Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The icing on the cake of the Remnants season came in the form of a near-perfect "post-season" match at Grantchester today. The setting was stunning, the weather unbelieveably nice, the opposition friendly, and the ground surrounded by spectators and passers-by.
Having settled on a 30-over format, we agreed to bowl first as our two missing players were closer to the ground than Grantchester's were - although strictly theirs were at distance "undefined" since they didn't exist. That decision worked out rather well, as we produced a superb all-round performance in the field, backing up tight bowling with top ground-fielding and some excellent catching. Seamers Joe White (5 overs, 2 maidens, 1/7), Robin Eddington (3 overs, 0 maidens, 0/14), Daniel Mortlock (5 overs, 0 maidens, 1/13) and Paul Jordan (5 overs, 1 maiden, 0/16) all found immaculate lines, but the real highlight was when our pair of ultra-slow bowlers spent the middle part of the innings bamboozling the batsmen with their extreme flight and big (if not sharp) turn. Richard Rex (1/39) found himself bowling to an off-side cordon of slip, gully, point, sweeper, extra-cover and mid-off, and would have had several wickets but for the fact that the ball never seemed to carry to the increasingly close ring of catchers. The real star, though, was Phil Watson (6 overs, 1 maiden, 3/21), who dismissed both Grantchester's top scorers, one stranded yards down the track and the other caught and bowled after hitting a straight drive that seemed far more likely to decapitate the umpire than result in a dismissal.
While this fast reaction catch was our clear fielding highlight - Geoff, the endangered umpire, was later heard mulling it over as a potential Champagne Moment [Which it eventually became - ed.] - just about everyone had a good day out. Andy Owen not only completed the above stumping, but also kept his head take a top edge that he could easily have lost track of; Richard and Tim Cannings both took regulation chances with a minimum of fuss; and Tim, Joe and Robin were all faultless in the deep. With the total just 81/3 after 22 overs, the main danger seemed to be that we'd rob ourselves of a good game, a sentiment that seemed to be shared by the numerous and vocal Grantchester supporters, who absolved us of any obligation to sledge the batsmen by performing that duty themselves.duty themselves. And the barracking did perhaps have an effect as some cheeky singles (e.g., running a leg-bye after the ball had gone straight to first slip) and big hits did bring the total up to a more respectable 113/7 by the time the innings had closed.
During the delicious tea we overheard some of the Grantchester players explaining to their disgruntled supporters that they'd been able to "defend anything over 130 on this pitch", and so it was tempting to spread some counter-rumours that "we've easily chased down anything under 160 this year." Really, though, such mind games were surely unnecessary given our top order's season records: 1. Tom Serby 293 runs at 41.86; 2. Tim Cannings 89 runs at 29.67; 3. Cam Petrie 27 runs at 27.00; 4. Dave Williams 101 runs at 12.63; 5. Andy Owen 109 runs at 21.80; and 6. Robin Eddington 238 runs at 79.33. Indeed, given how many eight- and nine-wicket wins we've had this year, it seemed far more likely that we'd face the problem of the middle order not getting a bat at all.
All of which was, of course, terrible hubris, the first inklings of which were when one of said middle order rejected an offer of opening the batting on the grounds that "I've heard they've got a seriously quick opening bowler and I'm too old to face him." Both of which turned out to be true, as one Jake Jones did for our top three in a superb spell of 6 overs, 2 maidens, 3/10 (which forced a re-evaluation of our own bowlers' efforts earlier in the day). Still, once he'd bowled out his allocation, we would surely be able to feast on the lesser offerings of the change bowlers . . . except one of those, Martin Baker, bowled an immaculate spell of left-arm spin (6 overs, 2 maidens, 4/10) in which he dismissed our numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7, two of whom were caught by Jones, now odds-on favourite for man of the match. Of our wonderful top order only Cam (19 off 15 balls) and Andy (13 off 36 balls) made it into double figures, and mid-way through the 23rd over we'd been reduced to a pathetic 69/8.
The Grantchester players and supporters were understandably ecstatic with each new wicket, and it was now absolutely clear that we were losing, with 45 runs needed off 45 balls with just 2 wickets in hand. Daniel Mortlock and Joe White then settled on the unoriginal, if clearly correct, strategy of defending straight balls and trying to knock singles off everything else. They were aided in this by the fact that we did finally get the loose bowling we'd been hoping for, the 24th over lasting 10 deliveries and leaking 15 runs. And, just like that, all the pressure was off, the chase eventually completed with three overs in hand as Joe (14* off 13 balls) cracked a few dismissive pulls before Daniel (29* off 27 balls) hoiked a wayward delivery across the long boundary and into the river to finish the game. (Although the fact that it was a four rather than a six means he's destined to be stranded on a total of 2999 Remnants runs for the next seven months.)
The early finish meant there was plenty of time to wend our way back towards Cambridge, where we took up position outside The Blue Ball (which was itself one of our most regular opponents until civilities ceased mysteriously in the mid-'90s) and watched the battle of the dogs - Rhodesian Ridgebacks vs. all comers - continue as the light finally faded on the day and our season.