Report by Daniel Mortlock:
As at 6pm this evening Remnants was one of countless cricket clubs around the country to have played hundreds of games in its history. But a few minutes later, after Paul Jordan had sent down what probably should have been called as a leg-side wide, we'd entered the rarified territory of four figures: our thousandth match had begun . . .
. . . or so we all thought. Unfortunately, a bit of post-match investigation revealed that some non-matches (mainly the mid-noughties six-a-side tournaments) had been erroneously included in our records; removing them revealed that this evening was, much less excitingly, match number 994. Still an impressive achievement, to be sure, but somehow not quite so special.
Anyway, despite his inauspicious beginning, Paul quickly sorted his line out and soon induced a thin edge that was smartly held by 'keeper Ferdi Rex. (The fact that Ferdi had the gloves on was a story in itself, as at various times during the day our 'keeper set to be Andy Owen, Dave William's son Patrick, and "nobody".) A bit later Paul (3/20) came back on and got two more wickets when Alec Armstrong twice overcame what appeared to be near-paralysing fear to hold catches from mis-hit drives. The first of these gave Paul his 300th Remnants wicket, meaning he joins a rather exclusive club whose previous membership was just two: Tony Malik (365 wickets); and Daniel Mortlock (327 wickets by day's end).
All that history is very nice, but the far more pressing task was trying to ensure that this match became the 549th Remnants victory, as opposed to its 349th loss. To that end we juggled the bowling around until we found what seemed like the right combination of Alec Armstrong (1/19) and John Moore (0/27), who both bamboozled with flight and guile, so much so that the batsmen repeatedly found themselves laughing after unnsuccessfully trying to swipe yet another loopy ball. Daniel (2/18) then followed their lead, ditching his usual medium pace for wrist spin, which was successful thanks to a tidy catch by Julius Rix and a sharp stumping by Ferdi. Despite a couple of sitters going down in the final over - don't people know they're supposed to take catches off the captain's bowling and save their drops for the rank and file? - we finished up pretty happy to have kept ARM under a run a ball.
A total of 117 felt very chaseable, although we were perhaps guilty of judging this total in terms of Fitz: the Queens' wicket was pretty soft; and, with the outfield now becoming heavy with dew, it was probably a pretty evenly balanced game. Still, Dave Williams started brightly, using the faster ARM opener's pace to score with a succession of cuts (mainly late, but some punctual), the main effect of which was to deny his opening partner the strike. The fact that this was his 13-year-old son Patrick suggested this was accidental, but it was rather amusing that Dave had faced 14 balls (as well as a wide) and scored 11 runs before Patrick even got to take guard. Indeed, for a while it seemed Dave might make it to retirement (at 25) before he'd allowed Patrick to face, but in the end he didn't make it to retirement at all, being caught for 22 (off 22 balls). We then endured a rather turgid period of play in which just 20 runs came from the next 5 (eight-ball) overs as Patrick (3 off 13 balls), Julius Rix (8 off 12 balls) and James Crozier (7* off his first 14 balls) all struggled to score. By the time Patrick, Julius and Ferdi Rex (6 off 6 balls, with one scoring shot) were dismissed we were in deep trouble at 54/4, needing 64 runs from 48 balls.
That would have just about been okay if James and new batsmen Andy Owen could have paced themselves, but there was the additional hurdle that, even if they could both avoid being dismissed, they'd have to retire, leaving new batsmen to finish the job. Still, there was no better option than to run hard and punish the bad balls, and that's what they both did. They were robbed of a number of boundaries when the ball slowed up (or even stopped) in the wet grass; but they were also gifted a few bonus runs due to esoteric fielding, the clear highlight of which was when one ARM player opted to stop a drive by turning has back on the ball and blocking it with his rump.
Starting the penultimate over needing 24 runs from 16 balls with two set batsmen on 24 it would have been an even money game . . . but for the fact that they'd both be allowed only one more scoring shot. Sadly both were only singles as first James (25* off 31 balls) and then Andy (25* off 22 balls) retired in quick succession. With the ball now keeping even lower than it had been it's perhaps no surprise that the new batsmen couldn't do more than scamper singles, although there was perhaps some poetry that we ended with 316-game veteran Daniel Mortlock (2* off 4 balls) and 377-game veteran Paul Jordan (1* off 3 balls) batting together with fellow 316-game veteran Faruk Kara padded up and waiting to bat - between them they'd played almost exactly a thousand Remnants games.
In the end ARM simply defended their apparently unimposing total too well - it's not hard to imagine that with their better knowledge of the pitch they knew they were winning all along. What was particularly evident was our lack of boundaries - we managed just 9 in our whole innings - which at least meant that we finished early enough to sink a few (pre-emptive, as it turns out) celebratory pints at the Red Bull. It would have been nice to also consume a few celebratory pizzas, but they seem to struggle a little with this part of their repertoire: last time we were went to the Red Bull they'd run out of all but a few toppings; this evening they instead invoked the arrival of a "big group" to explain why they weren't making pizzas for anyone else at all.