Remnants vs. Grantchester

13:00, Sunday, September 3, 2017

Remnants (151/9 in 35 6-ball overs)
lost to
Grantchester (152/3 in 29.5 6-ball overs)
by 7 wickets.

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

After the usual run of late-August evening games which see everyone's desperation for more cricket slam up against the simple fact that it's dark by 8pm, an afternoon game is an absolute treat. Add in an idyllic venue - a field in Grantchester nestled between various orchards and the headwaters of the mighty Cam - and it's completely understandable why there was competition for the eleven places last year . . . although that makes it truly mysterious that we only got up to eleven for today when Nick Clarke, rejuvinated by his appearance in the President's XI game, unexpectedly answered the second desperate "PLAYERS NEEDED" e-mail of the week.

Perhaps the lack of players putting themselves forward was because they knew it was going to be cloudy (or that Grantchester was going to be subject to an invasion of the giant flying saucers from Independence Day).

Having succeeded last year by bowling first and strangling the opposition batsmen with our slow bowlers, it seemed reasonable, upon winning the toss, to try the same trick today. The only problem was that Saurav, who'd come to the ground in ordinary casual clothes, and whose massive backpack was later revealed to contain top-grade Arctic explorer gear, hadn't brought any whites. So we elected to bat first, thus giving Saurav a chance to get kitted out . . . only for him to then find there was enough spare gear at the ground anyway. We were already committed to batting at this stage, although for Saurav the impact of his mistake lasted all day as he endured a number of "wardrobe malfunctions" while testing various safety pins to their operational limits.

Playing at Grantchester offered us something special: spectators!

Things had gone wrong out on the field as well, as we'd somehow ended up agreeing to only call balls that passed outside the popping crease (i.e., the side line) as wides. This immediately had an impact as Jono Beagle (6) faced a crazily erratic over from Grantchester's tearaway opener, who sprayed the ball all over the place - although mainly down leg - and yet somehow conceded just 7 runs from his first 4, largely unreachable, overs. Even more annoyingly, he also nabbed the wicket of Nick Clarke (8), who was caught at point after toe-ending a cut to what, ordinarily, could have been left as a wide. Things then went from bad to worse as Grantchester brought on Jake Jones, who'd run through our top order last year and did pretty much the same today, picking up his second wicket (that of Tom Serby, for 13) before conceding his second run.

Kshitij Sabnis takes strike while Dave Williams looks on from the safety of the non-striker's end.

Our innings went into a real funk at this stage, with just 2 runs scored in 3 overs, before Dave Williams (36), Kshitij Sabnis (19, hence reducing his Remnants career average from infinity to a mere 151.00) and Saurav Dutta (14) mounted a spirited rescue effort. At 108/5 after 24 of our 35 overs, and with the batsmen scoring freely, we were looking at a total of 170-odd, but a couple of quick wickets forced a re-evaluation. Richard Rex (10) and Daniel Mortlock (20, and dismissed by a bowler in a Remnants game for the first time since 2015) at least kept the scoreboard ticking over, but couldn't see the innings out. In the end this task fell to our last-wicket pair of Quentin Harmer (7*, despite using an awful-sounding bat that finally cracked with 2 balls remaining) and Faruk Kara (2*) who survived rather more comfortably than those who'd preceded them.

Dave Williams: impenetrable defence.

"How many runs did yours make?"

The sense was that our total was 30-40 less than we needed, and so we headed out into the field with a simple aim: take wickets! And, at least in theory, we had the bowlers to do just that, with the three top wicket-takers for the season, Faruk Kara (28, equal fifth on the all-time list), Daniel Mortlock (20) and Paul Jordan (19, the most he's ever taken in 33 seasons), present and eager to add to their tallies. Which was precisely what they didn't do. Daniel (7 overs, 4 maidens, 0/8) was hyper-economical, conceding just 1 run from his first 30 deliveries. Paul (0/26) conceded that many before even 1 delivery, as he began his spell with a shocker down leg-side that was a wide even by today's rules, but then induced a few edges, although none carried to the increasingly populated slips cordon. Faruk (0/25) actually induced some proper chances, but 'keeper Kshitij Sabnis couldn't quite complete a tricky stumping and then Daniel managed to drop both openers in the space of four balls when he failed to cling onto near-identical chances at mid-wicket (both of which popped up after the initial drop, only to fall tantalisingly out of reach).

The pose of a man whose hands hurt from dropping catches.

And that, it turned out, was probably when we went from "losing" to "lost". Saurav Dutta (1/33) eventually bowled the less fluent of the two Grantchester openers with the second last ball of his spell, but by this stage their total was already in triple figures. And Richard Rex (0/28) had the other opener dropped by Quentin Harmer off the first ball of his spell, only for Quentin (2/27) to then "pay it forward" when another chance went down off his first ball. Quentin did eventually take a couple of wickets, thanks to a good catch by Richard (who'd had to wave off Saurav) and a nice stumping by Kshitij, but it was all a bit too late, and Grantchester hit the winning runs with more than 5 overs remaining, their surviving opener having dominated the game with his undefeated innings of 77*.

Still, at least the early finish meant that we had plenty of time for a few pints at The Blue Ball, where pretty much all the players, and plenty of the spectators (and their huge dogs), squeezed into this most bijou of pubs. It was, all in all, a pretty decent end to our season, and hopefully we'll be able to do the same next year.