For a country that seems to be in love with the stuff, it's been very strange to see recent TV advertisements for beer - not a particular beer, but just beer. The obvious implication is that Brits are drinking less beer than in the past, and there is maybe some evidence to back that up from, bizarrely, the Remnants fixture list. We used to play against a veritable retinue of pub sides (The Blue Ball; The Bun Shop; The Cambridge Arms; The Champion Of The Thames; The Clarendon Arms; The Cricketers Arms; The Free Press; The Globe; The Old Spring; The Six Bells; The Tram Depot; The White Swan), whereas now there's just one: The St Radegund, who just happened to be our opposition tonight.
The match began with an abortive non-toss, as Olly Rex was all set to get things underway, until he deferred to late-arriving captain Daniel Mortlock, who was just in time to call incorrectly, with the result that we were asked to field. Olly (1/17) can't have been unhappy for too long as he got to open the bowling, and his first ball was chipped to brother Ferdi at mid-on, who took a superb diving catch (*** in Sal's scorebook). Joe White (2/12) did even better at the other end, bowling with a fire we haven't seen since his days playing for Granta I. He repeatedly beat the bat with pace, lift and seam movement, the ball slamming into 'keeper Andy Owen's gloves at shoulder height. We responded by setting a "McCullum field", packing the slips cordon, and even had two slips, a gully and a point in place when Joe came back on to bowl the penultimate over of the innings. There were plenty of edges, but most didn't quite carry - until a perfect leg cutter to the opposition's best batsman moved precisely half a bat width, flicking the bat and flying smoothly to first slip Daniel . . . who then spent the next few seconds juggling and fumbling the ball before it eventually bounced off his tummy and onto his legs, from where he retrieved it to claim his second ever "proper" slips catch (the first also having been off Joe, back in 2011).
With The Rad struggling at 12/2 after 3 (six-ball) overs, it was all too easy too imagine a rout, but their batsmen defended resolutely, as Dave Williams (0/10), John Moore (0/11) and Daniel (0/17) all proved economical but unpenetrating. Our only other wicket came from Ferdi Rex (1/16), who completely bamboozled The Rad's top scorer, after which the score was a rather unimposing 56/4 after 16 overs. It seemed we were going to be faced with a kind of non-target, but some effective late order hitting added a veneer of respectability, not that anyone on the ground thought a total of 86/4 was enough.
Our pursuit started pretty smoothly, Andy Bell (10 off 14 balls) and Michael McCann (31* off 31 balls) benefitting from a steady supply of both loose deliveries and misfields. Possibly the most egregious example of the latter was when the point fielder somehow contrived to let a gentle dab-cut roll past/through him, allowing the softest of singles, after which Andy hit a spiralling, spinning, swirling nightmare of an outside edge in the direction of the same fielder . . . who somehow took the cleanest of grabs looking back over his left shoulder while the ball came down over his right.
This ushered in one of the most enjoyable Remnants partnerships of the season, as Michael was joined by reluctant number three Dave Green ("Dave - could you pad up and bat at three or four?" "That's all right, I don't fancy a bat." "Why don't you want to bat?" "No, it's fine, give others a bat." "Dave. You're batting at number three. That's an order."). Dave's approache was as simple as it was unorthodox: he kept stepping away to leg and hitting every ball between point and second slip; with the help of Michael's enthusiasm and leg speed this led to three threes and two twos, and gave our various photographers the delicious challenge of trying to snap the two of them running in the same direction. For some reason the opposition kept persisting with conventional field settings - one suspects Dave would be the first to acknowledge he is not in need of a long-on - rather than packing the cordon as we did when faced with a similarly uni-modal batsmen a few years back. Our joyous cheering increaed with every late-cut until, perhaps, inevitably, Dave was bowled backing away once too often.
After that the game rather petered out, Robin Eddington (18* off 18 balls) playing some elegant shots to get us within touching distance of a victory which was completed by a leg-side wide that went all the way to the boundary.
The match's anticlimax was matched off the field as well, as Dave Norman didn't have any draught beer in the clubhouse - that's arriving tomorrow, apparently - so we all headed off to the newly remodelled St Radegund (on King Street), where members of both teams talked and drank.