"TRAINS HIT BY 'WRONG SORT OF HEAT'," screamed The Evening Standard, no doubt happy to let the casual reader infer that the entire transport network had gone into a literal meltdown, when the truth was that "six trains from Paddington to Henley or Bourne End were to terminate early, adding 30 minutes to hundreds of people's journeys." Armageddon it wasn't.
But the heat was what was on everyone's mind: the temperature was above 30 for the first time all year; Shoaib put on sunscreen for what he claimed was the first time in his life; and Daniel was politely asked by a few rather igonorant Remnants if he'd be going out without his jumper (of course not). The biggest clothing-related talking point, though, was the fact that Grant Kennedy had arrived in a proper white cricket shirt - cue disbelief all-round, not least from Grant himself, who grumbled that it was too hot to wear the "lucky" pink horror underneath, and that he'd probably get out for a duck. That would have to wait, though, as Daniel had decided that we'd field first, the logic being that, despite the heat, we might induce Fathers And Sons to mitigate their very strong batting line up, keeping a few of their more destructive players back in the shed in order to give others a go.
This, in short, did not happen, as FAS raced to a seemingly effortless 53/1 after 6 (six-ball) overs. The first of these was sent down by Ben Jose (no longer enigmatic, as described in the Remnants vs. Remnants match report, but now very much corporeal . . . although it's since been pointed out that Ben did actually play one game for Remnants last year), who's been working up some real speed for Granta I and II during the season. He did for us too, but his first over verged from the sublime (a speedy out-swinger that took the edge of the bat and was well caught low down by Daniel Mortlock at second slip) to the, er, less sublime (four big wides and a total of 16 runs off the over).
Things rather calmed down after that, but the bottom line was that the FAS second wicket pair - and particularly their number three, George Houghton - were a bit good for us today, and most of the bowling figures don't really bear reporting. Our most effective approach was to slow things down, and Shoaib Shahid (0/12) and Dave Williams (0/18) conceded "only" a run a ball - highly creditable in the circumstances, especially given that both repeatedly beat the well-set batsmen. The natural corollary was that most of the work was being done in the outfield - and close to the boundary rather than the bat - which was indeed the case, as Grant Kennedy, Olly Rex and Richard Rex all made some superb stops, the clear highlight being when Richard stopped a flat pull inches inside the boundary line, confidently (but not casually) putting up his right hand to halt the ball and then immediately send it on its way back to the bowler.
Of course we couldn't field everything, most obviously a pair of huge sixes hit by George, one of which went into Dave Norman's backyard and one of which comfortably cleared the netting on the other side of the ground. Although nobody realised it at the time, this was probably the critical moment of the match, as the fairly decent ball that had been lost was replaced by a decidedly inferior specimen that kept low and was much harder to hit. (FAS had to end their innings facing this sub-standard sphere; we had to deal with it for a full twenty overs.) This fact was exploited to the full by Daniel Mortlock (2/18), who had the surviving opener nicely stumped by 'keeper Andy Owen when the ball shot through at ankle height. That was the penultimate ball of the innings, which FAS then elected to finish by sending out a very good, but very young, 12-year-old cricketer to face the final ball. Daniel belied his Antipoedean heritage by sending down a half-speed delivery which the batsman smashed over mid-on . . . or at least would have if Grant hadn't been there to take the catch. (He offered up a guilt-free shrug and asked the legitimate question, "Well, what did you want me to do - drop it?")
All that was soon forgotten, though, as Grant went out to open and, to put it mildly, did not get the duck he feared he might. After an early wicket, Grant and Dave Williams (23 off 19 balls) shared an excellent partnership, taking us to 57/1 after 8 overs. Dave was then out (to one Faruk Kara, fresh from consecutive five-fors for Remnants and Romsey), which brought Dave Norman to the crease, meaning we had our two form batsmen together - prior to today Grant had scored 219 at an average of 43.80 this season, and Dave had done even better, having not lost his wicket even once while compiling 206 runs. Moreover, the last time Grant and Dave batted together they put on 153, and we obviously had hopes that they'd do something similar today.
But FAS were prepared to weather this particular storm, and had held back their three quickest bowlers just for this purpose. For a while we were in the ascendancy, and with the score 96/2 after 12 overs we were probably marginal favourites: 63 off 48 balls was well within Grant and Dave's capabilities. But the steady flow of boundarys became a constant trickle of singles, and the required run rate shot up, and soon they both had to gamble - resulting in Dave (31 off 26 balls) being stumped coming down the track and Grant (64 off 56 balls) being well caught on the boundary. Ben Jose (7* off 7 balls) and Olly Rex (3* off 4 balls) had too much to do, and we wound up 16 runs short of FAS's total.