Report by Daniel Mortlock:
While not strictly a new opposition, Lidgate & Ousden were certainly an unknown quantity. We have actually played them once, last year, but nobody wrote a match report, so we can't say much other than Remnants won a high-scoring game. Certainly it was clear that none of our players this evening had any clue about the opposition: someone thought they might be a legal firm; this was quickly rejected in favour of them being architects; whereas, instead, Lidgate and Ousden are villages somewhere in the vicinity of Newmarket (in much the same way Ford Prefect is from a planet "somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse"). With strong ties to the horse-racing world many of their players have to work on Saturdays, so they only play friendlies; but they do with a decidedly chirpy league attititude - they were anything but chill tonight, especially when appealing.
That said, when their captain won the toss he clearly wanted to bat, but took pity on our tardiness, opting instead to field so that we could get our eleven together - which we did about 30 seconds later, as if our last three players had been waiting around the corner in an elaborate ploy to bat first. We certainly started in the ideal fashion, Pete Ames effortlessly late-cutting the first three balls of the game for 4, 2 and 1; of course in the pavilion we all joked that he'd have to score 0.5 off his next ball, which he kind of did, both he and fellow opener Kaustav Dutta running half-way up the pitch before deciding to turn back. But there's only one way to extend a sequence of 4 2 1 . and, sure enough, Pete was bowled next ball (for 7 off 5 balls).
If that wasn't an eventful enough over to start with, things were even more dramatic at the other end where Lidgate's young left-armer sent down a series of leg-side wides to new batsman Cam Petrie before producing the perfect in-swinger to castle him (for 1 off 3 balls). The bowler's father had arrived to see this, announcing "That's my boy!" when his son finally got it right, and then again next ball when Richard Rex (0 off 1 ball) got through his shot early and bunted an easy catch to the square-leg fielder. It was a classic demonstration that at our level of cricket - and even in the professional game, for that matter - that the most deadly delivery isn't the peach delivered by someone regularly landing it on the spot, but when it comes out of the blue. Not that the excitement ended here, as looking from the pavilion we'd also noticed that the bowler had a dubious action, some of effort balls looking more like throws. In his third over Richard, now umpiring, no balled him for chucking, which drew the response from the Lidgate captain that he'd been "cleared by the league" - although he also later admitted that he thinks his bowler chucks sometimes.
Anyway, none of this could distract from the fact that our nominally strong top order weren't batting very well - four of the top five were bowled, and of those only Kaustav (17 off 22 balls) made it into double figures. From 49/4 after 7 of our 15 (eight-ball) overs we made something of a comeback as Julius Rix (25 off 27 balls), Daniel Mortlock (18 off 19 balls, before being run out by a direct hit after practicing what he preaches about calculated risks and the rarity of direct hits) and Eli Ellwood (18* off 18 balls) all made valuable contributions. With John Moore (4* off 3 balls) finishing us off with a massive boundary we at least got ourselves above a run a ball, which represented quite a comeback . . .
. . . and which we continued when we began our defense. Daniel Mortlock (0/11) conceded just 3 runs from his first over, and then Eli Ellwood (1/27) went one better, having the Lidgate captain well caught by Pete "I gave myself a 10% chance of holding that!" Ames. Lidgate should have ended their second over on 6/1, but for hopelessly lazy fielding "effort" by Daniel that turned a one into a four. And, sadly, that turned into a case of leading by example, as our fielding from then on was woeful: there were endless fumbles (after most of which the batsmen cleverly nicked an extra run); lack of communication when multiple fielders could get to the ball; and several dropped catches (none as difficult as Pete's had been). There was plenty of good work, too, with Tom Serby denying his knee injury to make several sharp stops close in, Kaustav Dutta covering lots of ground on the boundary; and Andrew Celsus energetic and aggressive, several times saving runs by coming in at full-tilt to meet the ball. Probably his best effort was when a leg-side ball got past 'keeper Cam Petrie and Andrew chased it down with such speed that the batsman was only half-way through his second run when Andrew's return reached Cam, who gathered the ball and whipped off the bails . . . so delicately that they stayed on - and because he'd felt his gloves touch the stumps he also didn't realise that the wicket was intact until it was, finally, too late.
But more fundamentally for us it was a case of too little: we just didn't have enough runs on the board to defend with anything other than a "top notch" performance in the field; whereas we'd managed something more "bottom notch" (which sounds about as unpleasant as it shoud). Even after our better overs a glance at the scoreboard was, at least when it had been updated, enough to confirm that Lidgate were always just that little bit ahead. Despite good bowling by Kaustav (0/31), Alec (not Alex) Armstrong (0/16), Andrew Celsus (not Celsius) (0/32), it was no surprise that we weren't even able to take the game to the final over, Lidgate's surviving opener finishing things off with a dismissive six into the high netting.