Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Playing at Gonville & Caius is always a somewhat melancholy experience for Remnants veterans - it was the de facto home of the much-lamented Computer Laboratory, still comfortably the opposition we've played most matches against. What remains is the challenge of playing cricket on a Test-scale field, with enormous square boundaries - the most distant wicket was in use today, so it was about 90 yards from pavilion to pitch. It thus took the two captains a day or two to walk out for the toss, with a base-camp set up at square-leg and food dumps at regular intervals. Once there the ARM captain called correctly and chose to bat; but Remnants captain Daniel Mortlock, weakend by the long journey, arrived back at the pavilion and started deliriously telling the team that we were batting. That misconception was quickly sorted out and, after rehydrating with a golden ale kindly provided by Andy, we head out to field.
The initial signs were that pace (or at least not spin) was the way to go: Daniel (0/15) began the match with that rarest of beasts, an eight-ball maiden. [Actually, a subsequent investigation revealed that they're not so rare: 120 have been bowled in the club's 36-season history. Daniel, now with 11, moved clear of Tony Malik, with 10, to be just one behind the all-time leader, Joe White, who has 12 - ed.] But the next 4 (eight-ball) overs from Daniel and Naveen Chouskey (0/35) went for 45 runs, with anything loose flying over the dry turf much too fast for our fielders. One of these shots managed to bounce through the annoying and hard to climb cast-iron railings at the north end of the ground; there would have been a significant delay to proceedings but for the fact that a foreign visitor was watching the game from near where the ball went. As she returned the ball to us she announced in faltering English that "Cricket is most interesting of all sport to me - even though I not understand it", which perhaps should be adopted as the Remnants club motto.
Given that the "fast" bowlers were getting hit, the obvious option was to slow things down - although it was only at this point that Andy Owen offered up the key advice, asserting "You know these guys - they hate slow bowling!" It may have been the cricketing equivalent of telling a farmer whose horse is galloping off into the distance that escape is much more difficult if the stable door is bolted, but it worked: Faruk Kara (1/18), John Moore (2/27) and Andy himself (1/12, in his 250th Remnants game) all making breakthroughs by taking the pace off the ball. Importantly, the wickets all came with good fielding support: Matt Samson completed an effortlessly elegant stumping off Faruk; Paul Jordan took a similarly effortless catch off John (once the other fielders had shocked him out of his mid-match reverie - no doubt dreaming of Arsenal winning another Premiership); and Daniel vindicated his decision to largely abdicate his captaincy responsibilities by taking two well-judged (oh, okay, one well-judged and one badly-judged but lucky) catches in his preferred cow-corner spot. The end result was that the scoring rate slowed as the innings drew to a close, Paul Jordan (1/12, in his 350th Remnants game) wrapping things up nicely . . . although it was hard not to think we wouldn't have been able to control things quite so well if not for the fact that three of the ARM top four had been forced to retire upon reaching 25.
In ordinary circumstances we had more than the requisite firepower to chase down ARM's total of 129, but of course we were also likely to be affected by the retirement rule at some point. That point was not the start of our innings, however, as our top order of Grant Kennedy (18 off 17 balls), Julius Rix (4 off 4 balls) and Eli Ellwood (19 off 25 balls) all failed to make it to "gold watch time". Still, we were scoring pretty well, and at 67/3 off 8 overs we were well up with the pace, needing 63 runs off the final 56 balls. There was then a rather unsatisfactory lull as new batsmen Matt Samson and Josh Nall struggled to score initially, being just 4* and 1* off their first 6 balls. We now needed 55 off 40, which was starting to get a bit worrying . . . but Josh (8 off 13 balls) accelerated before he was bowled, after which master finisher Andy Owen joined Matt for what was possibly the key partnership of the game. They, finally, started scoring the boundaries we needed, and had motored us to 111/4 at the end of the 13th over. The required rate (19 off 16 balls) was finally low enough that we could think of doing things in ones and twos, and with two set batsmen that really should have been a doddle . . .
. . . but for the fact that both were on 24* at the start of the over, and had retired three balls into it, each finishing on 26* off 22 balls. That at least meant a certain symmetry to the game, as our opening bowling attack of Daniel and Naveen now had to finish the job they'd started a few hours earlier. Fortunately for us, the penultimate over was rather loose - it was the most expensive of the match - and yielded all but 2 of the runs we needed. And yes, it really was fortunate: the bowler in question had already completed an over for an injured teammate and then delivered two full overs of his own, so he should have been prevented from bowling again; but nobody noticed, and so in some sense the result of the match might have been decided by an adminstrative oversight.
Except that cricket at our level is so unpredictable that a match is never really decided until the players are walking from the field - witness the last over madness of our early season encounter with IPH - and ARM went closer than they'd have dare hoped to doing the same here:
All in all, a good game of cricket, with more ebbs and flows than plenty of full-length matches. Also one-all between Remnants and ARM this year, although tonight's tough win doesn't quite count as revenge for being bowled out for 79.