Report by Daniel Mortlock:
A rare second visit to Churchill for the year beckoned this evening, as Redgate Software hosted us at their de facto home ground. That of course meant playing by "tech company rules", the clear explanation of which would actually make quite a good exercise in technical writing: a batsman, upon reaching 25, will retire at the end of the over (assuming they haven't since been dismissed); retired batsmen can bat again at the end of the innings, coming back in the same order that they retired; wides and no balls result in a two run penalty, but no extra delivery, except in the final over of the innings. Sally, who'd arrived in time score from the start of the game, had all this explained to her, and so we seemed set up for an immaculate recording of the score . . . until she decided she was too far away from the action and so moved in several installments to a nice bench just next to the sightscreen.
By this stage we'd already lost our first wicket, as Redgate's opening bowler, by the name of Hodgson, had slid one of his devilish in-swingers past the bat of Dave Williams (0 off 4 balls), who cut a rather desultory figure as he made the long march back to the pavilion. Unfortunately, his evening got even worse as he then knocked over a stray glass that had been put on the now vacated scorers' table, and so then had to spend the next five minutes scurrying about in search of a broom and performing cleaning duties.
After such a dismal start things could only get better - but we had no right to expect the startlingly dramatic change in fortunes we got. Our second wicket pair of Michael McCann and James McNamara (playing his first Remnants game) combined some fantastic back-foot shots with some lightning fast running to quickly have us motoring along at almost 10 runs per (six-ball) over. They could have been eyeing up truly titanic personal scores, but for the looming iceberg of retirement that lay in their paths. They were clapped back to the pavilion in quick succession, James having made 33* and Michael 30*, both from 20 balls. Next in was Olly Rex, promoted to number four as the nominal batsman in that position, John Young, had, in an administrative meltdown, been sent out as a substitute fielder for the opposition. At first it seemed Olly's stay was to be a brief one - he skied a drive that would have been a simple catch for either the bowler or the mid-on fielder . . . but turned into a rather more difficult chance for both of them - the mantra that "two hands is better than one" does not, it seems, extend to four. From there Olly scored even more quickly than those who'd come before him, smashing some spectacular pulls on his way to 30* off 17 balls before he too had to take a decidedly involuntary redundancy.
With our total now 113/1 after 12 overs there was even talk of breaking the record for our highest 20-overs score (although, really, that was mainly because most people didn't realise that the record in question is an incredible 220/5). Such points were quickly rendered moot for the rather more prosaic reason that we had a rather marked late innings lull, the boundaries being replaced by dot balls as John Young (6 off 17 balls), Richard Rex (11 off 13 balls, before being run out) and Daniel Mortlock (also 11 off 13 balls, also before being run out) all struggled to time the ball. Our start had been so good that we were still in the ascendancy, but Michael McCann, taking to his temporary substitute fielder role with perhaps more enthusiam than was strictly necessary, was now offering up calls of "No boundaries for a while now, boys!" that were, sadly, factually correct. This was at least rectified in the final over when Eli Ellwood came in and smashed 14* off 5 balls, taking us to a surely winning 171/4, comfortably our highest score of the year so far.
With so many runs in the bank we could have opted to take a fairly relaxed attitude in the field; but, coming off the back of three rather frustrating losses, no quarter was given. Joe White (1/12) and Daniel Mortlock (0/9) thus bowled out their full allocations, leaving Redgate on a rather uninspiring (if depressingly familiar to us) score of 24/1 after 8 overs. The general sense on the field was that we'd killed off the match . . .
. . . although our opposition seemed to see things differently, at least if the dismissed opener's comments were anything to go by. Having played and missed repeatedly (as well as surviving a thin edge only because we didn't have a first slip fielder - Daniel being in that position instead), he informed Joe that he "was a bit lucky" to have bowled him off an inside edge. Then, back in the pavilion, he was was overheard telling his teammates that "the bowling's not that good", an assessment which makes his decision to score just 4 off 26 balls (including what surely has to be a record run of 13 consecutive dots) all the more intriguing.
Still, that sort of "not defeated 'til the last ball" attitude is clearly commendable; and, despite the fact they now needed 12.33 an over, the undismissed Redgate batsmen kept fighting hard, two of them staying in long enough to join James, Michael and Olly in the retirement home. Our approach in the field matched this rather intense approach and it was fabulous to see everyone attacking the ball and throwing it in hard - there was a constant sense that a run out was just around the corner. Dave Williams and Daniel combined some sharp saves with fast and accurate throws from the heavy traffic spot of mid-wicket; Michael McCann was similarly energetic at square leg but couldn't quite recover the accuracy that got him a run out when he was fielding for the oppo; and, on the rare occasions that the ball pierced the inner ring, Reges Richard and Olly repeatedly chased it to save precious runs even though the match was already won.
This enthusiasm also extended to catches, although we weren't quite as successful there, as a number of lofted mis-hits fell just out of reach - and those that did go to hand induced the candidate comedy moments of the evening. The main contender was when 'keeper Dave Corry (our second debut player for the evening) and John Young both decided to go for a top edge - John called it, but rather late and a bit too softly, with the result that for the second time in the evening we had four hands reaching up for the ball. The critical difference this time was that John was able to use his considerable height advantage to snaffle the ball before it got within Dave's reach - which might seem trivial, but was too much of a challenge for Peter Shilton when faced with an overweight cocaine-fuelled dwarf back in 1986. (Note that there is no suggestion that Dave is overweight, cocaine-fuelled, or a dwarf, nor that John has the second most famous bubble perm in history.) This madness meant that Eli Ellwood's enthusiastic but ultimately doomed attempt to impress his fiance by running in from the boundary to take a goalkeeper style catch over his head barely rated a mention - and indeed wouldn't have got one if this report was subject to stricter editorial control. Besides, Eli more than made up for his spectacular drop with some spectacular bowling, taking 2/24 and, most importantly, bowling the opposition's most threatening batsman with a lovely off-cutter. James McNamara (1/26) also opened his Remnants wickets account and Paul Jordan (2/14) managed a late brace of wickets when he cleverly brought himself on to bowl at a couple of tail-enders who were fooled by what is traditionally known as "a straight ball".
The last few overs dragged a little - everything seemed to be moving at about half speed, although it was nice to see one of the top-order retirees come back in for a second time. Still, it was hard to feel anything other than happy to be completing a comforable victory. Add in access to the college bar and it was pretty close to the perfect Remnants evening.