Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Remnants had a new opponent on this most magnificent evening in the form of Wilburton. It might sound like some sort engineering company but it was in fact that increasingly rare thing: a good old fashioned village team. The two clubs had been put in contact by Paul Jordan, whose son, erstwhile Remnant Tom, has been playing for Wilburton for the last few seasons. It was possible to imagine that their mid-week side might be made up of some middle-aged guys with large, er, inertia, and that we might have an easy victory on our hands. Such fantasies were quickly revealed to be just that when we arrived at the ground to find a bunch of fit-looking twenty-something guys who all looked suspiciously like they knew how to play cricket - and sadly against, rather than for, us.
Such suspicions were quickly confirmed when, having won the toss and chosen to bat, the Wilburton top order batsmen started playing effortlessly correct shots to perfectly decent balls and either running aggressive twos or waiting for the ball to cross the boundary. Given also that the pitch was true and the outfield fast it was easy to imagine the game turning into a one-sided farce - a notion that was rather confirmed when, after 3 (six-ball) overs, the scoreboard read 414/0. This unpromising situation was rectified largely by the removal of the errant "4", but also by our bowlers, who stuck to their lines, with nobody getting seriously taken apart. The two stars were Robin Eddington (0/20, repeatedly beating - or taking the edge of - the bat, and conceding just 2 runs from his first 11 balls) and Alec Armstrong (1/15, who induced numerous false strokes with his flight and turn). Alec, along with off-spinners Faruk Kara (1/31) and Ferdi Rex (1/15), would have had several more wickets but for some increasingly disastrous catching. It started off with some good efforts that just didn't stick, but steadily regressed to the point where absolute dollies were hitting the deck. Given that the batsmen were so good, it seemed that at least some of these were the sort of critical moments on which the game might hinge; on the other hand, the good catches that Julius Rix and Andy Bell did take were all the more commendable for being completed in such a droptastic context. Wilburton's eventual total of 144/4 wasn't as terrifying as had seemed likely, especially given how batting-friendly the conditions were.
Openers Andy Bell and Michael McCann made a good enough start, although it would have been even better if they'd grabbed a few more of the easy-looking singles and second runs on offer. The slightly conservative running was all the more anomalous given Michael's presence in the middle - he's repeatedly made rather outlandish claims like "there's always a run if you hit it", a policy he generally follows. Today, though, he seemed to be incapable of perceiving the geometry of a cricket field, sending Andy back despite our hollering for a run and then, perhaps inevitably, calling him through for an ambitious quick single which ended up with Andy being run out (for 15 off 16 balls). The latter, though, was the right thing to do: Andy would have made it if either he'd grounded his bat or Michael's call had been a bit earlier. And Andy himself didn't seem to feel too betrayed by the call - although that might have been for the more elemental reason that it meant he could remove what will now always be known in medical circles as "Ferdi's sweaty helmet". More importantly, this new "run on everything" policy was the dominant reason that Michael and new batsmen Julius Rix were able to keep us in touch with our target. Michael also seemed to be keeping in touch with the afterlife, as the end of every over brought increasingly dramatic recovery routines that seemed likely to be a precursor to some pitch-side vomiting. The smart money was on a bad hangover, and there were also suggestions that his coke dealer had substituted traces of rat poison; but in the end Michael claimed it was just a dodgy curry on Tuesday which meant he hadn't eaten since. Those of us on the sidelines were more than happy to help with Michael's rehydration regimen just as long as he kept hitting the ball and scampering cheeky runs.
The game maybe came to a watershed moment with our score at 73/1 after 11 overs: with 72 needed off 54 balls, even one bad over for us could have seen the target slip out of reach. Wilburton perhaps sensed this, and brought on by far the quickest bowler of the evening, one J. Loveday, who paced out his 30-yard run and sent the 'keeper back a good 15 yards from the stumps. It was possible to imagine a repeat of Jackson's Fry's demolition job for Hart-McLeod a few weeks ago, but that would have required that the ball actually be aimed somewhere near the stumps. Instead, we got a short ball attack that certainly had the batsmen on the back foot, but in a good way: they cut, deflected and slashed to great effect, taking 29 from his 3 overs.
It soon became clear that the only real threat to what looked like being a superb chase might be the light: the Sun had already been eclipsed by the houses that had insensitively been built on the west side of the ground and, while Michael and Julius had their eyes in, any new batsmen would presumably struggle to pick up the ball in the gloom. Such hypotheticals soon became actuals as a seriously tired Michael played a seriously tired looking shot, being dismissed for a superb 45 (off 46 balls), and then Julius was the victim of a superb diving catch, leaving him on an almost as superb 42 (off 49 balls). That left Ferdi Rex and Robin Eddington with the task of trying to finish our chase off before Loveday got his chance to bowl the last - and hence darkest - over of the match. This they did: with the help of a five-wide bonus non-ball they chanced their arms, Ferdi ending up on 11* (off 6 balls) and Robin getting to finish things off with a boundary off the one delivery he faced.
It was an especially satisfying victory, since it felt like we were kind of out-gunned, and hopefully there'll be some re-matches next year, not least so that we can get some Jordan vs. Jordan action with Paul bowling at Tom or vice versa.