Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Compared to yesterday the weather today was magnificent: cloudy, cold and windy. Rather than providing an opportunity, winning the toss instead resulted in a dilemma: it didn't feel like it was going to be easy to bat in these conditions . . . but would it be even worse later on? In the end we went for the "better the devil you know" approach, inserting the County Council . . .
. . . and then almost immediately realising we didn't have any fast bowlers who could exploit the new ball. Still, that didn't really seem to matter as we spent the next half hour in an "everything turns to gold" phase. This is illustrated best by the absurd success of our various bowling changes (the primary motivation for which was simply sharing the bowling around rather than any great strategy), with the combined yield from the first overs of bowlers 1-4 being 4 overs, 2 maidens 2/3. Daniel Mortlock (0/13) gave nothing away; Faruk Kara (2/15) and Nathan Wright (2/21) both began with wicket-maidens; John Moore (2/22) induced some fatal cross-bat swipes; and Quentin Harmer (or, rather implausibly, "Harbour" in the scorebook) was incredibly unlucky to end up with 0/24. This was in part because 'keeper Grant Kennedy failed to complete several stumpings primarily because he had to be so disciplined in waiting for the ball to reach him - although Grant did make two other stumpings and take a catch to complete a pretty handy hour's work behind the pegs. We also backed up the bowlers well in the outfield, as a succession of hard-hit shots were well stopped, hence turning would-be boundaries into singles. The absolute star here was James Crozier (who must have saved 20-30 runs, as well as trying his best to break Julius's wrist with a hard flat throw from the boundary that was inches away from being an incredible direct-hit run out), although Rob Harvey (marking his first Remnants game for the season by making numerous superb stops and taking a well-judged catch), Julius Rix (who got the muggins job of patrolling the short boundary all day but let nothing through) and Daniel (who managed to convert a straightfoward chance into a potential finger-breaker by running towards the ball as fast he could, hence roughly doubling the impact speed) all did well too.
The result of all this was a target of 114, which instinctively felt like it should have been a doddle, especially with a strong top order . . . but in fact it was now darker, and the outfield heavier, meaning that the County Council actually had a genuine total to defend. And they managed this superbly, stifling our top order with disciplined bowling, the key being that we hardly got anything short enough to play on the back foot, while it was getting increasingly difficult to drive with the ball staying lower. The one exception to this was Cam Petrie, who introduced himself to the game by smashing his first ball back over the bowler's head and into the sightscreen (which he then asked to be moved) and crunching four more boundaries in his first 14 balls. Cam had made it to 29* off 19 balls, and seemed set to race towards 40 and retirement, but a calling mix-up resulted in a ridiculous run out. Add in another wicket next over and we reached the half-way point of the innings on just 50/4 - hardly fatal chasing a low total, but also far from ideal, especially with two new batsmen at the crease. And, sure enough, only 25 runs came from the next 6 overs as neither John Young (15 off 27 balls) nor Daniel Mortlock (6* from his first 15 balls) were able to do more than scamper a succession of increasingly ambitious singles. At the end of the 18th over we still needed 24 runs from 12 balls, with Nathan Wright now having joined Daniel, and it's at this point we take up the action:
With a few drops of rain in the air, Mortlock runs off the ground to get some headgear, eventually re-appearing with Faruk Kara's faded Romsey Town cap. (Some uncharitable team mates suggest the purpose is to contain the batsman's rather wild hair and hence decrease air resistence while running between wickets.) The County Council take this opportunity to discuss tactics, making the surprising decision to take off Hunter (who conceded just 13 runs from his 3 overs, despite the handicap of bowling in tight jeans) and bring on Ames (yet to bowl this innings).
Remnants need just 5 runs to win - but maybe it should it be "just" 5 runs to win, given that Wright (4* off 8 balls) isn't really in yet and new batsman Quentin Harmer hasn't faced a ball this season. (Another tactical wrinkle produced by the retirement rule is that it would probably have been better for the boundary fielder to have let the ball through on the penultimate ball of the previous over, as the chances of a new batsman hitting his first ball to the boundary are pretty low, which would have put the County Council ahead of where they are now.) The County Council have brought back their opening bowler, Prosser, who is unlikely to give anything loose and will be even harder to pick up in the gloom than he was earlier on.
After 30 overs of fairly pretty attritional cricket the game suddenly came alive, ending in the most exciting possible fashion with a final ball victory for Remnants (its fifteenth).