Report by Richard Rex:
Captain du jour Richard Rex approached this evening's match in the warmth of a long-awaited spring sun with a commendable show of organisation. After careful analysis of the team list, he concluded that he would win the toss, field first, and open the bowling with the nippy combination of Chouksey and White. Starting as he meant to go on, he promptly lost the toss. Well, not that promptly. The toss took place some time after the scheduled 5.45pm start, and there was then a further delay as ARM skipper Adnan made his decision contingent on which team might attain critical mass first. Once Remnants reached 9, he put us in [to field, presumably - ed.], generously lending us a couple of fielders, and play began shortly after 6.00pm
Unfortunately, the missing Remnants were Chouksey and White, so proceedings were initiated by Jeff Beaumont (0/10) with a fine first over from the Windsor Road end, followed by an equally tight over from Robin Eddington (0/20) at the other. Remnants' fielding was impressively sharp, led in the first over by two fine stops from the captain (who sadly spoiled the effect somewhat with a badly directed throw to spurn an easy run out chance). But John Moore, John Young (who had to leave the field towards the end after stopping one with his knee), Dave Green all pulled off committed stops and determined chases throughout the innings. That said, the ARM openers felt their way gradually into the game, and by the fifth or sixth (eight-ball) over were starting to display some considerable firepower. The impact of this, however, was mitigated by their own decision to play a retirement rule (fully aware that, in this fixture, played by our rules, Remnants would not do so), which ensured that whenever fluent strokeplay started to worry our attack, the responsible batsman would head off to the pavilion.
Pace off the ball looked like the way forward, so we shifted to the alliterative partnership of Alec Armstrong (2/28) and Richard Rex (0/23), operating respectively from the Huntingdon Road and Windsor Road ends. Alec was characteristically difficult to get away, and secured our first genuine breakthrough with an LBW, but the ARM strikers took a liking to Richard's bowling, opting to charge down the wicket and not let the ball bounce, which doesn't give his (al)leg(ed) spin any chance to do its stuff. (It was at about this time that Richard realised that he had consigned Julius Rix to the dark side of the ground, on the mid-wicket/extra cover boundary, for what might be the entire innings. Briefly considering a change, he decided on reflection that someone of Julius's long experience of Antarctic conditions would probably be finding it quite warm out there, and left well alone.)
The eventual arrival of Joe White extended the bowling options still further, and he closed out the Windsor Road end with his usual pace, despite the unaccustomed task of having to run in up the slope. Meanwhile, the key moment in the innings came at the other end, where John Moore produced a devastating one-over spell. A well-judged long-hop first ball produced a six into the Eachard Road netting and the consequent retirement of the ARM skipper, who had been playing some fine shots. Two balls later, came a plumb LBW, and another two balls later an almost identical delivery struck middle stump. Rounding off the over as he had begun it, with a tempting long-hop, John then secured his third wicket, pouched just in front of the pavilion by the reliable Robin. Explaining to anyone who would listen that he had to be careful how he bowled John Moore (3/8 from his 1 over) because he did want to spoil the game for the visitors, Richard then took him off, leaving Chouksey (1/10) and White (0/10) to administer the last rites. In the final over, Naveen was delighted to equal his last season's haul of wickets, by taking one.
A target of 119 looked about par as the shadows were already encroaching onto the track, but the Remnants openers, Rix and Law, rapidly made it look easy. Despite facing an array of bowlers none of whom could be regarded as slow, they accelerated rapidly into top gear. Julius produced his full range of dazzling shots, all based on that characteristic half backlift: the front-foot pull to mid-off, the standing on-drive to deep square leg, and the extravagant straight drive to deep third man. One genuinely false shot saw him stride two yards down the track and send the ball soaring straight up in the air. As Julius simultaneously lunged back for the crease and put a vain hand on his head for protection, the four or five ARM fielders in easy reach all started to advance, before leaving the task, understandably, to the 'keeper who, as he rushed past Julius, stumbled, and foozled ["foozled"? - ed. Yes, apparently - see definition below.] the relatively easy chance. Meanwhile, at the other end, Martin was playing in a more classical style. Troubled initially by a basically leg-side line, he soon solved his problems by shifting his guard outside leg stump. After this technical adjustment there followed an innings largely composed of cultivated flicks behind square and equally correct pushes and drives through the covers. This made it all the more surprising when, out of nowhere, he suddenly strode forward and casually lofted the ball over the Eachard Road netting for six.
After that, normal service was resumed. Julius eventually departed for a tempestuous 43 (off 26 balls), to be replaced by Robin Eddington. As the score reached 111, Richard turned to Joe on the pavilion bench and pointed out that Martin was just about to achieve the remarkable feat of having been on the field for an entire match. The next ball he was almost out, and Joe duly reprimanded Richard for thus risking the mockery of the cricketing gods. The next ball Martin actually was out bowled for an excellent 46 (off 33 balls). The captain's assurance that he had applied the mockers deliberately in order to make sure someone else got a bat was greeted with disheartening incredulity. Though Robin (22* off 22 balls) had some initial difficulty laying bat on ball in his first innings of the season, he and John Young were (2* off 4 balls) ble to see the chase serenely to its conclusion, a sound and comfortable win.
But when we meet ARM again later in the season and play by their retirement rule we shall need more than just a couple of batsmen to make sure we repeat this result against an opposition who are always challenging.
Frequency (in current use):
Etymology: Compare German dialect fuseln . . .