Report by Cam Petrie:
That those Remnants who arrived early at Fitz were able to see a full complement (and perhaps full strength team) of CUCC Crusaders hustle their way through a multi-element fielding drill suggested that today's opposition were likely to be taking their mid-week friendly pretty seriously. The differences in approach were further emphasized when Andy Owen engaged in his own pre-match ritual of cracking open a beer and standing with the rest of us to watch the spectacle. Our second match of the season, against the UCam thirds, had seen them run out comprehensive victors, so although expectations of a Remnants victory today were not high, we had a relatively robust batting line-up, and a fair share of wily bowlers known for their variety and guile.
The toss saw Crusaders head out to bat, and although their openers were initially polite to Alec Armstrong (0/27 off 3 overs), they quickly set after Paul Jordan (0/22 off 2 overs), and then Alec, but saved their best for first change bowler Huw Wallis (0/21 off 1 over). Number four bowler Quentin Harmer (1/28 off 2 overs, and renamed "Quentin de Kock" by the Crusaders' scorer) was initially given the same treatment before trapping a disbelieving Crusader in front (said batsman seemed to be insulted that our bowling wasn't more threatening, but the irony that said bowling just seen him dismissed had somehow escaped him). By the time Robin Eddington (0/36 off 2 overs) bowled his first over the Crusaders were trying to score off every ball, and Cam Petrie at short-ish cover unfortunately managed to spill our only real chance of a catch, which hit both of his hands above shoulder height on its way to the boundary. The Crusaders' dismissive attitude was reflected in a relatively confused score book for these final overs, but Robin, Dave Norman (1/34 off ? overs) and Andy "Cohen" (2/22 off 2 overs) bowled us through. Getting frustrated with the surviving Crusaders opener repeatedly coming down the track, Dave fired one wide outside off, and Matt Samson whipped the bails off with the batsman outsmarted 50 cm outside his crease. Andy's tight leg-stump line saw two further Crusaders castled attempting cross-batted hoiks. Unfortunately, all of these wickets were a bit of a consolation as by the close we had been well and truly splattered for 209/4 off our 15 (eight-ball) overs. It remains a moot point whether we would have fared better with different bowlers on offer.
Undaunted, Matt Samson (36 off 60 balls) and Cam Petrie (10 off 9 balls) went out to see how we would fare against the Crusaders' bowlers, and they managed to flay some relatively wayward bowling for a number of sweet boundaries before Cam over-estimated the pace and popped an easy catch to mid-off. Dave Norman (30* off 36 balls) then came out to join Matt, and we were treated to 10 overs of solid, attacking, but fundamentally conservative and relatively chance-free batting.
The Crusaders' seemed to be offended by the fact that were not making more of an effort to chase down their massive total, but two factors prevented us having a hope in hell of coming close: first, the County Club(TM) ball that we were using had now been so comprehensively pummeled that several flawless and hard-hit drives came to a stop well inside the boundary; and, second, the Crusaders' captain had decided that the best way to make a game of it was to load the boundaries with fielders. Together, these factors made an effective chase virtually impossible without going for sixes off every ball. Dave and Matt therefore set about defending good balls and punishing the bad, and gradually increasing our score, but not taking unnecessary risks. The bowling was solid, but by no means unplayable, and the Crusaders' frustration at a lack of wickets was perhaps best emphasized by the huge appeal for an LBW from a fielder on the cow corner boundary. Dave was, perhaps unsurprisingly, not given.
Matt was ultimately bowled going for a big drive, and this saw a brief cameo from Dom Summers (1 off 4 balls), who was nearly felled by a Dave Norman straight drive that caught him above the elbow. On Dom's dismissal Michael McCann (3* off 8 balls) came in to join Dave and see us through to the last ball, which Dave nudged around the corner for a single - the innings in microcosm.
For the statistically minded, the Crusaders' 209 is the second highest total Remnants have ever conceded and 114 runs is our second worst loss by runs, but to be fair, in the face of a 209-run chase, relatively tight bowling and a deep-set field, we were batting more for honour than victory. We could certainly have gone for the bash, but it is unlikely we would have gotten far without losing wickets and potentially being bowled out, so we chose the nobler course.