Report by Daniel Mortlock:
After two matches in the most horrid conditions imaginable (or playable, at least), we were greeted today by the perfect weather for evening cricket. It was warm without being hot; there was no wind to speak of; and the sky was dotted with fluffy clouds straight from the credits sequence of The Simpsons. IPH was both more punctual and more numerous - they had a genuine twelfth man, whereas we numbered just ten - and so they generously (or, possibly, for cricketing reasons) put us into bat.
We were a bit thin on big scorers, so it was just as well that this was a Remnants home game with no retirements - although even that would have been rendered moot if the opposition got a few key wickets. Fortunately for us, they did not. Richard Rex and Dave Williams got us off to a solid start, before accelerating nicely, Dave playing some beautifully placed cuts and Richard smacking the ball way over cow corner for his first ever Remnants six. The bowler's (presumably accidental) response was a wild full toss that hit Richard in the chest; he collapsed in a spectacular heap, and there was that brief moment of "Oh no, maybe he's really hurt" before he dusted himself off and continued on to a well-made 24 (off 29 balls).
Andy Owen then joined Dave and, after a few scratchy shots by Andy, they both started to score with almost complete freedom, eventually compiling a 117-run partnership. The only real danger seemed to be a run out as they repeatedly refused second runs with the ball still 50 metres from the bat, only to run bonkers quick singles next ball. Dave Norman (at this stage just an on-looker) suggested that Dave must be close to his half-century and an add-up revealed him to be on 49 - somewhat spooky stuff that ordinarily would guarantee a wicket next ball, but Dave just kept going, finishing on a superb 77* (off 56 balls). Andy Owen also made it to within a shot of a half-century, but got bogged down in the last over, being well caught for 47 (off 37 balls). More good fielding almost saw John Moore's seemingly cursed batting season continue with a first ball run out, be he made his ground to finish on 1* (off 1 ball).
Good fielding was a bit of a theme, and IPH set a high standard throughout the innings. While at times they looked a little deflated, and no doubt wished that Dave had been forced to retire as would normally have been the case in their matches, they made a number of superb stops that probably cut 20-odd off our total. Still, that was more than made up for by an impressive 15 wides, and we felt pretty happy with 169/2, easily our highest total so far this year.
That sense was rather dented when IPH opened with two proper batsman, one with a good eye and long limbs, and the other with rock-solid technique and excellent placement. Naveen Chouksey (0/12) was economical but rotated off after only two overs, an option that was probably revealed to be a mistake as the batsmen combined big-hitting and good running to race to 115/0 off 8 (eight-ball) overs. With our bowling impotent and our fielding lacklustre (also known as "crap") it was hard not to feel that the match was already done. Suddenly we were the ones desperate for retirements, and all our giddy plans of sharing the bowling around and crowding the batsmen had descended into rather shapeless field placings and a desperate search for someone to stem the tide.
First choice here was our super-sub, Dave Norman (1/21), now released from BBQ duties. He conceded just 4 runs from his first over, had the more solid of the openers out LBW, and generated our first catching chance of the night when Richard Rex made a great attempt to catch a skier in the gloom - but then had the presence of mind to gather the ball and hurl it in to Dave who completed the run out of the rather surprised batsman. Andy Owen (0/30) then did pretty well too - remember 10 runs per over was actually comfortably below the asking rate - although a few streaky shots meant that he and Dave had only delayed the inevitable. At the start of the final over IPH needed just 1 to tie and 2 to win, at which point we pick up the commentary:
So IPH really have this in the bag, especially with Rogers, now on 90, on strike. Not clear who's going to bowl for Remnants, but in the end captain Mortlock decides to administer the last rites himself, perhaps hoping to atone for his earlier 2-over spell that had gone for 27.
Almost a miracle - if only that last ball had snuck past the bat, if only it had been hit a little straighter, etc. - but really a comfortable chase by IPH. Fascinating also that the match was dominated by two big innings on each side (that between them yielded 270-odd runs), all of which would have been curtailed if we'd been playing retirements. Given that the IPH middle order (i.e., numbers 3 to 8) managed just 14 runs between them, this probably would have been enough to swing the game our way; but instead it was up to us to find a way through the IPH opening pair (who put on 147), which we just couldn't do. Probably the closest we went was when wicket-keeper Ev Fox made a sharp leg-side take off Naveen and whipped the bails off; the batsman certainly lifted his foot at some point, but it would have needed the sharpest of eyes - or a freeze-frame replay ("Could you rock-and-roll that for me?") - to have given it, if it was out at all. Otherwise it's hard to even remember the ball beating the bat - although it's not so hard to remember the ball beating a fielder. We let through a half a dozen boundaries that probably should have been stopped; at the time it felt unimportant, so freely were the batsmen scoring, but in the end even four extra runs might have been enough.