Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Given that the the last few weeks in this country have seen the government gamble away it's parliamentary majority, a series of seemingly increasingly regular terrorist attacks, and then, worst of all, a residential high-rise building destroyed by fire, it's perhaps no surprise that nobody was talking about cricket today. No, this being England, there was only one topic of pre-match conversation: the weather. There is actually a certain logic to this: a sequence of four 30+ days in a country with a mild climate does mean that most people struggle with the fundamentals: sleep is difficult; eating isn't particularly appealing; and everything and everyone seems to move in slow-motion. None of which is life-threatening stuff, of course, but it is the stuff of life. Moreover, the weather was relevant to the activity de jour: with clear skies and a sunset time of 9:24pm we had the perfect conditions for our now traditionally engorged Remnants vs. Remnants game, today's match being extended to 24 overs a side, but with compulsory retirement at 50 for any batsmen cheeky enough to play themselves in. The match would be played between what was generally agreed to be two strong and evenly-matched sides that were, with a stunning lack of creativity, listed as "team 1" and "team 2" on the changing room noticeboard. It was clear that these were just placeholder names, but like so many placeholders throughtout history (e.g., "the movement you need is on your shoulder") they stuck - and that despite both sides being tasked with coming up with something better. Remnants 1 captain Andy Owen called correctly at the toss and elected to field, leaving Remnants 2 captain Daniel Mortlock with the rather enjoyably difficult task of shuffling his pretty awesome batting order . . .
. . . which meant it shouldn't have mattered too much when Cam Petrie (13 off 9 balls), Andrew Granville (11 off 21 balls) and James Crozier (13 off 12 balls) perished at the hands of Adam Long (a superb 1/6 from his first spell) and Saurav Dutta (2/27). But further tight bowling from John Moore (0/19) and Faruk Kara (1/19) left Remnants 2 in danger of failing to set a serious target - certainly a total of 115/4 after 19 (six-ball) overs would have been all but "game over" in standard 20-over game. But there was just enough time for the Remnants 2 middle order to assert itself: Matt Samson (50* off 42 balls) made it to retirement; Phil Watson (29 off 32 balls) batted just like he did when making bucketloads of runs for Remnants in the mid-2000s; and Temoor Khan (39* off 20 balls) simply went beserk. His entire innings oozed class, but one four ball sequence facing Adam, who'd been brought back presumably in the hope of containing or dismissing him, was extraodrinary, with consecutive boundaries coming from a back-foot pull (4), a dismissive slap to leg (6), a pure off drive (6) and a textbook cut shot (4). The end result was that 59 runs came from the last 5 overs of the Remnants 2 innings; their eventual total of 174/5 from 24 overs meant that, given the conditions, the match was almost perfectly balanced.
Certainly the Remnants 1 top order weren't intimiated by the numerically imposing target as Todd Bridgman (52* off 46 balls), Tom Serby (19 off 20 balls) and Adam Long (42 off 36 balls) took their side to a very healthy 119/1 after 16 overs. Joe White (0/19), Paul Jordan (1/14) and Russell Woolf (0/17, in his first Remnants game since 2014) all bowled well, but in the end the only thing that slowed Remnants 1's progress was Todd's enforced retirement. Then when Daniel Mortlock (1/23) and Temoor Khan (2/27) both got wickets around the 20-over mark the balance was shifted again, although it's not clear in which direction, as this brought Daves Norman and Green together for a partnership which is perhaps best described as contrasting. Temoor's fast-spinning leg-breaks were too good for Dave Green, and he hence delivered the only maiden of the game; but Dave Norman was in his usual destructive form, mixing clever pushes for two with dismissive boundaries. With two overs to go the result felt most likely to rest on which Dave would get most of the strike:
Remnants 2 turns once again to the services of the prodigal furball Phil Watson, who marks his run out for his third spell of the innings. He's been expensive so far, his 3 overs having gone for 35 runs, but presumably they're hoping that his unconventional parabolic deliveries will be more difficult for Dave Norman to deal with than more conventional bowling.
So: 9 runs needed from the final over, which is to bowled by Temoor Khan (1/20 from his first 3). Whatever the result, the match has the conclusion it deserves with the best batsmen in the club facing off against the best bowler, like Ripley taking on the alien queen at the end of Aliens - but which is which?
A tie would perhaps have been the perfect result, but this was (obviously) pretty close. By the time we got to the bar it was comfortably after 9pm, but still easily warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the last of the light. A few hardy souls did push on for the traditional post-match curry, but the rest of us were more disciplined and concentrated on rehydrating.