Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Remnants won the toss and chose to bat today - not because it made sense in cricketing terms, but because at that stage we were out-numbered 7-12 by the more punctual (and more numerous) Tektronix outfit. It was thus particularly ironic that all four missing Remnants were present by the time the first ball was bowled. Initially the later (if not actually late) arrivals might have been annoyed to have missed out on a top order spot, but that was before the Tektronix opening bowlers revealed themselves to be just a bit too good for us. "White T." returned solid figures of 0/14, while "Qaiser" was unplayble (at least by us) as he took 2/8; between them they'd restricted Remnants to 22/2 off 6 decidedly miserly (8-ball) overs.
Of our top order only Mihir Chandraker (24 off 31 balls) seemed comfortable, being neither over-awed by the good bowling nor distracted by White's repeated threats to run him out for backing up, despite the fact that Mihir had never left his ground. Perhaps the best indication of the bind we were in was the fact that Julius Rix (with a Remnants career strike-rate of 124.56, sixth on the all-time list) was subdued to the point that he scored just 4 off 17 balls, finally getting frustrated into having a crack at a well-disguised slower ball.
Our confident reassurances that the change bowlers would be a bit easier to score off were now a bit more desperate, but so it turned out. Although, rather than the run-feast we were hoping for, it was more of an even battle: Dave Williams (12 off 14 balls) scored freely but then missed an in-swinger; and Andy Owen (13* off 15 balls at this stage) had largely been restricted to pushing singles. With new batsman Daniel Mortlock also struggling to score, we were now all but guaranteed an indefensibly small total: 71/4 off 104 balls is hardly slow-scoring by Boycottian Test standards, but with just 24 balls left to do something we were surely done.
That sense was only reinforced when Tektronix brought on an new bowler by the name of Few, who seemed worryingly athletic and, when asked by the 'keeper what he bowled, simply answered "fast". His first ball was reasonably quick, but it was a full toss outside leg-stump, and Andy just helped it on its way - after leaving the bowler's hand the ball next touched the ground only after slamming into the impressively high netting that's been erected on the north-west side of the ground. Still, everyone deserves a loosener and his second ball would surely be a bit bette- or not: down leg side again, and once more hit to (but at least not over) the boundary. The third delivery of the over wasn't, in the sense that the bowler broke the return crease with his back foot and was duly no balled; and, to add insult to injury, this was also hit to the boundary. Our total had increased by 15 in two balls; Few was not living up to his name; and, just like that, the pressure was off. The bowling for the rest of the innings wasn't particularly bad, but it was as if some giant switch had been thrown and Andy (39* off 27 balls) and Daniel (38* off 18 balls) went on a confidence-fuelled rampage of boundaries and, on the rare occasions they weren't available, cheeky second runs, including off fortunate inside edges and unnecessary overthrows. In the end an incredible 65 runs came from those last 3 overs (more than had come from the first 12!), all but undoing Tektronix's earlier good cricket, and giving us a scarcely believeable total of 136/4.
Not that we'd won just yet, as evidenced by the fact that Tektronix raced to 25/0 off their first 3 overs as they dealt with our good balls and put away the bad ones. But then Chris Martin (2/25) made the first breakthrough after which Richard Rex (1/14) bamboozled the batsmen with both his incredible flight and big turn off the pitch. Critically, we backed both Chris and Richard in the field: Mihir Chandraker denied his apparently aching body (which he seems to think is a mandatory Remnants requirement) to zoom around the long boundary and then send in bruise-inducing throws; Johns Young and Moore made a number of vital full-length dives to turn likely boundaries into harmless singles; and Dave Green and Richard himself doggedly got something behind fast-moving and erratically-bouncing balls time after time. (Not that it was all good, mind: about mid-way through the innings we developed a weird habit of fielding the ball and then only threatening to throw it, which resulted in several completely preventable extra runs; and then Julius, perhaps responding to not having been given a bowl, took a pot-shot at his captain with a wayward return that was about a pitch width off course but went within a cap-width of inflicting serious injury.)
Tektronix's chase was all but dead when they were just 50/4 at the half-way mark, after which Mihir (1/15) and Eli Ellwood (3/15) hammered the nails into the coffin. Mihir produced some insanely spun leggies, the best of which was perhaps the moment of the match: the ball whipped past a perfectly good forward defensive, taking the edge and slamming into 'keeper Andy Owen's gloves; but he wasn't sure the ball had hit the bat, so for good measure he stumped the now over-balanced batsman with a primal roar of triumph. The only questions now were i) whether we could finish while there was still least some light and ii) whether Tektronix could last out their 15 overs, their final pair openly admitting they were "playing for the draw". In the end it was a decisive "yes" to both, as they took 27 from the last 2 overs, ending the game with a huge six.
Earlier in the day, John Young had been asking melancholy questions about whether this was our "worst ever start to a season". Certainly it wasn't very good, with our three losses and a frustrating tie looming over our one win prior to today. But sadly one only has to go back to 2011 to find a worse start: we'd won just one of our first five matches that season too, but didn't even have a "frustrating tie" to mix in with the losses. And tonight's result means we're 1.5/2 in our last two matches, so maybe after a victory against Sharks our season will be properly up and running.