Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Just before yesterday's game there was hail in Cambridge; today we managed to top that with some pre-match snow (at least if Faruk's Facebook feed can be considered a canonical source of weather data). Some cloud cover meant it didn't feel quite as cold this evening, but there was once again a general sense that everyone was hoping there'd be a downpour and we could all just go home - quite a perverse situation given that mid-week cricket is purely a leisure activity (well, except for Geoff, for whom it is something part-way between religion and curse).
We did get a downpour a few overs into our innings, and the bringing on of covers had a sense of finality about it. Indeed, Andy (as Romsey captain), Daniel (as Remnants captain) and Dave (in his role as groundman, not Romsey turncoat) had an informal meeting with lots of mumbling about "calling it", but nobody quite could because the rain was now lighter than when we'd started. And once the cloud thinned to the degree that we could actually tell vaguely where the sun was, there was no choice but to get going again. We'd started with a 14x8 game, which got shortened to 12x8 - and then, a bit later, to 11x8 when the clocked passed 7pm with several overs still to be bowled in the first innings. So that's what we got: a hyper-abbreviated game of 88 balls a side and two hours of slipping around while trying to stay warm.
After an early wicket, our innings was (like yesterday) dominated by a single big partnership. But where yesterday it was established Remnants players in the runs, tonight it was debutants: Dennis John and James Crozier, both recruits from the recently-concluded net sessions. Dennis's method was to come down the track and hit through the line; James's was a little more measured, but every bit as effective. Their running was a bit too passive - James was in flats and couldn't really turn, and of course they'd only just met, so didn't really have a mutual understanding (although, strictly speaking, that's not actually needed if the traditional "yes", "no", "wait" method of calling is adopted) - but it didn't really matter as fielding the orange ball in the wet once again proved to be beyond anyone's ability. (This puts Julius's, Tom's and Dave's catches from yesterday in their true perspective - every other chance given by both teams this week has gone to ground.)
In the end Dennis (68* off 43 balls) and James (56* off 39 balls) compiled an undefeated 118-run partnership, taking us to a surely winning total of 125/1. Indeed, the only real reason it wasn't an absolute cert was that Dave Norman, fresh from a match-winning spell with the ball for Remnants last night, was quickly seen to be padding up, and was more than capable of winning a second match for the week, this time with his brand new Lithium (as distinct from lithium) bat.
Not that we had to worry about that straight away, being faced with batsmen who were merely decent rather than county-level. Initially it seemed they were going to run us into the ground, as they successfully played tip-and-run (giving us an object lesson in how to steal runs in difficult fielding conditions), but soon we managed to apply a very effective strangle with a combination of spin and dibbly-dobbly medium pace. Daniel Mortlock (0/13), Alec Armstrong (1/24), Joe White (1/15) and Josh Nall (0/13) were all boringly tight, and with the score at 40/1 after 7.3 overs we were well ahead of the game.
But when the score became 40/2 after 7.4 overs it had suddenly gotten interesting again, because Dave Norman was striding to the crease in just the sort of "nothing to lose" situation in which he revels. Joe got a beautiful leg-cutter - enhanced by the incredibly engorged seam on the orange orb - to zip past Dave's outside edge, and it felt like that might have been our one (almost) chance. Still, even a very good batsman doesn't tend to like facing genuine wrist spin first up, so we threw the dice by giving Shoaib Shahid (1/18) his third and final over. And, in short it worked, Shoaib bowling Dave with a perfect leggie - probably not the first time he's been defeated by such a delivery, but surely the only time he's been dismissed by someone bowling in a yellow hoodie and a maroon beanie (with pom-pom).
A match that felt in the balance only a few minutes earlier was suddenly going to be a huge win, thinks to continued tight bowling, some great ground-fielding by Martin Law, Dennis John and John Young, as well as classily sharp 'keeping by Grant Kennedy. Indeed, it was only with a couple of final over boundaries that Romsey even got past half our total.
So, a completely miserable week's cricket in horrid conditions, probably enjoyed at an individual level only by the four top order batsmen (Tom, Grant, Dennis and James) who made big early-season scores . . . and yet there's something to be said for being 2-0 before May, something we'd not mangaged in any of our 36 previous seasons.