Remnants vs. Romsey Town

17:45, Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Fitzwilliam College

Remnants (141/4 in 13 8-ball overs)
Romsey Town (82 all out in 11.4 8-ball overs)
by 59 runs.

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

People playing cricket (after 8 months without having done so).

By far our biggest achievement today was getting a match. Rewind to Sunday evening and the odds were that the torrential rain forecast for Monday would render Fitz unplayable . . . and that might actually have been a good thing, as Remnants (9) and Romsey (6) had just 15 players between them - and some of those might have been double-counted. But the rain never came, after which we got up to 10 plays 8 thanks to some inspired Romsey recruiting by Andy and a targeted Facebook advertising campaign by Matt Samson (that would have made Cambridge Analytica proud, not that we want that). Arriving at the ground it was lovely and sunny - and even warm if in direct sunlight - and so the 2018 Remnants season got underway in what were close to ideal conditions.

Batting first, we began as we had so many times last year, with a top three of Matt Samson, James Crozier and Tom Serby all playing with the right sort of risky aggression that's needed in these abbreviated formats. (Tonight it was a game of 13 eight-ball overs, or 104 deliveries, a side - there was brief talk of hosting the UK's first actual "Cricket 100" game, but that was quickly dismissed as an embarrassing gimmick.) Matt batted like you'd expect of someone who's been netting all winter, playing a series of superbly-timed shots all around the ground before making the mistake of hitting a six when on 44 - he was thus called in having made a superb 50* off just 31 balls. James (3 off 7 balls), on the other hand, played like someone who, er, had not been netting all winter . . . although he looked set to be as effective as ever before getting through his shot too early and hitting an easy catch back to Romsey captain Andy Owen (bowling very effectively off his enforced post-op one-step walk-up). Tom found a pretty happy medium between these two extremes, and his contribution of 30 (off 27 balls) was sufficient to push us into triple figures and what surely would be a winning total.

Daniel Mortlock and Tom Serby watch the Remnants score build up.

With our ascendancy already assured, it was quite nice that our innings finished with a series of eventful cameos. Aayush Sonthalia (one of Matt's Facebook recruits, making his Remnants debut today) played some lovely strokes for his 22* (off 21 balls), although he also bore the brunt of Romsey's surprise speedster, who suddenly came on mid-innings and was essentially too fast to hit - although also too fast to keep to, conesuctive boundary byes doing for our total what our batsmen couldn't. Then Dave Williams (6 off 8 balls) looked in good touch before becoming yet another disbelieving victim of Faruk Kara (playing for Romsey today). That gave Temoor Khan (11 off 7 balls) a chance to essay his effortless leg-side flicks: not many people are capable of hitting - no, timing - their second ball of the season for six; although a riduculous running mix-up curtailed what could easily have been the most destructive innings of the day. That left John Moore to face the final ball of the innings, which was arguably the most eventful of the entire match. The ball was full and straight, but John went for a cross-bat swipe; there was a huge LBW appeal which had most people paused for a second . . . but Aayush had spotted that the ball had deflected off into space and so called for what should have been a pretty comfortable leg bye, but for the fact John had been rather effectively hypnotised by the appeal. In the end he made a dash for the non-striker's end, but by this stage the Romsey 'keeper had gathered the ball and had hurled it towards the stumps, which it would have reached comfortably before John but for the fact that he was in the way. The ball hence bounced off harmlessly and that final extra saw our total tick over to a most satisfactory 141/4.

Daniel Mortlock sends down the first ball of Romsey's innings.

The basic fact of our defense was that we had too many on the board - although that was probably just as well given our near-complete inability to take wickets and our only marginally greater ability to contain runs. Andrew Granville (1/17) was probably the pick of the bowlers early-on, although John Moore (0/21) and Paul Jordan (0/12) both did their part in building up the required run rate. The obvious option for taking wickets was leg spin, but neither Aayush Sonthalia (0/15 off his first over) nor Temoor Khan (0/8) could make a breakthrough either. Despite the biting cold we backed up the bowlers pretty well in the field, with the pleasing sight of multiple players chasing the ball . . . although this was repeatedly admitted to be more a strategy for keeping body temperature up rather than runs down. And, predictably given the conditions, we did drop most of the chances that came our way - the only catch that was actually taken was by Matt Samson, but he had the benefit of wicket-keeping gloves on - with both the team's bowling figures and Dave Williams's finger suffering as a result.

The net result of all this was that Romsey finished the 9th over on 74/1, which would read nicely but for the fact that this meant that they needed 68 run from the remaining 32 balls. This pretty clearly wasn't going to happen; what did happen was an astonishing collapse of 7/6 (yes, 7 wickets for 6 runs, one of the most dramatic collapses in any Remnants match) across three rather dramatic overs: W 1 . W . | 1 W . 2 + . W . . | W 1 W W, at which point the sequence stopped because Romsey had run out of players. The culprits were Aayush, who took 2/4 in his second over, and Daniel Mortlock, who took 5/5, the 8th best Remnants bowling figures of all time. Earlier in the evening Daniel mentioned to one of the batsman that he'd spent the last two decades "bowling straight and having faith that the batsmen will miss one ball in 20", and so was delighted that this evening they missed one ball in four.

The match thus went from bumbling along to being over so suddenly that nobody seemed quite sure what to do - although, with the exception of a few hardy types, the general verdict seemed to be to escape the cold and get home as quickly as possible.