Remnants vs. Linton

17:30, Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Fitzwilliam College

Linton (104/4 in 12 8-ball overs)
lost to
Remnants (105/1 in 10.6 8-ball overs)
by 9 wickets.

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

Remnants today fell for one of the two classic blunders: the first, as the world has tragically been reminded, is getting involved in a land war in Asia; The second is not, as it is commonly claimed, going against a Sicilian when death is on the line, but rather trying to play evening cricket in September. This is something that Remnants - and Geoff in particular - used to know very well: the last time we were foolish enough to attempt this was back in 2010, and it was not a great success.

But this season has been different. Perhaps because there's so much we have not been able to do due to Covid-19, there's been an extra appreciation of what we have been able to do - which, from a Remnants-centric point of view, is play evening cricket. For most of the season the entries on the fixtures list for yesterday and today have languished as just "to be arranged", with no serious effort put into any actual arranging. That seemed to change when the season's end started to really loom into view, and so this week's matches basically arranged themselves: the organisation for this evening consisted of a single WhatsApp message from Linton player Simon Godsill.

With the prospect of a long cricketless winter hence pushed back a bit, the chat on the WhatsApp group shifted to a discussion of if and how we'd get a decent game in. The short evenings weren't really tested in the two thrashings administered by Cam Kerala last Tuesday and the Cambridge Warriors yesterday, but when the Northstowe game went the distance last Wednesday the end of the game was pretty farcical, with the brightest light source being the glow from the pavilion lights. All sorts of baroque suggestions were made: play a Hundred; bowl consecutive overs from the same end; play entirely from one end; and so on. In the end we kept it simple: start as early as possible but shorten the game as appropriate. We'd all agreed on a 5:30pm start - but it was always more aspirational than any sort of meaningful deadline: Remnants was at least quorate by then; but Linton, most of whom had to travel further, didn't even have the players to constitute an opening partneship and umpires at both ends. No question of having a toss, so it was a case of waiting until Linton had the numbers to get the game underway, a delay which gave us a chance to look through the averages for any head-to-head competitions to decide the season's honours.

We started off with a battle between the most economical bowler of the century, Joe White, and of the year, Sushant Achawal. Both were superb once again today, returning figures of 0/8 and 1/15, respectively, and Sushant hence finished the season with an economy rate of just 3.85 (and more maiden overs than all other bowlers put together), while the Linton openers were restricted to comfortably less than a run a ball. Linton then managed something of a comeback, through a combination of big hitting and seemingly arbitrary retirements: the first followed the surviving opener making it to 30 (which might seem to make sense, but for the fact the agreed-on retirement score was 40); the second was Simon in mid-flow; and they then became increasingly frequent and unpredictable, to the point where one batsman retired and then came back in a few balls later at the fall of a wicket. The innings came to a fairly frenetic conclusion with a final over that had a bit of everything we love about mid-week evening cricket:

Andy Owen, possibly about to make a hands-free stumping.

With the cloud cover still total, Linton made the wise decision to use a pink ball for the second innings - maybe more difficult for our batters to time properly, but definitely harder for their fielders to catch. The former was immediately apparent as openers Ben Hammersley and Cam Petrie both connected with lots of big shots but (other than Ben's dismissal of the first two balls of the innings, both very wayward) the result was just singles and twos. There were at least enough of these to keep up with the required rate, and even though there was a small hiccup when a communication breakdown led to Ben's run out (for 14 off 11 balls), Seb Hammersley picked up where his brother left off: he also couldn't get his timing right, but managed enough singles and twos to keep us up with the asking rate. The moment we finally broke the back of the chase was when Linton brought one of their openers back on, only for the fielders to let successive boundaries through when they opted to tentatively extend a foot in preference to diving.

Cam Petrie about to launch another big drive.

By the half-way point of the innings the fielders were, predictably, struggling to pick up the ball, whereas Cam and Seb seemed to be seeing it just fine - while batting in the dark isn't easy, fielding in the dark is even more of a challenge. The most absurd moment of the match came when Seb pulled the ball towards us in the pavilion and we watched the closest fielder stand stock still, looking around deseparately as he tried work out where the ball had gone. Seb and Cam of course knew the direction the ball had taken, and having seen that the nearby fielders weren't attempting to intercept, felt no need to run . . . but, as you can perhaps guess from the number of column inches devoted to this one delivery, the ball had pulled up on the now dewy grass, coming to a stop a foot inside the boundary. There followed a battle of screaming matches, the more distant Linton players trying to direct their fielders towards the ball while the watching Remnants exhorted Seb and Cam to start running. In the end we managed a two - which was probably what we'd have gotten in normal conditions anyway.

Sushant Achawal, Daniel Mortlock, John Moore and Andy Owen can barely contain their excitement.

Linton's final roll of the dice was to bring on one of their second team bowlers (and very occasional Remnant), Ajay Joseph: despite being on the mend after an ankle injury and fielding today in jeans, he was considerably quicker than anyone else on either side - while one could sympathise with Linton's situation, this card should is one which really should have been played earlier. Any fears of injury were initially allayed as our batters, if anything, seemed to enjoy being able to use the pace on the ball; but then Seb connected too well with a straight drive that slammed into Ajay's already damaged foot. Ajay went down and the traditional circle of concern formed around him, the end result of which was that he was helped from the field with what, unfortunately, turned out to be a broken ankle.

From there our already likely win became a formality, and even Cam's retirement (for 40* off 40 balls) just meant that we got to finish with a bat-off between the season's two top scorers, Chris Badger (on 393 runs coming into today's game) coming out to join Seb (who'd started a little ahead on 427). That said, it wasn't really a fair battle, as Chris (0*) faced just one ball, whereas Seb (33* off 31 balls) got to hit the winning runs with an unnecessary but amusing ramp shot.

So for once we'd gotten away with our little adventure into September, with a highly enjoyable game of cricket which, despite its abbreviated form, contained plenty of the action and madness which makes our evening twenty/20s so enjoyable. As a bonus it evened up our season's ledger at 16 wins vs. 16 losses from 32 completed external matches, a considerable improvement given that we'd been two from nine at one point. The Linton guys, with Sushant in tow, headed off to Ajay's own restaurant for dinner, whereas we'll have to wait until November when we will (hopefully) have our first club dinner since the halcyon days of 2019.