Report by Dave Williams:
Under trippily cobalt-azure skies the silhouette of the biscuity-brown stumps against the glowing green concentric circles of the Fitzwilliam sward was a giddy feast for the eyes of Team Remnants - and our long-time nemesis, Sharks.
In the first old-school format of the summer (20 overs, 6 balls an over, and no compulsory retirements either) captain Julius Rix won the toss and chose to bat. Seven out of the side, including new players Adi Jain and Deaglan Bartlett, were distinctly young and athletic - two adjectives, in truth, not usually associated with our club. In a foretaste of bold decisions to come, your very own wizened correspondent was sent out to open with Adi. A glut of wides made it difficult to lay bat on ball, hence - that's my excuse - some panicky/bizarre running from me, including a call for one that went straight to the fielder at cover. My thought, I promise you, was that because she was wearing a white jumper and black trousers she must be the umpire. "But", I hear you say, "umpires don't stand at cover." Yes - but the power of self-deception conquers all. After 17 balls of faffing about I prodded one into the point boundary on the Sherlock Road side of the ground, which was in shadow. I couldn't see the ball and called for over-optimistic second that produced an accurate throw and my run-out (for 14). John Young was next man in - cue John's forward prodding and high-backlift forcing drives against the Shark purveyors of dibbly-dobblies. John's run-out (8 off 12) was at Adi's behest - maybe he thought chez Remnants that bad calling was obligatory. By the end of the tenth over we were two wickets down with 56 on the board - solid but hardly intimidating. Chris Badger at number 4 brought some valuable intensity to the crease as he and Adi moved through the gears, often forcing through mid-on and mid-off horizontal-bat stylee. The calling and running stabilised and accelerated, turning ones into twos and twos into threes. The second half of our innings added a further 84, leaving Adi with a fine 61* off 60 and Chris an important 37* off 31. A thumping 13 wides - with Geoff umpiring, these were not one-day wides - helped bring us up to a decent 140 total.
Naveen Chouksey opened from the Huntingdon Road end. With his unusual hopscotch runup Naveen's slingy left-armers came through at good pace with fine control to great effect: an opening maiden and eventually a wicket - a fine caught behind from stand-in glovesman Tom Davidson (an unusual choice, but he did well). Naveen's four overs went for an impressively miserly 10. At the other end Deaglan Bartlett served up one of the most impressive Remnants debuts I have had the pleasure to see. Deaglan has a rhythmical run-up; his classical side-on right-armer's action with rapid body rotation catapults the ball at significant pace towards, in this case, some smashed stumps and a succession of departing batsmen. Such was the speed that Richard Rex, at a slightly wide fine leg on the boundary, sprinted but failed to stop a four byes that was still hurtling as it crossed the (uphill) boundary and ended up in the middle of the massed footballers. Tom took another fine catch (with a noticeably loud thunky plop as the ball hit the gloves) standing 20 yards behind the stumps. Deaglan's final figures were four overs, 3 for 18; as a result, after the 8 overs of our opening pair Sharks were 34 for 4. Where - as the bellhop famously asked George Best when he brought the champagne into Best's hotel room and saw Miss World in Best's bed and £20,000 in cash on the side table - did it all go wrong?
Apart from Richard Rex's loopy lobs not being quite so mesmeric today - they were carted all over the park during Richard's two overs for 32 - things seemed almost under control. Qaiser Ahmed kept things tidy with his three pacy overs for 16, and Julius (during his three overs, 1 for 19) removed the dangerous Shark no. 4 when the fifth-wicket pair were one short of their century stand. In the fading light Deaglan and Tom swapped bowling and wicketkeeping duties for Tom to send down some gentle offies; Tom's faster one (understatement) got him a clean bowled from his two overs for 16. With two overs to go, 16 runs were still needed - tight, but surely defendable; the question for Julius was who to get to do the defending. In the end he chose Adi - despite the fact he'd never before bowled for Remnants, it's usaully a pretty solid rule that classy batsmen can bowl pretty well (and vice versa). But the gamble didn't pay off today as Adi seemed to hurt his shoulder early in his over, after which a few big boundaries saw Sharks home without the need for Julius to choose a bowler for the final over.
Commiserations and respect to Adi for stepping up in a difficult situation, but a frustrating loss all the same.