Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Today's game was a beautiful tapestry that began unravelling even before it had been completed. For most of the season it had been settled in the fixture list as a standard evening match against, in this case, Cherry Hinton. They failed to get a team out (for the second time this year), but at least informed us in sufficient time that we could hope to organise alternative opposition. As there was a decent chance that this evening would be our mythical thousandth game, we ended up trying to assemble a team made up of representatives from a range of our regular opponents over the years (an idea that was shamelessly nicked from the Philanderers, who implemented this superbly a few years ago when they had a 25th anniversary match at Fenner's). Given the limited time available we were only partially successful, with the defining characteristic of the team being a massive representation of Cambridge St Giles players. It would be churlish to complain, given how often they have bolstered either us or our opposition this year, but it was a rather ironic state of affairs given that we've only ever played St Giles four times. Still, the final Rest Of The World team was reasonably representative:
The Rest Of The World
|Ryan Bridger (captain)||The Woozlers|
|Chris Badger||Cambridge St Giles & The County Conucil|
|Joshua Blanchard Lewis||NCI & Zoology|
|Garryth Jackson||Cambridge St Giles|
|Karti Malik||Cambridge St Giles|
|Andrew Thwaites (wicket-keeper)||UCLES|
|Matt Voutt||Cambridge St Giles|
And, from what we could tell, it was also pretty strong - kind of appropriate given that they were representing some seven billion people. That said, the 425 people who've played for Remnants had a pretty decent eleven . . . albeit somewhat reduced in strength overnight when star batsman/fielder/bowler/keeper (well, star batsmen/fielder/bowler) Ferdi Rex had a nasty bike accident which ruled him out of the game.
More of a problem - or, really, annoyance - was that, thanks to a seemingly endless sequence of wash-outs, this ended up being just our 999th game, with the mythical thousandth seemingly forever delayed. Not that this stopped a photographer from the Cambridge Independent coming down to the ground to take some photos in preparation for a story on the club that will hopefully come out in next Wednesday's edition. After a hastily organised team portrait, and some creative work with the scoreboard to almost make it read "1 0 0 0", we were finally ready for some cricket, with Remnants taking to the field.
Rahul Jhawar (0/43) started things off with some decent pace, but the lack of movement allowed the more aggressive of the ROTW openers, Nick Griggs (who quickly raced to retirement at 40 off just 20 balls), to open his shoulders right away. Rahul then induced an edge from the other opener, our own Chris Badger, that flew to Matt Samson's left at first slip. He did brilliantly to get his finger to the ball . . . although it turned out it was more a case of the ball getting to his finger, the last joint of which had been dislocated and not gone back into place. Any thoughts of popping it back in were quickly knocked on the head, and in the end ROTW captain Ryan Bridger very generously drove Matt to Addenbrookes A&E. He was eventually seen and discharged later in the evening with a clean bill of health (but explicit instructions to play no cricket for at least a week, which would be a record for him).
The combination of the break in play, the loss of personnel, and concern for Matt left the game feeling rather flat, as evidenced by some seriously low-energy fielding that, at one point, saw the ball roll to a halt roughly half-way between Paul Jordan at mid-wicket Rob Harvey at long-on, both of whom were politely waiting for the other to take on retrieval duties (while the batsmen happily grabbed the easy second run that was suddenly on offer). Still, Rob and Paul more than redeemed themselves during the next hour as they made a series of superb stops at mid-wicket and square-leg. This catalysed something of a Remnants recovery, to which Rob and Paul also contributed with the ball, their spells of 1/34 and 0/20 combining with good efforts by Temoor Khan (0/8) and Alec Amstrong (0/26) to get us within a sniff of a chaseable total, with the ROTW on 123/1 after 12 (eight-ball) overs. The "1" came in the form of a decent outfield catch by Daniel Mortlock off Rob's bowling, but he really should have had several more wickets, with a number of edges just going past the keeper's gloves and a more straightforward chance going begging when John Moore at gully made what looked like a well-timed dive, only for the ball to burst through his hands. Any frustration about the drop was, however, soon replaced by concern as John didn't move from his prostrate position and was audibly groaning in pain. The first thought was that it was another finger injury, or maybe a shoulder, and that a second hospital trip would be required . . . but it turned out that the ball had somehow managed to bounce up into his, er, groinal region. So while John definitely wasn't okay, it was also clear he soon would be. Albeit not soon enough to bowl, which unfortunately facillitated a late-innings blow-out as Daniel Mortlock (1/41), Rob and Rahul saw 52 runs comes from the final three overs of the innings.
While chasing down 175 never seemed too likely, Temoor Khan and Saurav Dutta gave it a good shot, combining controlled aggression with excellent running to take us to 100/1 in the 10th over. The only problem was, of course, the looming spectre of retirement, and so first TK (40* off 25 balls) and then Saurav (42* off 33 balls) were soon back in the pavilion, albeit through no fault of their own. John Moore (14 off 12 balls, along with a further two that were allegedly protected with three boxes) and Kshitij Sabnis (12* off 20 balls) tried to keep up the momentum, but the twin challenges of decent bowling and a serious lack of light proved too much. We all got a bit caught out by just how quickly it went from grey to black - no, it wasn't an eclipse - and the last few overs were more farce than cricket.
Even though our 12-over total of 117/2 was only 6 runs behind where the ROTW was at the same stage, there was no question that the contest was done; and, indeed, the main question soon became we would manage to bat out our overs. Alec Armstrong successfully hit the first ball he faced but couldn't tell where it had gone, and hared off up the pitch before turning around too late and just failing to beat the throw back to the 'keeper. Rahul Jhawar (2 off 7 balls) was than incredibly unlucky to be caught on the boundary, one-time Remnant Karti Malik completing what was an astonishing catch in the circumstances. Paul Jordan (1 off 6 balls) was then bowled by a ball he simply didn't see - "wish I'd had the option of bowling at full pace in those conditions" was his understandable lament. We did then switch to an orange ball, which was much better, and the ROTW bowling now slowed down, so Kshitij and Rob Harvey (2* off 6 balls) at least managed to bat out our overs without too much difficulty. (Although we scored only 3 runs, rather than the required 49, off the final over.)
The sense over post-match beers was of a valiant effort to create something special that was somehow fated not to succeed - there was some suggestion that it was more like match number 666 than 999. We can but hope for better things for match number 1000 tomorrow, although given that our opposition, Bar Hill, had just seven players at close of business today it was far from clear . . .