Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Everyone knows the joy of scheduling a visit by someone from the local council, where it's impossible to make an appointment for a definite time, but instead is offered a "window" of anywhere up to five hours. The result is spending the entire morning sitting cross-legged, afraid to go the toilet for fear of the doorbell ringing at just that moment and a resultant "missed visit". Frustrating enough in the domestic situation, it was even moreso when this approach was taken by the County Council for the start of this evening's game. Having let us know that some of their guys would be late (fair enough in itself), we agreed to let them bat first, which led to a certain amount of grumbling from Remnants who didn't fancy fielding in the 30-degree afternoon heat. Indeed, the suggestion was made that the rest of their opposition players were actually waiting at the end of Oxford Road, ready to arrive once they'd received the call that we'd agreed to field - and, sure enough, they did have a full eleven present not much after 6pm. We were all out on the ground and ready to go by this stage, keen to get through our overs and repair the bar as soon as possible; but for some reason the opening batsmen didn't come out for another quarter of an hour (despite some increasingly pointed requests), effectively converting the start time of 6pm to a half-hour window. We were already starting to wilt by the time the first ball was bowled at the inexplicably delayed time of 6:20pm and it's even possible that this delay led to lacquer on the ball melting a little - certainly it was uncharacteristically slippery and hard to hold.
The early play was dominated by a series of proper batsmen who may have had some link to the Council but definitely had an affiliation with Cambridge St Giles's first team (which plays in Senior 1 on Saturdays). They combined some dismissive boundaries with superb running as our fielders were caught flat-footed - perhaps not so surprising given the conditions. While openers Daniel Mortlock (1/22) and Olly Rex (2/34) both got wickets, the reality was that the batsmen were dealing very comfortably with our medium pacers on the road that is Fitz circa 2016. It was time to slow things down, a ploy that worked very well as 'keeper Andy Owen held a thin edge off the bowling of Faruk Kara (1/21), who thus become the fourth member of the Remnants 200 wicket club. And then Olly Rex held onto a great outfield catch from the bowling of Quentin Harmer (1/20), who might have gotten a third over had he not criticsed his captain's haircut. Quentin's wicket not only got rid of a good batsman (Chris Badger, who had scored more than half the team runs up 'til that point) but also meant that we were finally bowling at two right-handers, a critical development given one very short leg-side boundary that had previously proved all but impossible to protect.
There was a brief sense of having regained control, and even a few near run out chances thanks to innovative throwing by Grant Kennedy (whose quick-release back-handers were always right on target) and Ferdi Rex (whose monster throw to the far end was a direct hit, albeit just a fraction of a second after the oblivious batsman had fortuitously made his ground). It was also around this stage that we got the sartorial moment of the day, with at one point the umpire, bowler, striker and 'keeper all in blue shorts - it was "a bit village" as Dave Norman put it . . . which was especially ironic as he was the bowler in question. More problematic was that another St Giles first teamer, Garryth Jackson, had started smacking effortless leg-side sixes, making his way to 74 before he tried the same shot once too often, holing out to Daniel just inside the line. We were then finally able to put the brakes on as Paul Jordan (2/16, thus making significant progress towards exiting the aforementioned 200 club) and Robin Eddington (1/8) ensured that, with the help of smart catches by Quentin and Faruk, only 10 runs came from the last two overs.
Having had our bowling smashed all over the park for an exhausting hour it would have been easy to be a bit dispirited; but in the conditions a total of 152/8 was no more than par, a fact that our openers Grant Kennedy and Robin Eddington demonstrated with a superb display of controlled hitting. Having played themselves in - only 27 runs came from the first 5 overs - they then accelerated beautifully, allowing the rest of us (and a good band of supporters, including Catherine Owen, Rexes Richard and Bettina, and Ellwoods Eli and Louisa) to set up camp at cow corner while Dave kept us supplied with shandies and ciders.
It was particularly pleasing to see Robin hitting his way back into form, although it was no surprise that Grant produced the shot of the day in the form of an effortless chip over cover off a slow yorker that most of us wouldn't even know how to hit, let alone be able to. The Council fielders were starting to get demoralised, with a few half-chances going down, and some absurdly prolonged chuntering about whether a no ball that had been smashed for six had in fact only bounced twice rather than the requisite three times. As the runs required shrunk to single figures it seemed a 10 wicket win was all but inevitable, but then Robin called for a risky (but plausible) quick single, only to be run out (for 65 off 55 balls) by a superb direct hit. He and Grant (who finished on 70* off 46 balls) had put on 148 runs in 100 very enjoyable deliveries, after which Ferdi Rex (4* off 1 ball) put the icing on the cake by smashing the only ball he faced to the cover boundary - although it was pretty clear he really wanted to hit a six.