Report by Daniel Mortlock:
There's always the fantasy of starting the cricket season in a moment of perfection, the first ball being hit back over the bowler's head for six or curving past the perfect defense of the opposition's best batsman and shattering the stumps. And then there's what actually happens, which is always different from that fantasy, and particularly so tonight. Taking to the field, we began with a sequence of three 10-run overs, all sent down by different, if equally unsuccessful, bowlers. With our opposition, Romsey Town, motoring along at 32/0 after 3 (eight-ball) overs we were certainly back in the real world - although we did at least have a fourth bowler to turn to, Joe White having made his traditionally belated arrival at the ground.
And now we finally did get out fantasy, as Joe revealed the benefit of attending nets, as he started his season with 3 nearly faultless overs of line and length of which Glenn McGrath would have been proud. The result was entirely deserved figures of 3/8 and a Romsey batting line-up stopped in its tracks. Add in some good spells by our slow bowlers Alec Armstrong (0/13) and John Moore (0/12) and it took more than 6 further overs for Romsey to double the score they had after 3.
Even more pleasingly - and surprisingly, given how cold it was - we also fielded superbly. Wicket-keeper Matt Samson took three catches (all off Joe); Tom Serby made a series of sharp (and, apparently, increasingly painful) stops at cover; Grant Kennedy was impenetrable on the long square boundary (and invisible in his grey hoodie); and Michael McCann was predictably energetic in the deep, repeatedly saving second runs by coming in to meet the ball with an enthusiasm that bordered on the rabid.
The net result of all this was that we restricted Romsey to just 94 off their 13 overs (i.e., 104 balls), a particularly pleasing result given that today's team was made up mainly of batsmen. This did mean something of a dilemma when it came to deciding on a batting order, but it would be churlish to complain about such "problems".
After we lost an early wicket, Michael McCann and James Crozier started to build a steady partnership, although both were initally befuddled by Romsey's slower bowlers (even though they were also ours, Fark Kara and Russell Woolf being fourth and seventh on the all time Remnants wicket-takers' list). At 55/1 after 7 overs we were hardly struggling, but with dark clouds on the western horizon there was a sense that batting wasn't going to get any easier . . .
. . . but it did just that, the next two overs of leg-side balls and half-trackers going for 18 and 19 pretty easy runs. One more boundary off the first ball of the 10th over and we'd suddenly won in a canter. Michael very quickly established that he'd made the season's first half century, his lightning fast add-up putting him on 52* off 40 balls - although sadly he had thus exhausted himself to the degree that he had no energy left to work out James's score, and it was only now, some time later, that it can be reported he made an even faster 40* off 30 balls.
Winning by 9 wickets with 31 balls remaining was pretty awesome, but it was actually only our second biggest victory of the day. The greatest triumph stemmed from the fact that Cherry Hinton, our nominal opponents for tomorrow, had been unable to get a team together and so had pulled out late yesterday, leaving no time to make alternative arrangements. This was particularly annoying given the number of e-mails and calls that had been required to get our own Wednesday side together, and Daniel was grumbling about the situation to anyone who'd listen . . . one of whom happened to Matt Samson, who's lackadaisical response was "Cambridge University thirds just had our opposition for tomorrow cancel on us, so why don't we play each other?" Which, of course, was an even bigger victory as it meant not just a nice result on paper, but twenty-two people getting a game of cricket when it looked like they were going to miss out.