On this most glorious English summer afternoon the Remnants eleven assembled itself in the most English of ways, a series of polite "I'm can play, but don't mind if somebody else wants to" e-mails bouncing around Cambridge's computers almost until match time. The end result was, somewhat predictably, that we started the match with ten men . . .
. . . but it didn't really matter, as Daniel Mortlock (0/14) and Naveen Chouksey (1/17) were sufficiently tight early on that The Philanderers were just 8/0 after 4 (six-ball) overs. The "0" in the wickets column was a little frustrating, as both bowlers had beaten the bat several times and a couple of decidedly catchable chances had gone to ground . . . and it turns out that was to be the main story of the innings, as The Philanderers batsmen led seemingly charmed lives. The eventual total of about eight dropped catches was, of course, our own doing, but there was nothing we could do to stop the endless run of aerial mis-hits that fell just short of - or between - fielders. Probably half of the scoring shots (and some of the dots) came by this method, and by the end of the innings there was nothing to do but grumble about the unfairness of it all.
Before then, though, we had to get on with the business of keeping the opposition to a sensible total, which we almost did. Faruk Kara (1/20, most of which came from inside edges) was the clear pick of the bowlers, although Robin Eddington (0/20) was also unlucky to go wicketless. Robin did manage our one catch, holding onto a bullet at short cover that would have decapitated a slightly taller man with slightly slower reactions, and we also managed a couple of cool-headed run outs, as Michael McCann and then John Richer produced calm and accurate throws when tiring batsmen found themselves stranded mid-wicket. John also managed the stop of the day off the most vicious of cut shots when he poked his foot out at the ball (or, possibly, failed to remove his foot from its path) and neatly deflected it up to his hands. Brilliant as it was, it was also a little annoying as it followed one of Naveen's rather ambitious attempts at foot-fielding - it's rather embarrasing to give a player a justified bollocking for an action that induces praise 20 seconds later.
After 12 overs The Philanderers were just 53/2, and looking down the barrel of a miserably low total, but our late-innings bowling misfired a little to the point that 88 runs were scored from the last 48 deliveries. Given that we'd largely bowled well - and that their batsmen had been so fortunate - it was rather galling to be faced with a target of 142 for victory. It was clearly advantage Philanderers at the half-way point.
Our chase began rather slowly, with both John Richer (1* off 13 balls at one stage) and Julius Rix (15 off 16 balls) looking rather uncertain, and John in particular batting like a man playing his second innings for the season (which was strange, as it was actually his third). The bowling appeared solid, if reasonably unthreatening, although the same couldn't be said the wicket-keeping, which was both erratic, as evidenced by an eventual total of 16 byes, and aggressive, the "highlight" being a wildly passionate caught behind appeal against John that, despite not being supported by any of his teammates, was followed up with such sustained carping that the umpire had to intervene.
After 8 fairly even overs we were 39/1 - fewer than we'd have liked, but more than The Philanderers had at the same stage of their innings. At which point several important things happened all at once: John found his form, at one point hitting 8 boundaries in 15 balls; Robin Eddington came in and didn't even have to look for his form; and The Philanderers' fielding fell apart, a succession of fumbles, misses and overthrows adding to the still mounting bye count. The apparently challenging task of scoring 103 runs from 72 balls became a stroll, as the next few overs went for 13, 12, 16, 13, 7, 14, 13 and 10. It was joyous to watch our batsmen scoring with such complete freedom, and the suddenness of the transition from uncertaion hope of victory to absolute certainty of a big win was contagiously euphoric. Even when John was dismissed (for a superb 52 off 47 balls), Michael McCann (9* off 8 balls) immediately picked up where he left off; and Robin (40* off 24 balls) had gone into overdrive, finishing his innings with the almost dot-free sequence 3 1 + 2 4 1 3 2 2 4 4 1 4LB 1 (i.e., 28 personal runs and 33 team runs off 13 legitimate deliveries). We began the 16th over needing 5 more to win, which we got in the slightly anti-climatctic form of 5 wides, meaning that we'd cantered home with a full 4 overs to spare.
For only the second time all year we'd managed two victories in a week, and while yesterday's one-sided match against a fairly clearly out-gunned Redgate Software was far from unpleasant, there was something particularly tasty about our fabulous chase this evening - and not just the jugs of beer that John bought afterwards.