Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Given that we started off the week with twelve named players and another four "also available", it was rather disappointing for 6pm to roll around with just half a dozen Remnants at Fitz (not counting Joe, Rob and Faruk, who had all opted to betray us by turning out for FAS). Even more problematic was that we were only expecting ten to turn up, as a near-record series of drop-outs (religious festivals; birth contractions; calendar mistakes, etc., etc., etc.) combined nicely with an inability to contact our nominal twelfth man to leave us short.
We thus took the field with ten men, only for Richard Rex to drop by and, when asked, respond that he'd be happy to play, meaning we had a full team by the fifth over of the game. At this point we were doing pretty well, as Daniel Mortlock (0/17), Olly Rex (0/11) and Andy Owen (who conceded just 1 run from his first 2 overs) all did a good job of keeping the classy opposition top order quiet. And when Alec Armstrong (2/27) added a couple of wickets it was all too easy to think we were . . . actually, nobody thought anything silly like that at all, as we were faced with what we knew was a proper batting line-up that wasn't going to gift us wickets.
Sure enough, we spent the next hour enduring an unbroken century partnership that was pretty secure (although we did miss a few difficult chances). Far more importantly, though, we kept varying the bowling and our ground-fielding was rock-solid, meaning that they never got the fabled "big over" that the louder of the two batsmen was explicitly searching for. The most enjoyable battle was when John Moore (an unlucky 0/33) repeatedly bewildered the now set batsmen, inducing misses, mis-hits, edges and some very unorthodox shots. Add in some great support by Julius Rix, Dave Norman and Alec in the field and th result was that FAS didn't get to triple figures 'til the end of the 17th over. And while there was a predictable flurry of boundaries at the end of the innings, the final total of 141/2 was no more than par for Fitz this year.
Our innings started calmly, as Grant Kennedy and Martin Law played themselves in before finding themselves able to score off every ball. Martin (11 off 13 balls) was livid with himself for cutting a half-tracker from Faruk straight to point, but Dave Norman picked up right where he left off as he and Grant set about out-doing FAS's big partnership. Dave was a bit scratchy initially, and when he mis-timed a lofted drive off Faruk straight to Joe White at mid-off it seemed that once again a pair of Remnants were going to produce the winning moment against their own club . . . but the ball dipped late and Joe couldn't hold on, giving Dave the chance he needed. Dave's booming off-side play complemented Grant's flicks and chips beautifully and by the time we'd reached 97/1 after 12 overs (i.e., 45 needed from 48 balls) we were well ahead of the game - although all of us knew even one wicket would be enough to change that, given we were not going to be able to replace like with like. (Which was not the case with the substitute fielder we'd supplied to FAS: when John Moore foolishly noted that Alec "had been out there all innings" there was only one person who was going to be asked to replace him.)
Up until this point things had been pretty drama-free, and maybe even a little dull; but that all changed as FAS whipped themselves (well, mainly captain-in-all-but-name Cliff Dare) into an adrenaline fuelled frenzy in an attempt to find a way back into the game. Things started to get a bit heated at this stage, with some huge (if poorly motivated) LBW appeals and a couple of very close run out attempts that had everyone in the pavilion wondering what Hawkeye would have said. Probably the critical moment was when the umpire correctly turned down an LBW appeal that we could all see from the pavilion was too high, leading to an extended explanation by the bowler as to why it was in fact out. Meanwhile, the ball had bobbled out to fine-leg and the batsmen went for a second run that should have been fairly comfortable . . . but for the fact that the fast-moving fielder, who'd spotted that Dave was ambling back to the "safe" non-striker's end, fired in a tracer bullet throw that crashed into the stumps. From the pavilion it looked like Dave was in trouble - had he grounded his bat? - and there was a huge appeal . . . but the umpire had only just finished dealing with the bowler's remonstrations and was distracted at best. The inevitable result was a "not out" decision that was almost independent of whether Dave had made his ground.
Dave was caught soon afterwards (for 45 off 37 balls), meaning we had to decide who to send in to finish the job, the cricketing equivalent of the Conservative Party trying work out who should take charge of completing the Brexit process. The only difference being that where the Tory candidates include a man who's incapable of clapping (perhaps he should consult an expert?) and a woman who seems to think people are bargaining chips in some continent-wide poker game, we had an embarrassment of riches to choose from: regular batsmen John Young, Julius Rix and Richard Rex had neither batted nor bowled at this stage; and Andy Owen and Daniel Mortlock have traditionally enjoyed the end-of-innings "last few runs" role. In the end there was a sort of unaminity that there was only one man for the job: Julius. Sure enough, the match situation became an irrelevance as he went for his usual "see ball, hit ball" approach, and a potentially tense situation - the asking rate had nudged above a run a ball at one point - was difused with a couple of lofted boundaries, including the winning runs off the second ball of the final over. Julius (17* off 14 balls) and Grant (59* off 53 balls) had thus taken us to our eleventh win of the year and, even more pleasingly, our first against FAS since 2010.