Report by Dave Williams:
More blustery conditions this evening, if not as much as for the early season Fen Ditton nadir. St Barnabas batted - such is the power of pragmatism - simply because only a few of them had arrived by 6pm.
Captain Paul Jordan opened with exciting prospect Ben Jose bowling downwind from the Huntingdon Road end. Keeper Felix Serby was standing a full and respectful 20 yards downwind from the stumps - a wise decision, as the first three balls whistled past the St B. batter at chest height. Wind-assisted intimidation by cricket ball is clearly seductive and addictive, so it's understandable that Ben should want to pitch short. A fatherly word from Paul between overs ("Pitch it up!" with an explanation why) got exactly the right response - a much fuller length and two-in-a-row smashed wickets. With the batsmen clearly rattled, Ben's next was a maiden, and his last a wicket maiden: an impressive 3/5 off 4 (six-ball) overs.
Upwind, Shoaib Shahid's elegant and usually purposeful leggies were getting (to be blunt) tonked: 24 off his first 2 overs. And John Moore's high-wire bowling act - always a delicate balance between inducing red mist batting madness and getting heaved to the boundary - hardly fared much better: 0/34 from his 4 overs. Mihir Chandraker's second-over wicket seemed, though, to have got us through to the less fluent St B. batsmen, and the bipolar (in terms of run rate) start seemed to stabilize to quite a modest return at both ends.
My third-choice wrist spin and licorice allsorts - introducing my novelty round-arm Malinga-esque off-breaking flipper - went for 0/11 off 2 overs; Mihir finished with a miserly 1/13 off his 4; Paul's first over modelled line and length for a maiden, followed by one more for (such is life) 11. Shoaib finished off his 4 for an eventual 36, a significant comeback.
Remnants fielding was tidy, if unspectacular, today in a generally relaxed summer/casual medium-energy effort - Ben's electric performance aside. 115 from St Barnabas seemed, on a fine dry wicket and typical Fitz outfield, at least 20 runs too short. But you never know . . .
Tom Serby and I opened the batting in what may not be the most effective combination in terms of running between the wickets. Imagine two people who, instead of shoes, are wearing those very short colourful plastic kayaks filled with concrete. At least Tom (2 off 7 balls) and I (1 off 5 balls) didn't delay newcomer Dom Summers and Felix Serby very long. Dom's classical range of shots and well-coached technique were increasingly evident along the way to his 15 (off 24 balls). Felix's shot repertoire - intelligent cuts into the gaps; quick, precise footwork and placement - today also had power and confidence. It was a pleasure to see a fine young cricketer beginning to find his full powers - and this is only a start.
On which subject, Mihir's arrival at the crease was one of those decisive interventions that reminds me of Brutus's speech in Julius Caesar (Act 4, scene 3, 218-219): "There is a tide in the affairs of men / Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." Mihir was his own high tide and flood as his personal tsunami overwhelmed the St Barnabas attack. The scorebook records his innings as starting with the sequence . 4 4 . 2 1 2 4 4 4 1 1 1 6 6 6, including a brutal flat six that was still going upwards before it ricocheted off and over the pavilion roof. A curio question for collectors of cricketing bizarreness: what were Mihir's next shots after three sixes in a row? Answer: block, block, single. Reason? Felix was nearing his half-century, and Mihir - generously, with admirable self-control and no little maths ability - wanted to him to get it. Which, next over, he duly did, thus becoming [we think - ed.] the youngest Remnant ever to hit a fifty. Congratulations to him, and wishing him many more. Mihir (39* off 19 balls) and Felix (52* off 42 balls) thus compiled an unbeaten 62-run partnership (off just 32 balls) that saw us romp home with almost 4 overs to spare.