Report by Ferdi Rex:
It was already dark when captain Ferdi Rex went out for the toss. The opposition captain told him with complete honesty that "I have absolutely no idea what to do, just hoping you win the toss." Although it was the same wicket as the evening before, it didn't look it, having received the full fury of the ferocious storms over night. Unfortunately for the opposition captain, he won the toss and had to take the decision, which was to bat first. This was much to Ferdi's relief as his team, though quite well balanced, appeared to be slightly stronger in the bowling department. So Remnants took to the field hoping to keep the Philanderers to a chaseable score, anything below 160.
Felix and Faruk opened the bowling, keeping their opening bats tied down with some really tight lines. Felix made use of the spongy pitch, getting some good length balls to rear up almost over the batsmen's heads. Behind the stumps Andy started brilliantly, taking the deliveries from a good length over his head at times, and conceding just 2 byes on a pitch which could have given ten times as many! The pressure on the batsmen told as, after they had hit a couple of nice boundaries, Faruk induced the opening bat to go over the top of captain Ferdi at deep mid-on: almost over the top, that is, as Ferdi took the catch over his head running towards the boundary. Saurav came on in the very next over, and followed Faruk's lead, tempting the number 3 into a big off drive, taken cleanly a foot off the ground by Ferdi again (at mid-off this time), the ball seemingly following him around the field. Saurav bowled brilliantly throughout his spell and finished with 1/19, unlucky not to get more wickets. Throughout the first ten overs the bowlers were very well backed up by the fielding, with some hard shots stopped by bodies rather than hands, but stopping several boundaries nonetheless. In particular, Todd, John Young and Dave had the ball finding them consistently, and not letting it beat them. With the second wicket came a worryingly familiar sight, Matt Samson walking out on to the pitch playing against Remnants, and playing against Ferdi for the second time in 2 days. Memories of the night before flashed across the minds of everyone who had been there, but were blown away after Saurav tempted him into an extravagant off drive, catching the edge of the bat and unfortunately flying past Faruk at gully. Finishing his spell, Faruk tempted the number 1 into a horrible hoik which he missed and was bowled, much to everyone's astonishment as he had hit 8 off 3 balls in the over already. It was 70/3 at the halfway mark, and with Matt Samson having not yet played himself in, we were upbeat in the field and hopeful of keeping them under 150.
John Moore (0/31) and Quentin bowled brilliantly in the second half of the innings, beating the bat many times with flight and guile. Andy continued his hard work behind the stumps by chasing down any edges or balls off the pads to keep the runs down to the minimum possible. The famous Remnants tempting bowling induced another false shot from Matt, but unfortunately Saurav was unable to position himself correctly and Matt rode his luck again. Quentin finished a brilliantly economical spell with 0/18, while John was unlucky to bowl his last over to a Matt Samson who had now played himself in and duly set about picking gaps in the field at will, hitting 4 fours in the over. Special mention goes to Tom Serby, who patrolled the cover boundary for two thirds of the innings and worked very hard out there, and was therefore rewarded with moving back into the ring so that he wouldn't be too tired for batting. Felix and Faruk came back on to close the innings out, finding their lines and lengths yet again and not allowing the batsmen to really press on. Felix was really unlucky not to get a wicket with 0/26 off his 4 overs, and Faruk had the unenviable task of bowling the last over to two very well set batsmen. However, one boundary off the final over is definitely a job well done and he finished with 2/42, with 2 very important wickets. And at least we had stopped Matt Samson from hitting his third century in as many days, as he "only" got 83*, taking his total up to 284 in three days without getting out. Overall, 160/3 off their 20 overs had us going in to the pavilion with positivity, with a batting line-up that was suited to chase this kind of total.
Todd and Tom went out to bat in what was arguably better light than at the start of the match. They got off to a flying start, punishing poor bowling all around the field. There were some pulls and drives by Todd, while some terrible full tosses were put away with ease by Tom. 33/0 off the first 4 overs and we were just above the required run rate. Unfortunately with the first change of bowler came a wicket, as Todd tried to cut a half tracker, and hit it straight to extra cover, having got 30 off just 19 balls. Ferdi came out to bat at 3 and carried on with more of the same, running hard, pushing the boundary fielders, and rotating well. At 86/1 at the halfway point, it was feeling easy. All that Remnants had to do was keep rotating the strike and punishing the bad balls (of which there were plenty). Unfortunately Tom (26 off 31 balls) and Ferdi (28 off 23 balls) both threw their wickets away, trying to smash some particularly slow and short bowling. Ferdi first hit the ball straight down long on's throat and was replaced by John Young at 4, and then Tom top-edged a sweep. Even worse for Remnants was that these wickets fell in two consecutive balls, and our two set batsmen were both out.
Things got even worse for Remnants as Saurav was out the next over, somehow yorking himself, to be bowled for a duck. In the confusion of losing three key batsmen within 5 balls, a crucial mistake was made. Ferdi had planned to send in Quentin at number 6 and Felix at number 7, unless the chase was into the last five overs, in which case that order was to be reversed. Having only just emerged from the pavilion when Saurav was out, Ferdi was caught unawares. Quentin checked he was meant to be going in, and with a quick glance at the overs remaining (7), Ferdi agreed. Next ball he realised his mistake. The whole point of the batting order was to make sure we always had one attacking player and one not so attacking player batting together. John and Quentin did their best to rotate the strike but were tied up by some tight, experienced bowling, for a few overs until John was out caught for 6 (off 16 balls) and Quentin was run out for 13 (off 17 balls), both in the 18th over, by a very accurate throw from the boundary.
The lowest point of the game came in these overs, as the opposition became more and more relaxed, at one point having conversations while the bowler was running in, while the ball was in the air, and even until the ball came off the bat and they had to get the ball. Ferdi, now umpiring, asked them politely not to talk as the bowler was running up, only to face some fairly hostile reactions from their more junior players, with claims of "it's only a friendly", "if the batsmen want they can pull away", and "if he's gonna be like that I might start properly sledging them." Not quite the way Remnants cricket is usually played, and yes, it was just a friendly, but that means there's even more reason to be polite and allow the game to be as contestable as possible.
Anyway, moving back to cricket, with only 21 runs scored from the previous 6 overs, Felix and Andy needed 46 from the last two, a well-nigh impossible task. Felix was out trying to kick on, caught for 4 (off 3 balls), and then Andy (4* off 5 balls) and John Moore (7* off 5 balls) batted out the remainder of game, taking the score to 133/7. The moment that decided the game was the 5 balls where Tom, Ferdi and Saurav were all dismissed, and we will never know what would have happened if Felix had indeed gone in number 6 . . .
The game was played for the most part in good spirits, and it was very much neck and neck for three quarters of the match. We just fell away at the key moment. Here endeth the report of the 999th match played by Remnants Cricket Club.