Report by Joe White:
On the fresh but sunny evening, the remnants cricket season finally arrived. The initial signs were good in that the weather was set fair and the temperature was pleasant as opposed to the occasionally dreadful conditions we have played our first fixture in over the years. I still remember the game a couple of years ago that started at a temperature of 5 degrees and steadily got colder, leaving several involved emotionally scarred and never to be heard from again. Remnants also had a full compliment of players both available and present at the ground well ahead of the start of the game, even going so far as to form a thoroughly professional looking catching practice cordon in a clear attempt to intimidate the opposition. The fact that the majority of the catches were actually being taken was at once both impressive and worrying for the evening's captain Joe White, who was concerned that the team were using up all their catching powers before the game had even begun. None the less, the omens were good. The game's first issue arrived with the fact that our evening's opposition, Cambridge St Giles, were short of 1 player for the evening. Given that Remnants in fact had 12 players present at the ground, 6 of whom were also affiliated with St Giles, made it an easy decision to donate one to make the sides even. In the end, Ben Stone very kindly agreed to swap sides and proceedings for the evening began in earnest.
Having won the toss, Joe decided to bat first on the impeccable Fitz wicket, hoping that the early season light conditions would play to our advantage in the second innings. Kaustav Dutta and James Crozier got the innings underway watchfully to begin with, getting a feel for batting outdoors again against a disciplined St Giles attack. Having settled in well, both had started to find their timing and were beginning to accelerate the scoring when Kaustav (7) fell to a lofted drive. This brought Tom Davidson to the crease who was able to up the scoring rate well with some lusty blows and good running with James. Unfortunately, there ended up being one sharp single too many for James who was run out by a laser-guided direct hit for 9. Temoor Khan came in at number 4 and was just beginning to find his timing when he became the first of three somewhat comical run outs (out of four in total) in the Remnants innings. In this case, whilst running a sedate single Temoor failed to run his bat in and was run out by a direct hit for 4. Tom then followed for an aggressive 27, playing down the wrong line to the first ball of a new bowler's spell. This wicket brought Saad Shoukat to the crease on debut for Remnants. Batting with the mighty, if slightly injured, Dave Norman, Saad showed great enthusiasm and aggression including a 6 as his first scoring shot and three different bats. However, he was dismissed all too early in somewhat bizarre circumstances when running a single, having stopped to allow the incoming throw from an outfielder to pass him when just outside his crease, the throw then hit the stumps on the full and he was run out for 15. At this point the remnants innings had reached the final couple of overs and both Joe and Naveen fell cheaply looking to up the run rate, Naveen being the final of the comical run out hattrick, again falling foul of not running his bat in on what should have been an easy single. It fell to Dave (22*) and Seth Aycock (8*) to see us to the end of the innings, striking some lusty blows in the final over. Remnants ended on a total of 103/7 after 13 eight-ball overs which, given the quality of our opposition, felt at least 20 runs short - although it can be difficult to judge in these slightly truncated early season games.
The first problem to surmount in the Remnants fielding innings was the issue of who would keep wicket. With no obvious candidates, Kaustav bravely put his hand up having "had a go once at nets". Having played several somewhat frustrating games in the past with novice 'keepers, Joe had a slight concern as to how this would go. Kaustav, however, proved more than capable showing a good deal of class and athleticism through out the innings, with the only byes conceded being to two deliveries that three 'keepers together (or two Geoff Haleses) would have struggled to reach.
In a team where 10 of the 11 players could legitimately refer to themselves as a bowler (sorry James, you don't quite qualify . . . but stay loose), the second problem was who was going to bowl such that we could restrict the St Giles batsmen. In the end Joe (0/18) and Seth (0/30) opened the bowling, finding a little movement and carry off the wicket early on. The St Giles batsmen were predictably classy, looking to work singles when faced by good deliveries, mixed with powerful strikes at the loser deliveries. This was particularly apparent when Seth's 4th ball was launched over the boundary netting on the far side of the ground for an enormous six, loosing the first of the 3 balls used in the innings in the process. The first St Giles opener, having taken 20 odd runs off Seth's last over, duly retired for 30 (a rule St Giles were applying voluntarily for their own batsmen) to give remnants their first "breakthrough". Temoor (1/10), with his leg spin variations, and Tom (1/13), with his nippy in duckers, then came on as first and second change respectively, and were able to bring the scoring rate down well – Tom even managing that most rare of a cricketing achievement, an eight ball maiden. Tom was also responsible for taking remnants first legitimate wicket, a straightforward catch for debutant Saad at backward point. The two newer St Giles batsmen found the going a little more tough against Temoor and Tom, with the runs drying up and eventually leading to a wicket for Temoor as the batsmen looked to hit out only to York himself and be bowled. The second of Remnants debutants, Andrew Celsus (0/13), then came into the fray for his first bowl of the season. Running up the hill from the Windsor road end, Andrew found rhythm hard to come by in conditions which were slowly getting darker and wetter underfoot as the dew came in. Likewise, the remnants fielders were finding conditions increasingly tricky, with several near slip ups on the greasy outfield. However, the St Giles batsmen were also finding things more difficult to negotiate in the increasing gloom, and the introduction of John "the destroyer" Moore (0/11) lead to the first period of real pressure on the batsmen as the balls remaining count started to reduce, leading to a sharp run out from Seth and Kaustav. With the final 2 overs remaining, St Giles needed 11 to win. It fell to Saad (0/10) to bowl the penultimate over. A couple of sharp deliveries led to dots off the first two balls, however two classy boundaries and a 2 of the following three balls brought the scores level and the game seemed about to end. However, with the field in, the St Giles batsmen could not find the single needed for victory for Saad's final 3 balls, and suddenly the fielders began to imagine a heroic tie with a maiden off the last over of the day. John's first ball was a well flighted spinner that the batsmen could only defend and John's place in the Remnants hall of fame drew a step closer. Could it be the most remarkable of finishes to a game? Would this be a story told to future Remnants in hushed and awed tones? . . . Well . . . no. John's second delivery was a good one but the batsman swung hard and managed to pierce the infield allowing the ball to run away for a boundary and the victory.
In the end, a more than fair result, with St Giles clearly the better side. But a well contested game in the end, played in great spirit, being much closer than most thought it would be. The players stayed for a friendly but swift drink, however the encroaching dark and damp forced all but the hardiest home soon after.