Report by Daniel Mortlock:
If today's game were to be summed up in a word, it would have to be "ponderous". We (or, strictly, St Barnabas, since they bowled first) didn't send down the first ball 'til 6:20pm; and our innings didn't start until what Faruk insisted was "just after 10 to 8" - the over rate was considerably slower than in international cricket. The match thus ended up running past 9pm, despite the fact we'd gone for 15 eight-ball overs after the late start. Overall there was no damage done - being just a week from the solstice it was still plenty light enough to play - but the overall feel was soporific, even if the cricket itself was reasonably entertaining.
The initial source of drama was Dave Williams. After a largely unenterprising first over in which he blocked out what seemed to be some fairly unremarkable deliveries by the St Barnabas opening bowler, Dave seemed to have been inspired by watching his partner Jeff Beaumont (16 off 17 balls) hit a few big boundaries at the other end, and promptly went beserk in a manner most of us were convinced he'd never done even when he was in his "pomp" in the late '90s. There were huge drives, sharp glances and effortless flicks to leg, the result of which was that a fairly unremarkable 8 off 12 balls became 40 off 28 balls. Having gotten most of the early strike there would have been plenty of time for Dave to push on to his second Remnants century . . . but we'd agreed to play retirement at 40, and so Dave had to be called in. Combined with some rather undisciplined cricket - there were no balls for double-bounces (now illegal after a recent change to the Laws), waist-high full-tosses, and three fielders behind square on the leg-side - we'd raced to 60 after 5 overs, and it was hard not to think of huge totals and massive victories . . .
. . . but St Barnabas came back superbly, combining nippy out-swingers with some excellent fielding. The former saw Tom Serby (4 off 10 balls), Deaglan Bartlett (0 off 2 balls on Remnants debut) and Dave Green (2 off 17 balls) all struggle to score; and the latter included probably the moment of the match, when Tom was called through for what looked a like a sharp but sensible single, only for the mid-off fielder to run in and throw down the striker's wicket with the sort of decisiveness and cat-like grace normally associated with the likes of Ricky Ponting. The middle 5 overs of our innings thus saw just 26 runs scored, and suddenly we had some work to do just to get to triple figures.
This work was eventually done as Matt Samson (48* off 33 balls) smacked some big boundaries despite a broken finger and Daniel Mortlock (16* off 15 balls) made up for his mis-hits with some opportunistic running, the highlight being when he fluffed his shot so badly that he fell over and dropped the bat, thus obliging a mad dash to the far end from a prostrate position. The end result of all this was a decent total of 150/4, although by rights it probably should have been a few runs less, as Matt should have been made to retire with 3 balls remaining, and the hypothetical new batsman probably wouldn't have been able to hit 2 2 1 off St Barnabas's tricky left-arm wrist spinner.
Any questions about whether those few runs were going to be critical were quickly answered by Eli Ellwood (1/8) and Huw Davies (1/14), who saw to it that the required rate quickly climbed above 12 per (eight-ball) over, as well as dismissing both openers. Most of the rest of the innings was, however, dominated by the St Barnabas batsmen: they never seemed likely to win; but it was clear they were in the ascendancy. Indeed, both their number 3 and 4 made it to retirement, and their number 7 had hit 30 off 25 balls before being somewhat controversially given out caught behind (while everyone heard a bat-like noise, he clearly wasn't convinced he'd hit the ball). Fortunately, none of the other St Barnabas batsmen scored any runs at all, the rest of their card being made up of five ducks. Aside from Eli and Huw, some players with longer first names also got wickets, Dan Mortlock (2/24), Fak Kara (1/22) and Rik Rex (1/32) all making breakthroughs. The real star of our fielding effort, however, was not a bowler, but stand-in 'keeper Deaglan Bartlett. Despite never having previously kept wicket, he took two sharp catches standing up and made a number of great leg-side takes - as well as being clunked in the box by one of several terrible throws. Indeed, about the only area of the game where we let ourselves down this evening was in the field, with lots of fumbles, mis-fields and just plain misses. The worst effort was an all-Australian affair, when Daniel at point had a fairly gently hit cut bobble past him and then Matt, running at full speed but protecting his injured finger, made a spectacular slide that managed only to knock the nearly stopped ball across the boundary. Fortunately those few extra runs (and the half dozen similar cases elsewhere in the innings) didn't matter in the end, and our final 15-run victory felt like a pretty fair result.
Sadly there wasn't much of a post-match discussion as most people had to rush off to get ready for work in the morning - and St Barnabas didn't continue their recent and popular "pizza at the ground" tradition. Maybe next time . . .