Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Given that Remnants was (partly) spawned from The Cavendish Laboratory, this ought to be the closest thing we have to a genuine grudge match, a bit like an international game between a once great power and its former colony. We certainly had some hard-fought matches in the noughties, last playing them in 2010; but after that our regular fixtues just . . . stopped. There's nothing in the old match reports to suggest any sort of falling out, and the usual explanation for a cessation of a regular fixture - that the organiser of the opposition team has moved on - is inconsistent with the lack of any unanswered or bounced e-mails. So it was most fortuitous when Ateeq Nasir, one of The Cavendish organisers, e-mailed out of the blue back in March and we were able to organise tonight's fixture.
It was also nice to be back at Churchill College, a venue Remnants hasn't played at since 2014. Arriving at the ground this evening after a season spent almost entirely at Fitz with its well-defined borders, the ground seemed impossibly large, like the MCG without the stands - a proposition that can now, in the age of Google Maps, be objectively assessed:
As so often this year we had a side that was longer and stronger on bowling than batting, and so it was actually quite convenient that, upon losing the toss, we were asked to field first. We opened up with our two quickest bowlers, Tom Hinch (1/16) and Saad Shoukat (0/4), who both enjoyed the fastest wicket of the season. They were basically too good for The Cavendish's top order, repeatedly beating the batsmen for pace and movement. Tom induced the only genuine edge, which had crossed the boundary by the time first slip poked up his hand to the approximate point the ball had passed; but Tom then held onto a spiralling top edge, having decisively called off a terrified-looking Simon Godsill at mid-wicket. The irony was, however, that the pace off the bat, combined with some rather over-zealous wide calls, meant that Tom ended up being comfortably the most expensive bowler of the day on either side - and, remarkably, the only one of the day's dozen bowlers to go for more than a run a ball.
We hence decided to take slow things down, which was implausibly successful as change bowlers Alec Armstrong (3/13) and Andrew Celsus (1/20) tore the heart out of the Cavendish line-up. At 27/5 we might have been able to dream of breaking various club records, as evidenced by the hyper-aggressive field we set for Alec's (unsuccessful) hat-trick ball . . .
. . . but The Cavendish's sixth wicket pair knuckled down so effectively that they stayed together to the end of the innings. Daniel Mortlock (0/16) and Naveen Chouksey (0/23) bowled well, if unluckily, as we started dropping catches, Naveen being particularly unlucky to see three skiers go to ground in one over. Our ground fielding, however, remained excellent, as Simon, Tom and Richard Rex made a near impenetrable cover ring that largely stopped The Cavendish's number seven, J. Secker (34* off 41 balls), scoring with his preferred cover drives. The Cavendish's final total of 93/5 represented a pretty good comeback, although these days there aren't too many 20-over games that are won with targets in double figures.
Our chase was a pretty steady affair, as openers Qaiser Ahmed and Simon Godsill correctly assessed that the bowlers were going to offer up at least one four ball per over. They systematically scored at more than the required rate while avoiding any unnecessary risks, although their approach to second and third runs perhaps went a little too far in this direction - even though there wasn't any particular scoreboard pressure, it was maddening for the rest of us to see the two batsman hovering uncertainly in their creases while a fielder some 50 or 60 metres away was still in the process of picking up the ball. Still, by the time the score had reached 73/0 after 12 overs Qaiser and Simon looked odds-on to complete our third ten-wicket victory of the season - and they might have if the umpires had stayed the course; but the third ball after the first swap-over Simon hit a return catch back to the bowler to be out for a solid 25 off 44 balls. A few overs later Qaiser's sixth boundary took him too a well-earned retirement on 51* off 40 balls, and us to 87/1 after 14 overs. That meant we needed just 7 runs from 36 balls with 9 wickets in hand, and so the lower order batsmen had already started changing out of their whites, safe in the knowledge that the game would be done in an over or two . . .
. . . but instead we just stopped. There was no realistic chance of failing to complete the win - even against Lillee and Thomson we'd have probably managed to the get the runs in edges - but it was quite a surreal phase transition. New batsmen John Young and Richard Rex were suddenly unable to pierce the tight ring field that The Cavendish had set, and the previously erratic bowlers found McGrath-like accuracy, while the fielders suddenly went from fielding primarily using their feet to acting like a bunch of Jonty Rhodes clones. Added to this there was some even more esoteric running, John going for aggressive movement but no call (i.e., running half-way up the pitch for a perfectly legitimate leg-bye without ever indicating to his partner that he was on the move) and Richard complementing this with aggressive calling but no movement at all (i.e., a decisive "No!" when it was his partner's call and a fairly comfortable run). The full read out of the rest of the innings was: . 1 + . . . . | . . . . . 2 | LB . . . . . | . LB . . . . | . 1, which does include the 7 required runs (and no wickets) but occupied 26 of the 36 available deliveries, resulting in an absurd amount of team stress given our dominant position. Still, in a season where we're still comfortably in the red, any victory is a good one, and on that score John (3* off 15 balls) and Richard (1* off 14 balls) had definitely completed their assigned task.
By this stage it was almost 9pm and the mosquitoes were out in force, so most people scurried home rather than going to the Churchill bar; but it was a fun game, and great to be reunited with our alma mater, so hopefully the planned return fixture goes ahead.