Report by Olly Rex:
The day after a (mis)match against Fen Ditton that the more masochistic among you can read all about in in the match report, Remnants looked to get the season back on track with a win against the County Council. In some ways the omens were good. The sun was shining; there was no sign of the gale-force winds that had caused the teams to play without bails the day before; and we had a strong XI that contained a nice blend of youth and experience. At least theoretically we did: the reality was that at 6 o'clock 8 of us walked onto the pitch, and most of us were hopeful rather than confident that we had three more in the changing room. It turned out there were two, and so after they had emerged, and the opposition kindly lent us a fielder, we got started.
Olly Rex (4 overs, 0/9) and Joe White (4 overs, 0/10) took the new ball against a right hand-left hand opening pair, and started well. The left hander struggled to get to grips with Olly's angle, missing a succession of attempted cut shots, while Joe settled into a nice groove and repeatedly beat the edge of the right-hander's bat with his outswingers. The upshot of all this was that the County Council were 19/0 after 8 (six-ball) overs, and although we hadn't taken any wickets, we still felt that we were on top. The hope was that the batsmen would too, and that as a result they would try a few rash shots and lose some wickets in the process. Shoaib Shahid came on, but his first ball was a bit of a loosener wide outside off that had Geoff lifting his arms to call a wide. At the last second, though, the batsman pushed forward from his crease and attempted an expansive drive, managing only a thin bottom edge which dribbled through to 'keeper Andy Owen. The ever-alert Andy deflected the ball onto the stumps before the batsman could get back into his ground, and Remnants had a crucial wicket. There was some confusion for a moment as to the nature of the wicket: while Andy was claiming a stumping, some of the County Council players suggested that because the batsman had hit the ball the wicket ought to be recorded as a run out. A look at the rulebook after the game resolved the issue in Andy's favour. In such instances what matters is not whether a batsman has hit the ball but whether he/she is attempting a run, and so Andy was right to celebrate another perfectly legitimate dismissal.
While some of us pondered the intricacies of the stumping rule, others got on with the cricket, and did a pretty good job. Shoaib settled into a really nice line and length, particularly from his second over onwards, and caused all sorts of problems for the opposition's middle order. He took two more wickets, the highlight coming when he bowled the danger-man with a beauty just a couple of balls after an ominous one bounce four, and finished with 3/15 off 4 overs. In the meantime Alec Armstrong (4 overs, 0/20) kept the pressure on at the other end, and was unlucky to go wicketless himself as a succession of aerial shots somehow eluded the ring of fielders. Skipper Owen turned to Ferdi Rex and Mihir Chandraker next, and they picked up from where the others had left off. Mihir repeatedly turned the ball past the edge, while Ferdi kept the batsmen guessing with his clever changes of pace. They finished with 2/12 and 1/12 respectively and, most importantly, prevented the opposition from securing the sort of late innings flourish they so desperately needed. Good bowling and fielding had restricted the opposition to just 87/6, which seemed [Only seemed?!? - ed.] a sub-par score.
Regular opening pair Julius Rix and Andy Bell strode out to begin the chase, but this time their union was short-lived, as a forward defensive shot by Julius hit rather high on the bat and gifted a simple return catch to the opening bowler. Andy Bell fared better, and after he'd hit a couple of trademark boundaries we had recovered to a healthy 21/1 off 3 overs. A swift victory looked to be on the cards, but instead a combination of tight bowling, cautious batting and indecisive running saw our innings stagnate. The next 6 overs brought just 10 runs, and when number three John Young fell for 4 (off 26 balls) the opposition were starting to think they might have a chance. There was no need to panic, however, as with less than a run a ball needed and plenty of wickets in hand we were still undoubtedly on top.
For the next few overs Andy managed to keep the score ticking over, before being castled for 41 (off 42 balls) when our team's score only stood at 51. His wicket brought Mihir to the crease to join Ferdi, and the two youngsters batted with purpose and power from the outset, quickly putting the result beyond doubt. There was a brief scare when Ferdi appeared to smack a long hop straight to the fielder on the midwicket boundary, but the fielder could only watch as it sailed ten metres over his head, and ultimately Remnants completed a comfortable 7 wicket victory in the 17th over. Ferdi's 22* (off 16 balls, with 2 sixes) and Mihir's 17* (off just 7 balls) had secured an emphatic and timely win, and yesterday's debacle was (almost) forgotten.