Report by Dave Williams:
You know it's cold when the arrival of the batters at the crease induces an unusually intense but warming burst of hand-clapping. You know it's cold when the opportunity to wear an extra layer makes umpiring seem like a good idea. For sure a little watery sunshine this evening wasn't enough to take the chill off the brisk easterly that ripped in from the Windsor Road end. And so therefrom the toss-winning Sharks attack (please supply your own teeth/biting/shark sporting metaphors here) - in with the wind behind. At the crease the doughty John Young, partnered by Kanwar Singh, watched the first over come and go for a distinctly leaden-legged and stiff-backed 2. For the second over from the Huntingdon Road end, though, Kanwar was rapidly on the back foot for some impressive hand speed through the short-pitched stuff for 17. Some decisive running from the opening pair ultimately brought hubris: John run out for 5 (off 9). Sharks' first and second changes took pace off the ball to induce a top edge from Kanwar, gone for a muscular and aggressive 26 (off 16); I then groped for one that seemed to take ages to arrive, lifting my back foot up for balance and a well-taken stumping (1 off 2). The subsequent regular clatter of Remnants' wickets (Huw Davies 5 off 3, captain Julius Rix 3 off 3, Ben Stone a valuable 14 off 13) was greeted with premium banter ("They're all out" - at one point we were 91 for 6) from a good-humoured Sharks side, but in truth, without ever obviously seeming to dominate, the poised and stylish Quaiser Ahmed at no. 3 was easing each ball on its merits into gaps and helping the Remnants to a near-10 runs an over. Ice-cool running from Quaiser and Alex Armstrong was putting pressure on the Sharks fielders, and Quaiser was now digging deep into his shots locker for a memorable lofted legside hoik on to the roof of the house bilonga Dave's bar and thither on to the street. The ball went (I quote a Sharks fielder) "ping-ping-ping in the channel between the rooves like a marble in a marble run"; it came back with some chunks out of it. Quaiser eventually departed for an impressive 56 off ??, caught deep on the boundary at midwicket. The final-over fireworks didn't quite happen (understatement): Alex (12* off 21) contrived to block five in a row to the close-set off field. A cameo from Andy Owen (0 off 0) consisted entirely of turning down a succession of suicidal non-singles. And so: would - as I habitually posit rhetorically at this point, knowing full well the answer, as do you - the 141 be enough? At the time it looked, in the conditions, like a steep ask.
Here's one for a Remnants "What Happened Next?" (as in the Question of Sport TV show): stand-in keeper Kanwar Singh searches for a helmet and turns up the previously lost club ditto in Dave's lost property; puts it on. Second ball of the innings he gets whacked on the grille by a sharp lifter from opening bowler Ben. What happens next? Er, he discards said helmet. Whatever the principle behind his decision, Kanwar was impressively tidy (just 3 byes) to some nippy stuff from Ben (3 overs, 1 for 13), Huw (3 overs for 18) and particularly Quaiser (2 overs for 6). The Sharks openers looked toothless (LOL), labouring to a leisurely 22 off 5 overs, by which time Ben had satisfyingly got one past the bat to smash into the off peg at just the right point to rip it out of the ground and make it cartwheel. Sharks captain Adam at no. 3 looked dangerous, particularly off Alex (3 overs, 1 wicket for 27), before clubbing one off said left-arm Sultan of Spin to the ever-cool Andy (who must have good blood circulation) for a sharp catch at mid on. In the field Julius covered many yards at rapid speed sweeping; I got a chance to wing some in from the boundary with my rediscovered throwing arm (ahem, the fruit of some off-season fitness efforts). Julius bagged a couple of wickets off his two tidy overs (for 11); Andy, complete with his new minimalist run-up/step-up, Deliveroo'd an artisanal 2 overs for 12. The excitement of Sharks attempting to get 50 off the final over in the chilly gathering gloom was in truth underwhelming, but it was an eloquent testament to an impressively purposeful team ethos in every department of the game.