Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Games like today's are why we need match reports. If this match had been played a couple of decades ago all that would be available is the one-line summary that Fen Ditton (135/3 in 20 overs) lost to Remnants (136/0) by 10 wickets. Someone reading this might reasonably assume that Remnants bowled and fielded well, restricting the Fen Ditton batsmen to a mediocre score, before two batsmen chased down the target with ease. What actually transpired was rather different. We pick up the action right from the start:
Saad Shoukat is to open the bowling for Remnants with captain Daniel Mortlock setting him a 6-3 off-side field in expectation of some outswing with the new ball. Everyone's in place . . . until the arrival of two left-handers means everyone's in the wrong place. Some wholesale - and not particularly coherent - field changes and we're ready to begin.
At the other end Naveen Chouksey (1/15) is much more comfortable - it makes sense that a left-hander doesn't mind bowling to them - although some clever tip-and-run batting means that 5 runs come off this over. Given that one of those was a bye which yorked Marcus, the overall sense is that this just isn't going to be our day. Daniel comes onto replace Saad and gets the ball on line, conceding just 2 runs from his first over and giving him "see, that's how it's done" bragging rights . . . until he too starts sending the ball down the leg-side in his second over, inducing a wide call that he effectively requested himself. The next few overs were similarly anarchic as we had repeated bowling changes, endless attempts to get the right field, and generally gave a sense of being an eleven-man rabble who weren't previously aware that it was possible to bat left-handed.
We did finally make a breakthrough when John Young caught a full-blooded pull shot off the bowling of Alec Armstrong (1/38). The arrival of a right-handed number three didn't help as much as we might have hoped, as the unusual difficulty of bowling to two left-handers was now replaced with the more common, but still evidently insurmountable challenge of having to change line and fielding positions every time a single was run (which seemed to be off most balls). After 16 overs Fen Ditton were 127/1 and a surely winning total of 160-170 was on the cards.
But then we got a vital update from the scorers: the surviving opener, Andy Hayward, was on 49, so could at most hope to hit one more boundary before retiring. That (combined with the expectation that it would be right-handers from now on) gave us the chance to bring Saad back on, and suddenly the character of the game changed completely:
Not only had we restricted Fen Ditton to a manageable total, but we also had all the momentum, having restricted them to just 8 runs from the final 4 overs of their innings. That meant we were able to send out our openers, Kaustav Dutta and Richard Rex, with clear instructions to play themselves in, and see out any threatening bowlers if it's not safe to score off them.
Kaustav and Richard implemented this strategy beautifully, although they didn't even have to worry about the second clause - it sooned became clear that Fen Ditton didn't have any threatening bowlers today, and the situation was perhaps summed up by the first ball, which was a wild beamer that reached Kaustav at neck height. That's not to say it was easy to score, as a general lack of pace and low bounce made it difficult for the batsmen swing freely. Indeed, the most common shot throughout the innings was a flat sweep along the ground to deep square leg for a single, something we saw so often it was like deja vu when it happened again and again. In this manner Kaustav and Richard calmly scored at around a run a ball, building an excellent foundation . . .
. . . which, it soon dawned on those of us watching, was rapidly becoming the whole building. Kaustav calmly proceeded to retirement (on 50* off 44 balls), after which Marcus Baker (15* off 14 balls) came in to apply the final licks of paint, leaving Richard as site supervisor on 47* off 57 balls. We thus completed our 16th ten-wicket win, although presumably the only one to which three batsmen contributed. Of course the downside of all 16 such results is that it means some players miss out on the chance to contribute, and this evening John and Claude had to take one for the team. From the team perspective it was not only a great come-from-behind victory, but the first time this year we've won two in a row.