Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Organising things used to be difficult but simple; now it's easy but complicated. Back in the day you invited someone to an event a few weeks or months beforehand; if they could make it they'd say "yes" and put it in their diary; and then, barring medical emergencies, they would appear at roughly the agreed-on time and place. It was simple because the process was so clear-cut, in part because it was so difficult to get in touch with someone to make last-minute changes to the plan. Now there are endless options for getting in contacting someone (well except, critically, Geoff), which means that organisation has become easy . . . but also more complicated, as people increasingly expect re-confirmations, and seem to think that a nominally firm arrangement becomes soft and eventually melts away over time unless re-solidified by various "such-and-such is still on" messages.
All of which brings us to today's game. At the start of the week Geoff's President's XI was actually a XIII, and so Remnants, fearing some sort of arms race, had named a XII with V potential reinforcements on the "also available" list. Needless to say, the situation had changed somewhat by Tuesday afternoon. Remnants was "steady as she goes" at XII, but only by virtue of calling on IV of the V reserves; and The President's XI had become a IX. This should have resulted in some horse-trading to make it XI vs. X, but the pressure of the early sunset led to a rushed start with the possibility that Geoff's side would be bolstered by some late arrivals; when it wasn't we ended up with a rather strange XII vs. IX game, with Remnants fielding first by agreement.
The President's batting line-up was a study in contrasts, ranging from the club's two strongest batsmen in Dave Norman and Matt Samson (both with current career averages of 70+) to John Young's 12-year-old son Lewis, playing his first ever game of hard ball cricket. By contrast, Remnants had a pretty balanced side, representative of those which have seen us break even for the season. It was hence pretty clear the nature of the game - and probably the result - would be decided by how well the Remnants bowlers did against Matt and Dave. We didn't have to wait long to find out as Matt took strike against Tom Davidson, probably the fastest bowler in the club, for the day's first heavyweight battle: the early points went to Tom as he snuck some in-swingers past Matt's bat and into his pads; Matt then landed the first material blow with a beautifully punched off drive that scooted to the boundary; and then Tom scored a knock-out punch, bowling Matt for a decidedly unfulfilled 4 off 6 balls.
Tom (1/6 off 3 overs) and Daniel Mortlock (1/7 off his first 2 overs) consolidated Remnants' early dominance, although Daniel's wicket brought Dave to the crease and so took the game to its second critical moment . . . which actually turned into a bit of a damp squib, as Dave was uncharacteristically scratchy - 23 of the 26 balls he faced were just dots or singles - and it was surprisingly unsurprising when he mistimed a drive off Paul Jordan (1/10 off 2 overs) straight to Seth Aycock at long off. Seth (0/14 off 2 overs) also bowled well, and with slower bowlers John Moore (0/20 off 2 overs) and Nick Johnson (0/24 off 2 overs) also effective, the President's XI had just 85 runs on the board after the 13th of their 14 (eight-ball) overs.
One option would have been to put on a non-bowler to "make a game of it", but Daniel was having none of this, and instead brought himself back on for what turned out to be the most eventful over of the day:
Defending 91 with just 9 players seemed a bit hopeless, and even the addition of Daniel and Tom to Geoff's fielding side seemed unlikely to sway things. But the early efforts of the President's XI bowlers if anything eclipsed those of Remnants earlier in the day, as Joe White (1/6 off 3 overs), Faruk Kara (1/14 off his first 2 overs) and Richie Young (0/12 off his first 2 overs) kept the scoring to an absolute minimum. After 5 overs Remnants was just 20/2, and now needed to score at exactly a run a ball with the Sun already nudging the horizon.
Still, Remnants have strength in depth, and while wickets keep coming, largely through the efforts of John Picton (3/13) and Matt Samson, who too three outfield catches, so do the runs. James Crozier (16 off 22 balls), Dave Williams (25 off 16 balls) and Julius Rix (14 off 9 balls, including a huge tile-smashing six) all make vital contributions, although the steady flow of wickets meant that it was probably a 50/50 game with Remnants on 76/8 (i.e., 16 needed with just 2 wickets in hand). We were all set for an exciting finish but then Seth Aycock (17* off 10 balls, playing one of his specialty "get us over the line" innings) and Paul Jordan (9* off 3 balls) knocked off the remaining runs with no fuss whatsoever.
Far more important than the result, though, was that we managed the miracle of a truly enjoyable late-August game - it was warm, sunny and we finished well before light was an issue. One final evening game was promptly organised for next Wednesday - let's hope that we get one more glorious day to cap this most remarkable of summers.