Report by Daniel Mortlock:
What a shambles.
Both off- and on-field it's the only word to describe Remnants this evening. The nadir was when the organiser and nominal captain arrived late, displaced unwitting twelfth man Michael McCann, and promptly dropped a sitter off the bowling of Naveen Chouksey (0/15), who then had to watch the reprieved batsman smash his next delivery for six. With our subsititute-heavy fielding positions all wrong and Coton's Australian recruit Roussow leading them to 51/2 after just 6 (eight-ball) overs, we were staring at humiliation.
It was the sort of mess you expect from local government - and even then they'd swiftly call for an independent review. We don't get that, insteading having to make do with the electronic equivalent of a paper chase, which revealed that the critical error was made on more than four months ago, on April 3, when Daniel set up the season's Doodle poll without an entry for the match on August 5. Ever since John Young noticed this ommission it had been looming as an electronic iceberg for the season, but we'd managed to get out a full eleven for that game, so it seemed that the hazard had been avoided. Unfortunately, the automatically-generated team lists for this week's matches were, initially, incorrect and the correction e-mail didn't go to everyone it should have. So that meant we had twelve, not eleven, players who made their way out to Coton today and expected to play. Coton didn't want to play an "eleven to bat, eleven to bowl" game, which meant that someone - Michael, in the end - had made a wasted trip. The only thing to do was apologise and promise to triple-check next season's Doodle poll.
Back on the field, we at least started to make something of a comeback as Shoaib Shahid (1/28, with some genuine flighted leggies), Ben Jose (3/16 in his first Remnants game, including a wicket second ball) and Daniel (1/5) got a few wickets, albeit without much help from the fielders. Plenty of chances were generated, but the ball went to ground every time, as the fielders repeatedly lost track of lofted balls (assuming, that is, they were watching in the first place). We did get a comedy run out when the batsmen saw Eli Ellwood mis-field in the deep, only to realise too late that Daniel was standing next to him and was in position to fire in a wayward but sufficient fast throw to 'keeper Andy Owen. Maybe more memorably, we also had a comedy non-run out when one batsman hit the ball straight to Naveen, who made a great stop at shortish mid-off, and insisted on what was clearly a suicidal single: the non-striker initially refused to budge, so the whole team called for the ball to be thrown to the "keeper's end! keeper's end!" . . . but Naveen had his own ideas and, possibly inspired by watching YouTube videos of Jonty Rhodes running out Inzamam Ul Haq, refused to let go of the ball and instead ran towards the non-striker's wicket . . . only to realise too late that the batsman was going to beat him there. The simple act of flicking off the bails turned into a desperate throw, all while Andy waited in isolation 22 yards away. Andy was in the thick of the action himself, as he almost made a succession of superb leg-side stumpings and then saw two different batsmen stand their ground after they'd been bowled, presumably because they (erroneously) thought the ball had bounced back of Andy's pads.
The key moment, however, had nothing to do with us: the previously mentioned Antipodean smacked his eighth boundary and promptly walked off the field - it turns out that Coton were playing "retire at 50", Roussow having made it all the way to 53* off just 33 balls. Other than the already dismissed run out victim, none of the other Coton batsmen made it into double figures, and their innings rather trailed off, with just 11 runs coming from the last 4 overs. So, despite our out of kilter field settings and merry-go-round personnel, we'd somehow got ourself a sub-par target of just 109 to chase.
Our pursuit got a turbo-charged start as first Eli Ellwood (14 off 11 balls, before being unluckily bowled off a double-bouncer) and then Ferdi Rex (32 off just 18 balls) knocked off half the target by the mid-point of the 6th over. Ferdi's particular skill was to wait for the shorter balls, which were holding up, to come to him, using controlled power rather than just slogging. Daniel made this point to umpire Richard Rex, noting "It's great to see Ferdi batting like this" mere seconds before he got one of the best balls of the evening - back of a length and seaming in - and was bowled. Still, our ultra-speedy start meant that Daniel (26* off 32 balls) had a chance to try and recover some long-lost form without any real obligation to try and score off good balls, a rare privilege in this format. Aided by Olly (10 off 17 balls) and an increasingly regular supply of wides and (high) no balls, it meant that we ended up winning in luxurious comfort, with 5 wickets and 24 balls to spare. And Daniel found some measure of redemption by getting to sweep the ball to the boundary to finish the game.