Report by Daniel Mortlock:
After the best part of four decades playing cricket in Cambridge - or at least Cambridgeshire - Remnants finally played a genuinely "away" match today, eleven of us making the trip west to the Cotswolds village of Blockley (potentially familiar as the filming location for Father Brown). The reason for making the journey was to take on Fathers And Sprogs in their home territory - after we'd beaten them comfortably the last few times they'd played us in Cambridge they conceded that they simply don't have the necessary local connections any more, and so weren't going to manage the traditional pre-tour fixture this year. Not to be denied, we set about putting together our own touring side to mount the cricketing equivalent of a "smash-and-grab" raid at their nominal home ground of Blockley (which even has a Joe White End). Initially, this worthy endeavour seemed destined to be unsuccessful for the very simple reason that the first club-wide e-mail about this generated only two meaningful replies: one was from the nominally-retired Phil Watson offering to score or maybe be twelfth man; and one was from Amit Kumar who pointed out that the proposed date of Sunday, July 14, was the day of the World Cup final. That really should have killed things off, but the idea refused to die, and in the end a genuine Remnants eleven was assembled that represented various different aspects of the club's history: the starting point was Remnants veterans Rob Harvey, Faruk Kara, Daniel Mortlock and Joe White who also play every year for FAS and so were going to be on tour as a matter of course; we then got an injection from the 2019 vintage with Cambridge St Giles players Pete Ames, Chris Badger, Aatish Maharaj and Will Phelps all signing up; and then the icing on the cake was in the form of Andy Bell, Colette Bell and Phil Watson, all coming out of effective Remnants retirement. (We almost got Colette's sister Lauren, who has her own CricInfo page, but she'd been selected to play against the touring Australian women's team.) A few days before it was clear that the weather would be fine and also that England had made the final, and thankfully everyone opted to play cricket rather than watch it (although it was pretty useful to find out that the Blockley clubhouse has a TV and that the game would be broadcast on Channel 4, not just Sky).
We won the toss and chose to bowl, in part because the wicket looked quite green, but mainly because that meant at least some of us would be able to watch the conclusion of final (and the Wimbledon men's final, for that matter). The decision was vindicated initially by our killer opening attack of Joe White (0/37) and Aatish Maharaj (3/28), who were both economical and incisive - even if Aatish's first wicket was that of the youngest member of the Dare family (which founded FAS) playing his first game of cricket. From there we managed a pretty steady ascendancy, as Daniel Mortlock (1/26) and Colette Bell (0/31) were even more economical than the openers - even if they were able to get just the one wicket between them. This was remedied when Phil Watson took the ball and reluctantly - or perhaps uncertainly - marked out his run up, with two quality cricketers (Houlder brothers James and Harry) in together. James, who'd seen Phil bowl previously, gave Harry very precise instructions to play the ball on line and to avoid being lured out of his crease; so he was of course stumped by 'keeper Will Phelps off his second ball. A second batsman, James and Harry's young nephew Aaron, soon perished in the same way, and Phil finished his return game with figures of 2/21 (and a well-held catch). From a nadir of 82/7 FAS recovered to a respectable total of 180/8, but given our batting line-up - and the fact that some of FAS's better bowlers were playing for us - we felt confident that we had the game in our hands.
That sense was borne out as Andy Bell (26 off 42 balls) and Chris Badger (21 off 51 balls) put on a 64-run opening partnership that was broken only when Andy was given out LBW despite having gotten an inside edge (something which several of the fielders had spotted, although it didn't induce a withdrawal of the appeal). When Chris was also dismissed soon afterwards there was some possibility of a collapse, but Pete Ames and Will Phelps then steadied the ship, with the emphasis on steady, as Will scored just 5 singles from his first 17 deliveries and Pete the same number of runs from his first 30 deliveries. Indeed, we would have fallen well behind the required rate were it not for the kind donation of an eventual 39 wides by the FAS bowlers. We'd scored more than half of our target at the mid-innings drinks break, and with plenty of time to finish the game we headed into the clubhouse to see what was happening in the World Cup final . . .
. . . which was anything but relaxed, with England needing 39 from the last 4 overs of their chase. We almost made the mistake of going back out at the end of our drinks break, but after a quick conversation between the captains it was agreed we'd watch the last 20 minutes of the match . . . which of course turned into an hour of cricketing mayhem with fielders standing on the rope, four overthrows off the bat, allowing England to tie after needing 15 off 4 balls, and then a super-over which was also a tie, meaning England had the World Cup for the absurd reason that they'd scored more boundaries in the final. Add in the five-hour Djokovic vs. Federer Wimbledon final happening at the same time, and it was a remarkable afternoon's sport . . .
. . . which we couldn't hope to replicate. Our match proceeded to the most anodyne of conclusions as Pete (12 off 40 balls), Will (49* off 45 balls) and Aatish (14* off 16 balls) romped to victory off some rather half-hearted bowling and lacklustre fielding.
After that it was back to FAS headquarters, Mill Dene, for some cold beers, a Sunday roast, and endless re-viewings of the highlights from the World Cup final (and, rather less pleasurably, the preceding England vs. Australia semi-final).