Report by Dave Williams:
As the dog day evenings of this summer's scorching June and July give way to cool presages of autumn, the mighty Remnants trotted out yet once more, this time in mortal combat with the Sharks, to see who would be top of the metaphorical food chain.
A standard green cricketing base layer had been restored for the evening courtesy some downpours that had, according to Dave Norman, threatened this year's first weather-related cancellation. The only discord among the colours of a John Constable painting was the dayglo pink ball, currently (and sensibly) finding favour as the evenings draw in. Bright sunshine between puffy clouds looking like Madagascar seemed ideal conditions.
Captain Matt Samson started with Paul Jordan from the Windsor Road end. A gentle but noticeable breeze may have made a difference to Paul finding his rhythm, but the Shark opener gorged on the half-trackers and full bungers for 4 fours on the trot, plus a 2 and a wide. 20 on the board after one over was not the plan - Mike Tyson could have been describing our game when he said "Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Joe White at the other end has never been easy to score off, but his first went for "only" 17. The third over: cometh the hour, cometh Alec Armstrong: Alec's pace-off variations and excellent control of length first staunched the haemorrhaging then induced the classic red-mist moment where the batsman plays a shot in their mind but the ball happens to be in a different place - in this case making a gentle "clink", like the sound of a breaking Rich Tea biscuit, against the stumps. Only three runs off Alec's first - and a total of 6 off Alec's three, coupled with, eventually, two wickets - was an outstanding display of the slow bowler's art. Joe reined them back at the other end; the other opener tried one drive too many and launched one up 80 feet in the air. Joe bellowed a Force 8 "Mine!" and smartly pouched a reverse hands (Aussie-style) take under his chin. Later that over Joe smashed through the batter's timid prod with one that satisfyingly pinged off the top of the off stump over keeper Everton Fox's head.
After two overs from Joe, Paul came back on; clearly it was not a good day for him, going for 4 fours off his first four balls before ending with the figures of (look away now) two overs, 0 for 42. Tom Davidson impressed with a bowled first ball and a tidy spell with good pace (3 overs, 1 for 23). John Moore, with no visible signs of mishap from last week bar a markedly increased interest in batting helmets, stepped up to the oche for a trundle; two boundaries off his first two were what modern parents would call "disappointing" - though of course past performance is no guide to the future, and the rest of the over ended calmly. John winkled a plum lbw in his second, though in the frantic concluding stages we were shipping quite a few. John was not helped by occasional sloppy fielding (I was one who failed to get a hand on one) and finished with 3 overs, 1 for 43. Sam Thomas managed a very tidy penultimate over for 7 runs, and Joe's final over of the Sharks innings went for merely 4 (three overs, 2 for 26). We had hauled them back to 150; the outfield was no longer as fast as last week, but this looked gettable.
Ev Fox and I would have reprised our club record opening partnership of 170*, but we couldn't; I was caught for 5 off 11. Ev was a bit scratchy for his 12 (off 19); Stephen Bidwell tried hard but couldn't quite dominate (12 off 13) against decent Sharks bowling that included two maidens for overs 4 and 9. In truth by over 9 with only 53 on the board we were well behind any reasonable asking rate, and even the ever-dynamic Matt couldn't inject enough cricketing metamphetamine into the collective veins of team Remnants. Matt's incisive foot movement and front-foot driving were especially notable against Shark's fast-bowler "Wilson". Pete Ames ran hard and selflessly for his 10 off 16, as did Sam Thomas, who impressed both with his tactical grasp of the need to get Matt on strike and his hard hitting (4 off 3). Aggressive straight striking (with golf-style wristy whippiness) from Tom Davidson (22* off 15) looked, briefly and excitingly, as if it might help us swing the impossible to the merely unlikely. Matt had to retire on 42*; Joe White whacked a lusty 9* off four balls, but even he and Tom couldn't summon 37 off the last over, even with the help of two wides. Good try.
Wishing Ev and family bon voyage back to Doha; inshallah see you again next year. And many thanks to Russ for thoughtful, clear and accurate scoring.
Don't forget that the Remnants vs President's XI on Tuesday next week concludes with a trip to the Tandoori Palace on Histon Road . . .