Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Frustrating as it was to just miss out on chasing what was really only a par total in the conditions, the bottom line was that were were out-gunned today. The Woozlers' side, like ours, was made up of a mixture of "true" club regulars (i.e., people who don't play for anyone else much) and a mix of good standard league players; but somehow they seemed to have that "X-factor" in every department, with batsmen who were slightly more destructive, or bowlers who were more likely to deliver a wicket-taking ball, or fielders capable of zooming around the boundary to turn a four into a one. Seen in that context getting within 8 runs of their total was pretty good going - but with just the tinest of perturbations we could have won.
And we probably were winning for the first third of the game, as we'd restricted some good batsmen to 82 runs from the first 13 (six-ball) overs. The star here was debut player Garryth Jackson, who was involved in the first four wickets to fall: he bowled their opener on his way to figures of 1/21; then took calm catches off Jono Beagle (1/21) and Faruk Kara (2/34); and completed the set with a nice run out when the batsmen foolishly went for a second run after he'd made a superb diving stop. (He also had a chance of a second run out when his fast and flat through scored a direct hit - but, unfortunately, it was on Tom Serby, who was between Garryth and the stumps.) Otherwise, our fielding was a bit mixed, with several boundaries going through fielders, though some good work was done by John Young (who kept turning twos into ones by meeting the ball head-on), Daniel Mortlock and Jono (both on the square boundaries), Andrew Granville and Tom Serby (who both took seemingly endless body blows as they got something in the way of hard-hit shots), and Chris Badger (at long-on both ends). The more astute of you will have seen a sad pattern here: it was all about containment and saving boundaries, and at no stage were we able to put real pressure on the batsmen. The only other highlight was the one wicket that didn't involve Garryth: faced with our "own" Temoor Khan (well, turns out he was recruited by the Woozlers before he'd even heard of Remnants) Faruk didn't flinch and comprehensively defeated him with a ball that would have presented 'keeper Matt Samson with the easiest of stumping opportunities but for the fact it hit the stumps on the way through. More important from the point of view of the game though was that 73 runs came from the last 7 overs, taking the Woozlers to 155/5 - it was far from an insurmountable total, but our hard-earned advantage had gone and it was probably a 50/50 game at the change of innings.
Our chase began superbly with Matt Samson (39 off 28 balls) and Tom Serby (36 off 43 balls) both scoring freely and 5 penalty runs donated by Temoor when his off-course return from the boundary scored a direct hit on the wicket-keeper's unused helmet (which was swiftly couriered from the field by the Woozlers' young dogs-body). With the score on 74/0 in the 11th over we were right on target - and now the batsmen were well and truly "in" the scoring would only accelerate, right? Unfortunately not: the next 5 overs saw us score at only a run a ball and lose 3 wickets in the process. What had seemed the perfect springboard to kick off from had turned into a serious challenge: scoring needed 49 runs off 5 overs with two new batsmen at the crease was going to take either a loose over or extraordinary batting. Instead, what we got was immaculate bowling - the Woozlers didn't send down a single wide or no ball all innings - and batting that was merely very good. Garryth Jackson (27* off 23 balls) and Jono Beagle (19* off 17 balls) both played superbly to score at more than a run a ball, but the fact that the Woozlers' death bowlers won the battle is undeniable: only two boundaries came in the last 4 overs, the same number we'd conceded from our last 2 balls when fielding.
Still, it was the longest night of the evening, it was still warm at 9pm, and Dave had a polypin (Huh? Sounds like a parrot-shaped brooch . . .) of Dionysus which seemed to be regarded very highly even by high-end ale critics like Faruk. There was also a continuation of last night's conversation about who Dionysus was, and it turns out we got pretty close: yes he's the Greek god of wine, although that wasn't his first job; and yes Bacchus is the god of wine too - but it turns out that this is basically a psuedonym, and that they're the same chap. (Incidentally, Dionysus's first role was to inspire creativity and poetry, so obviously that's a green light for writing these reports while tipsy on the weirdly artificial pre-mixed drinks that Marks & Spencer foists on thirsty passengers at Cambridge station.)