Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Just as was the case yesterday, our greatest achievement today was getting a game. The ARM management and various of our own players sent plenty of gentle enquiries about whether the fixture would be going ahead, although the underlying message was always the same: surely you can't seriously think we'll be playing? And yet that's just what we did, with Fitz bathed in sunshine for the most part and the wicket once again playing true.
The was also the lesser miracle that we put out a full eleven, a fact which can largely be traced back to Matt "The Messiah" Samson, who in the end contributed precisely one third of today's side. The more mathematically atuned - or just plain pedantic - of you might at this point object that you can't have a third of an eleven, and you'd be right. But you can have a third of a twelve and, thanks to the confusing flurry of Facebook messages and e-mails, that's what we ended up with. Indeed, it could have been a thirteen after Matt's University game was cancelled, but in the end he endured the tragedy of sitting at home doing nothing while the players he'd acquired ran around in the afternoon sun.
Which is what, after losing the toss again, we were obliged to do. Initially, at least, we did this rather well as Ben Stone (1/14 on Remnants debut), Daniel Mortlock (0/6, and not quite on debut) and Kaustav Dutta (0/15, again on debut) combined to restrict ARM to just 36/1 off their first 6 (eight-ball overs). The clear star here was Ben, who sent down three overs of out-swingers at good pace, with the result that we moved more and more fielders into the off-side cordon; for the final ball of his spell we had a nine-man slips cordon (something even Ben's brother Olly mightn't have earned on his way to taking 8/80 for Warwickshire against Sussex a few weeks ago).
Things slipped a little after that as ARM tripled their total in the second half of their innings. Faruk Kara (1/19), Seth Aycock (1/22), Alec Armstrong (2/21) and Nathan Wright (1/8) all got wickets, but the runs - and particularly the boundaries - came more often than we'd have liked. ARM's final total of 109/7 might have looked like the bowling side had won the day; but with the sun setting and the grass getting dewy it was far from clear that would be the final result.
Initially, our pursuit of ARM's total was a study of contrasts, as Temoor Khan picked up from where he left off last night, caressing several effortless boundaries, while John Young looked solid but struggled to get the ball off the square. Temoor seemed set to reach the retirement score of 25 before John got off the mark, and would have but for the fact that John was bowled (for 0 off 12 balls) one delivery before Temoor was called in on 26* off 18 balls. Still, the net result of these contrasting innings is that we were doing okay . . . until ARM wrested control of the match during the middle third of our innings, primarily through some superb swing bowling by their captain Adnan Khan, who took 3/10 from his 3 (eight-ball) overs. Only Chris Badger (10 off 16 balls) made it to double figures during this phase of the game, and after 9 overs we were in big trouble at 53/4, with 57 more runs needed from just 32 balls.
Kaustav Dutta and Kanwar Singh (also on Remnants debut) survived Adnan's spell, but the fact that they were both 3* off 10 balls at this stage shows how difficult it was to score. And even if they maybe hadn't properly played themselves in, they were still in, and that meant a chance to have one final crack at the target against new bowlers. A couple of boundaries and a few well-run twos - every time it looked like they might be in trouble the throw from the outer was off line or the take was fumbled - meant that we were still a technical chance, and we found ourselves needing 19 runs from the last 8 balls:
We all streamed onto the field to congratulate our new heroes and sympathise with the ARM players - we know the pain of a final ball loss, Remnants having suffered that fate on 18 occasions - and then retire to the bar. An obvious potential topic of discussion was who should be the player of the match, with plenty of candidates in such an even contest. Either of the retired batsmen (Ankit? for ARM; Temoor for us) would be a candidate, although the retirement rule effectively nullifies the chance of batsmen dominating the game - no bad thing, given how often player of the match award in limited overs cricket simply goes to the batsman who made the highest score. Ben's opening spell for us was great and put us in an early ascendancy, although it would be hard to argue that it was better than Adnan's spell that all but won the game for ARM. The "all but" is critical, however, and the result ended up being decided by our middle order trio of Kaustav, Kanwar and Seth. At which point a pattern starts to emerge: Ben, Kaustav, Kanwar and Seth's efforts meant that Remnants first-timers dominated the game, taking 2/51 from 7 overs and then scoring 56 off 41 balls for once out, to say nothing of a catch and stumping. And, since they were all recruited in the same way, you've presumably now worked out that the non-existent player of the match award clearly has to go to Matt Samson, even though he never even made it to the ground.