Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The conditions last Tuesday were so lovely that nobody could stand to see the season end that week, and so this evening's match against NCI was hastily arranged. Never mind that the forecast was awful and that the opposition was struggling for numbers - "I picked up another player last night so have 10" quickly turned into "Seems we are a couple more down but will keep fingers crossed" - because sheer force of will was going to see to it that we'd get one more evening game in for the season. There was a bit of rain in the morning, but Dave gave the green light with "pitch will be fit to play later" and so we converged at Fitz for the 29th time this year. The fact that NCI were a couple short was balanced by the fact that we were one, er, long, and so Nathan Wright graciously appeared in NCI colours (burgundy and pale blue - not a good look).
We settled on 12 eight-ball overs - we once again missed a trick by spurning the chance to host the country's first game of "cricket 100" or whatever it's called - and Remnants fielded first by agreement, and so we set about doing good things with the orange rock- er, sorry ball. Sadly, we did just the opposite. Our bowling wasn't too bad - and, in particular, Seth Aycock (0/12 sent down a 2-over mini-spell of fantastic out-swingers) - but otherwise we were simply appalling. Yes, the oranger rock- er, ball is harder to control than it's red counterpart, but there's a limit to how much that can be blamed for the sequence of mis-fields, misses, dropped catches, overthrows, underthrows, etc., etc., with which we filled the first few overs of the game. This even began to infect the basic act of lobbing the ball back to the bowlers, who ended up having to spend precious time (or, really, light) retrieving it from the no-man's land behind the umpire. It would have been embarrassing but for the fact that the overall vibe of the game was so relaxed that it was primarily a source of amusement for both teams . . . which is actually embarrassing in itself.
It was hence no surprise that both NCI openers waltzed to retirement (at 30) after taking their side to 65/0 from 7 overs. It was at about this stage that Remnants debut player Andrew Celsus (1/15) came on to bowl his first over for the club, at which point everything changed: after a few well-directed deliveries that the batsman couldn't get away, the pressure got to him and he went for a big cross-bat swipe that was (especially given the previous goings-on) superbly caught by Seth on the square boundary. And suddenly the runs dried up and the wickets started flowing. Faruk (2/16) took two wickets in the penultimate over, and found himself on a hat trick after Nathan bunted his first ball straight to John Young at cover (although Nathan noted afterwards that it wasn't "straight", the ball curving in the air to the degree that it started out heading to John's right but finished up on his left); but, as is so often the way, the hat-trick ball was rubbish. And we took three more wickets in the final over: Sam Thomas effected a superbly sharp run out with the help of stand-in 'keeper Ferdi Rex; and Daniel Mortlock (2/12) was fortunate that two lofted "end of innings" slogs went to Richard Rex and, er, himself.
Our pursuit of NCI's total of 101 began superbly, as Richard Rex and James Crozier smacked 18 runs off a rather erratic first over. Things then calmed down a bit, as we trundled along at about the same pace that NCI had earlier in the day, until some uncertain calling led to James being run out (for 16 off 19 balls). Ferdi Rex then joined his father for a "Luke 'n' Darth"-style partnership that actually ended up being more "Darth and Obi Wan", as it was clearly only Ferdi who could claim that "Your powers are weak old man; now I am the master." After scratching around for 4 dots, the rest of Ferdi's innings (of 31* retired off 14 balls) was 2 . 1 4 4 4 2LB 6 4 6 as he raced past Richard, who scored just 2 singles during in their brief 35-run union.
With the score now 84/1 after 8 overs we could surely coast home, with just 18 runs needed from 32 balls. The fact that there was now intermittent light rain would surely at worst delay our 17th victory of the year. But rather than just coasting, we stalled: Richard scored just 2 from his last 9 deliveries before being run out (for 29 off 26 balls) and then new batsmen Sam Thomas and John Young both struggled to do more than defend (or miss) some cagey bowling. The equation was now a much less comfortable 13 needed off 16 balls at the start of the penultimate over:
And, with that, what we all experienced as a tight match will soon be remembered only as what looks like a comfortable Remnants win. It was also an important one, as these things go, because it means we're guaranteed to be up for the season - if we'd lost it would have been 16-all in external games with everything then riding on Sunday's match at Grantchester. As it was, we got to relax with the NCI players, happy in the knowledge that, despite the showers, we got one more fun evening game in for the season (the first in club history in which every scheduled evening game went ahead - there wasn't a single wash-out).