Remnants vs. Institute of Public Health

18:00, Monday, August 1, 2016
Queens' College

Institute of Public Health (99/6 in 12 8-ball overs)
lost to
Remnants (100/2 in 10.4 8-ball overs)
by 8 wickets.

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

The day had been absolutely perfect for cricket, but the BBC forecast had big fat raindrops from 7pm onwards; and, by the time we congregated at Queens' College's playing fields, the first few drops of water could be felt in the air. IPH captain Chris Rogers (no, not that one) made the suggestion that we pre-emptively settle on a shortened format, the impeccable logic being that the worst case scenario would be that we finish early in good conditions and simply cash in the extra time at the pub. After some haggling on the number of overs and numbers of balls per over, we eventually, if arbitrarily, settled on 12 eight-ball overs per innings. This was such a big step down from the 120-ball format we'd happily been playing for the last two months that it was a bit hard to tell who was ahead for much of the match . . .

. . . except at the start of the game, during which IPH's quality top three brutalised their way to 51/1 with one ball remaining in the 5th over, being bowled by Naveen Chouksey (1/10). Naveen had been defying his explicit instructions to keep everything outside off stump, and his eighth delivery was, like the previous seven, some way outside leg; and the aforementioned Rogers (who'd scored at will against our bowling not once but twice last year) dismissively pulled the ball away . . . only for it to slam straight into the now bruised hands of Daniel Mortlock at square-leg, with no other fielder within 30 metres. Combined with an earlier catch by Julius Rix off the bowling of Oli Melvill (1/16) and the enforced retirement of the other opener upon reaching 25, the match had suddenly turned on its head - Remnants became the hunters and the IPH batsmen the hunted.

We brought the field into a constricting ring and set about absolute containment, something which Andrew Granville (1/19) and Josh Nall (0/8) both managed superbly. (Although Andrew, a distinguished professor of mathematics at UCL, preumably would have been even more economical if he'd been granted his requested 7-3 field, an intriguing proposal which was rejected by his captain primarily on the grounds that, as per the laws of the game, we had just the nine outfielders.) By and large it was a case of bowling McGrath-style (if considerably slower) and then pouncing on the ball to prevent any quick singles. John Young, Julis and James Crozier were particular stars here, although James did end up inducing the game's only six when he (quite correctly) hurled the ball in hard to the bowler to attempt a run out, only for both the bowler and the fielder backing up to completely miss the ball, which rapidly made it all the way to the opposite boundary. Other than this, the only breaches of our containment policy were when Josh Nall took a good diving catch and Andy Owen completed a sharp stumping, the main result of which was to improve Daniel's bowling figures to a rather flattering 3/16. Coming into the final over, IPH had scored just 37 from their last 6 (eight-ball) overs, and even a mild 11-run final over blow-out wasn't enough for them to get into triple figures, as they finished on 99/6.

By this stage the drizzle had settled in, which meant two things: it was going to be harder for IPH to hold the ball (both bowling and fielding); and we weren't going to get much value for any shots along the ground. Both effects were important, but in the end it was probably the fact that we were able to nick sharp singles and dubious second runs that was the critical factor in our chase. Martin Law (11 off 18 balls) and Julius Rix (10 off 10 balls) started well enough, although at 48/2 after 6 overs were were slightly behind the required rate. That all changed when James Crozier hit 2 2 4 4 4 from his first 5 balls to be two big hits away from breaking Ferdi Rex's absurd record of retiring after facing 8 balls. James didn't manage that but, with Naveen Chouksey also scoring off the first 5 deliveries he faced, we'd very quickly broken the back of the chase. And James was clapped back to the pavilion soon enough, having scored 25* off 17 balls, after which Robin Eddington took up where he'd left off.

As implied above, the running was very good, primarily in the sense of being hyper-opportunistic, although the inter-batsmen communication wasn't always so crash-hot. The clear highlight of the whole game was when Robin edged the ball past the 'keeper and ran a comfortable single before calling Naveen through for a somewhat risky second run. Naveen was game, but then Robin got cold feet - or was it the other way around? - and the two of them entered into a bizarre mid-pitch dance that resembled a fencing match more than anything usually associated with cricket. Meanwhile, the ball had zoomed past the 'keeper and into the hands of the mid-wicket fieldsman, who could have eaisily run out either batsman (or both, if it were permitted), but instead decided to hurl the ball past the bowler towards mid-off. This finally gave Robin and Naveen a chance to settle on a choice ends, and their second run was finally completed in comparative comfort.

Having sorted out that little issue, the only remaining question was whether we were going to complete our victory before one (or both) batsman had to retire. Retirement appeared to be a mathematical certainty until a late no ball and leg bye allowed Robin's "retirement boundary" to double up as the winning hit. He finished on a superb 27* (off 18 balls), with Naveen a highly creditable 21* (off 21 balls) at the other end - not bad for someone who last batted in 2015 (and even then only got to face 3 deliveries).

Even though it was only just past 8pm, it was miserable and dark and drizzly - having done well to have gotten a game in, we were all happy to retire to the nearby Red Bull for beer and pizza. Well beer, at any rate - each successive customer who ordered a pizza had to choose from an ever-decreasing list of options as the toppings started to run out. The medieval alchemists who wasted their lives trying to turn base metals into gold would no doubt have been impressed by the ease with which the bar staff turned mushrooms into goats cheese - although it was clear that the clientele thought this a rather less impressive feat.