Report by Cam Petrie:
Summer may be upon us, but sadly the match against Tektronix proved to be the final and most difficult to stomach ingredient on a shit-burger of a cricketing day for yours truly. An early phone call from Robin Eddington asking if I was willing to sub-in for him created the possibility of a day-full of cricketing fun, but "un-fun" is probably more appropriate.
The potential for said day-full of cricket was down to the fact that the second week in June is traditionally known as "cricket week" at Trinity College. For years uncounted the undergraduates have played a series of challenging but usually enjoyable matches scheduled across six of the seven days. The interest in all of this for a Remnants audience lies in the fact that the number of fixtures means that there are often spaces for wandering cricketers with spare time at the right time of day, and various Remnants have been known to bolster the undergrad numbers, most recently Richard Rex, Andy Owen and myself.
The Wednesday match is always against a team of nostalgic and wily Cambridge old boys known as The Racing Club who love to chase big scores in the declaration format, so the difficult decision is usually when to declare. The opportunity to open the batting at 11.30am, promised much, but being given out LBW in the second over when taking a big stride forward and getting an audible inside edge only provided frustration, and set the tone for the unmitigated carnage that was to follow. When the Trinity lads were 13/6 off 10 overs, an early finish looked fairly likely. That they managed to eek out 54 off 30-something overs was some achievement, but Racing Club were so quick to chase it down that there was more than enough time to squish in an unplanned 20-20 match to make up for the student's performance in the first match, which was, frankly, shithouse.
(If you think the fact that I was now up for three matches in one-day rather than two sounds pretty unappealing, you'd be right.)
Suffice to say, the undergrads redeemed themselves by almost chasing down Racing Club's 124 (though with no thanks to one C. Petrie, who lofted a limp drive off the second ball of the innings that was snaffled at point).
Aside from its cathartic benefits, this extended preamble is intended to lower expectations for what was to follow in the 6-8.30 pm slot as ten eager (+ one considerably less so) Remnants prepared themselves for the first of our annual matches against Tektronix. Recent fixtures have typically seen Remnants victories or close losses, but Tektronix appear to have expanded their job interview questionnaire to include "cricketing experience" at some point in the last year. Either that or they had found some cracking ringers. We didn't know it at the time, but the fact that we were playing by "Remnants rules" (i.e., no retirements for batsmen [They're not bloody "Remnants rules"; they're just "cricket rules"! - ed.]) would be the decisive factor of the game.
Things started well as we were put into bat, but Grant Kennedy's (60 off 38 balls) comfort against Tektronix's opening bowler belied his considerable pace. Josh Nall (4 off 7 balls) showed similar comfort against the more erratic other opener before inevitable strike rotation saw him nick off in the third (six-ball) over. Cam Petrie (2 off 9 balls) missed a beaming full toss and took it square in the chest and this combined with the malaise from the earlier part of the day no doubt helped him play limply around an out swinger that clattered into the stumps. Two balls later new bat Martin Law (0 off 2 balls) popped a catch back to the bowler, and Tektronix quickly had us by the throat.
Remnants seized the initiative back when Grant was joined by Dennis John (18 off 20 balls), and they proceeded to punish the bowling and lift our run rate to above 6 an over, which we were able to maintain for the rest of the game. Dennis nicked off to the keeper, which brought captain Julius Rix (25 off 14 balls) to the crease, and the aggressive scoring continued until Grant mis-timed one back to the bowler. After a few sighters, Joe White (18 off 18 balls) joined Julius in hitting singles and boundaries in an excellent display of death overs batting before Julius was run out in the 18th. Faruk Kara (3* off 4 balls) was able to keep the scoreboard ticking and the strike rotating before Joe was run out in the middle of the final over from the returning Tektronix speedster. This left John Moore four balls to see us home, and when he fended off the first of these Quentin Harmer briefly contemplated whether it was necessary to pad up, but the tilted stumps and spinning bails that accompanied the next ball saw John (0 off 2 balls) heading back to the pavilion and Quentin (0* off 2 balls) hurriedly donning as much padding as possible for the finish.
Our 140/8 off 20 overs seemed both respectable and defendable, but our confidence was relatively short lived as a certain Haz quickly set about attacking opening bowlers Joe White (0/30 off 4 overs) and Alec Armstrong (0/34 off 4 overs). Pretty much everyone else unlucky enough to be given the ball came in for similar - or worse - treatment.
It quickly became clear that the role of the other Tektronix opener (recorded as Dhoni in the scorebook) was to rotate the strike as Haz cut, drove, pulled and danced down to muller pretty much anything that we served up.
A bowling change was clearly in order, but Cam's aside that he had "bowled like crap yesterday" was deemed to be false modesty, and he was brought on to mix up the pace. While he did manage four dot balls in his first over, he also displayed an acute line problem by bowling four wides. He was, however, involved with our one moment of redemption in combination with John Moore as a drive to mid-off was gathered and hurled to the bowlers end and strike rotator Dhoni was out of his ground. This unfortunately brought Haz on strike, and he pounded the last two straight(er) balls for four. Cam went on to demonstrate an acute length problem in an almost certainly ill-advised second over as he managed a combination of blockable yorkers, drivable half-volleys, and smashable full tosses to end on a chastening 0/35. At the other end, Faruk Kara (0/17 off 3.4 overs) was the only one of our bowlers not to be carted all over the park as he exerted a measure of control.
Interestingly, even at 100-odd for 1 off 11 overs, the Tektronix square-leg umpire was adamant that we were only a wicket or two away from getting our teeth into a ropey tail, but sadly we couldn't make a breakthrough. Our ground fielding had been pretty good, to be fair, and Josh had been completely solid at backward point all evening, pulling off an array of run saving stops, but unfortunately managed to grass the only real chance that Haz gave all night. It didn't matter really as by that stage the damage was already well and truly done. Quentin had the unenviable task of making one last attempt to slow down the scoring rate, and actually managed one tight(-ish) over before two big sixes in his second brought Haz to 104* off 56 balls, and the Tektronix to a comprehensive victory in the 16th over.
We had been crushed and routed: their quick opening bowler had been too good for most of us, and it was pretty much a one-man show for Tektronix with the bat, as Haz scored over two-thirds of their runs in short order. His performance certainly made us rue the non-retirement rules we were operating under, though this would also have seen Grant scoring a lot fewer runs for us. Nevertheless, the game may well have been very different.
Perhaps no surprise then that it was a fairly demoralized bunch of Remnants that sloped back to the pavilion. Unfortunately, anyone hoping for a quiet pint to drown their sorrows was out of luck, as the Fitzwilliam College rugby team had been hard at the drinking games and chanting since about 7pm. The redoubtable Dave Norman was last seen struggling to find enough beer to keep them happy until the agreed 10.30pm cease and desist time.
Bloody cricket (week).