Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Six years ago to the day Remnants beat the Woozlers by 5 wickets. So what? Surely that's not a particularly remarkable result? And indeed back then it wasn't - that successful chase took our record against the Woozlers to a pretty healthy 14 wins vs. 10 losses. But since then they've won 7 matches in a row, for the most part pretty comfortably, thanks mainly to their abundance of quality batsmen. Today, though, things would be different: we had an awesome batting side assembled, as well as some decent bowling, so all we needed to do was win the toss and field first, confident that we'd be able to chase down whatever target they set.
That, in short, is not what happened.
The first problem was that we were in the middle of a week of organisational anarchy during which literally hundreds of e-mails were exchanged regarding teams, times, grounds, weather, etc. Constantly changing team lists were the least of it, although it's difficult to know whether the nadir was the half hour during which it was mistakenly believed that our kit box had been stolen (when it was in its usual spot the whole time) or the fact that it wasn't until Monday that we realised we'd stupidly managed to schedule a third fixture for the week (against ARM tomorrow, for which just two players had signed up on the Doodle poll). It's hence no surprise that our team for this evening wasn't quite the powerhouse anti-Woozlers crack squad initially selected, although the fact that we went down to ten half an hour before the match was rather put into perspective by the reason for the late drop-out - cricket really isn't that important, much as it can consume one's energies.
Still, our basic plan remained the same - use the extra information of batting second to our advantage - and Daniel did his bit towards this aim by confusing the Woozlers' captain with a bizarre spinless toss - the coin remained perfectly horizontal throughout its flight, before then rolling on its edge in a straight line along the pitch before finally falling to one side. The side was "tails" and the call had been "heads" . . . but the fact that we only had six players present meant we had to "choose" to bat first after all.
Not that our off-field troubles ended there, as it soon became clear that our non-stolen kit box didn't contain any standard red balls - we had to sheepishly offer the opposition a choice between pink and orange. After some "ball whispering" they went with the former, although they were both horrible and rock-hard.
With the chosen ball in the umpire's pocket and the batting line-up sorted we were finally ready to g- . . . er no, as it turned out opener Chris Badger had somehow arrived without any shoes, which meant borrowing Daniel's, who hence had to wander around - and subsequently umpire - in his socks. Not that it mattered, as all we were really concerned about was runs, and the early signs - the first delivery of the game was a "moon ball" that would have been a wide on height if it wasn't already a no ball - were that there were plenty on offer. Our openers, Chris (14 off 21 balls) and Will Phelps (21 off 19 balls), both got going well before falling to slightly loose shots, after which Marcus Baker (26 off 24 balls) and Temoor Khan started smashing the ball to all corners of the ground. With the score on 103/2 after 11.6 (eight-ball) overs, and with both batsmen scoring seemingly at will, the stage was set for the 150+ total we needed:
Said new batsmen, Cam Petrie (20* off 17 balls) and Craig Driver (9 off 11 balls, before falling to yet another good outfield catch), were at least able to keep the scoring going, taking us to a reasonably healthy 138/6. But such targets have been chased with ease by the Woozlers in our recent matches against them, and it just didn't feel like enough.
Still, there was some hope initially as Craig Driver (0/6 from his first 2 overs), Daniel Mortlock (1/1 from his first over) and Temoor (1/4 from his first over) reduced the Woozlers to 10/2 half-way through the 4th over. The problem is that, while the openers had struggled to score, the Woozlers' third wicket pair, Sam Grimshaw and Evan Martin, had the opposite problem, both finding their time in the middle limited by compulsory retirement upon getting their half centuries (off 27 and 37 balls, respectively). That said, most of us believe Temoor had Martin caught behind early in his innings; and, less ambiguously, we dropped Sam three times, in each case pretty basic outfield catches to good fieldsman - the only explanation can be the different elasticity of the hard pink ball. Most unlucky here was Richie Young (0/35) who induced two of these chances; although the real story was that slow bowling just wasn't working. The 7 overs from our spinners went for 104 runs, three times the rate conceded by our two seamers (28 runs from 6 overs).
The one thing we did universally got right was our ground fielding, with Chris and Will managing a couple of direct hits (albeit with the batsman home in both cases), Craig making some spectacular one-handed stops from high-bounces, and Marcus making some sharp leg-side takes. Indeed, that's how the game should have ended, as Cam Petrie's first ball of the season was way down leg and would have been a (two-run) wide . . . but the Woozlers were in such control by this stage that the batsman, Cambridge University 'keeper Ed Hyde, decided he wanted to hit the winning runs himself and so blocked the ball with a tennis-style backhand before finishing the game next ball.
So the fantasy of ending our run of losses against the Woozlers and finally balancing our season's ledger was revealed to be just that: a fantasy. Instead we decided to double down and have tentatively organised to end our season with a third match against the Woozlers on August 21.