Report by Dave Williams:
Remnants lite [We were two players short due to a couple of no-shows; this was particularly frustrating as there were four or five others available to play if needed. - ed.] took the field under gunmetal skies. (Cricketing curios #267: Dave Green, Julius Rix, Andy Owen, Catherine Owen also turned up, but as non-participating observers.) In the dark conditions the Tektronics captain touted their shiny white ball; his counterpart Paul Jordan championed the sole remaining Remnants pink one because of the white wall camouflage at the Huntingdon Road end.
Promising Remnants first-season newcomer Adam Long got us down to business, bowling some very whippy right-arm seam up with a Mike Proctor-esque stutter in his pre-delivery stride. The pink cherry found edges for 10 off the first over, but Adam' s remaining three went for an impressively tight, if wicketless, 9. At the other end Eli Ellwood needed a couple of overs to find his length before settling down for his four straight through for 25, including a bowled in his third. The Tektronics number three made fairly heavy weather of my dog's breakfast leggies and leg/off cutters for my first change two-over spell, eventually losing his cricketing life to a fine catch from Richard Rex at mid-off. Richard may have called on his presumably extensive family experience of command/control communication to bark John Young out of the way with an imperious "MINE!!!!" As the fine mist/rain mizzled down, Alec Armstrong at the other end was struggling to grip the slippery ball as the batters started to find their range. Alec's second (over 11) went for 14 (finally 0/33 from 4 overs); Paul's second got the long handle treatment for 23 (finally 1/43 from 4 overs). Our fielding stayed in pretty good shape, though, with particularly Eli at long-on covering a lot of ground at speed and getting good throws in quickly. Big gun batter "J.P." at number five raced to a 12-ball 28 before getting bowled by one I was trying to put, at yorker length, a foot outside off stump (finally 2/32 from 4 overs). At the 10-over mark Tektronics had been on 51; the final ten more than doubled it. 162 to beat looked like a big ask.
Age Concern careworkers were reportedly looking into Paul's decision to make me open as well as bowl the final over. Whether it was the pink ball being easy to see, joie de vivre, monkey gland injections (ahem, not really) or wayward bowling, they didn't need to worry: I - or at least my batting - sprang out of the traps like a whippet on speed. A sequence of four consecutive fours was satisfying, also a rare straight-bat front-foot-driven maximum over the boundary at cover. At over 8 in the now dry conditions, we had 76 on the board. I think I had my half-century, God was in his heaven, all was right with the world. But the Tektronics change bowlers were now bowling with more control, and runs were harder to get. I hit one to the fielder sweeping right out on the longish Eachard Road boundary. I was thinking of a missed two earlier; I was thinking of match reports that say I'm too cautious about running one for the throw. Whatever the reason, the fielder winged it in and, with one stump to aim at from 50 yards, hit. My 58 off 39 was a very good start - was it good enough?
After Mihir Chandraker's commanding effort last week we should be OK . . . Mihir has a lovely wristy snap to his legside shots, playing late and keeping the ball down, but he couldn't find his timing to the ultra-slow Tektronics lobs and occasional double tracker now coming in. Opener Adam Long's elegant and cultivated mojo - straight bat, still head, good balance - was working, but boundaries seemed hard to find. Still, with 4 overs to go, the ask was a very achievable 28. In over 17, though, Mihir carved out to the same Eachard Road-side fielder as I did, and came back for the two with exactly the same results (for his 24 off 24 balls) - opposition cheering and self-congratulations showed how much they wanted his wicket and enjoyed the repetitions of history. The penultimate over was the crux of the matter: 15 needed off two. At least Adam was in and seeing the increasingly shredded (see photo below) pink ball in the gloom - or not. Out bowled, first ball of the over, for a fine 53 (off 48 balls). Richard Rex came and went for 0 off his 2. Eli on strike was looking a bit stiff for the final three balls of over 19: . . 1.
So . . . last over, 14 to win. First up: no ball over waist height! Then a couple of legside heaves from Eli for two each, then a single . . . John Moore tickled another, albeit doing his Neo in The Matrix, being in a different time phase from everyone else rushing around. Another single from Eli (eventually 7* off 8 balls), leaving John (3* off 2 balls) to get a mere 5 off the last ball. The final 2 was the bathetic mixture of heroic struggle and foolishness that only cricket can manage: valiant and effortful but pointless scampering between wickets, fielding errors, a lot of excited shouting. But it wasn't quite enough. Really good try, lads!