Remnants vs. St Barnabas Church

18:00, Thursday, June 3, 2021
Fitzwilliam College

St Barnabas Church (114/7 in 20 6-ball overs)
lost to
Remnants (115/3 in 15.3 6-ball overs)
by 7 wickets.

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

The new normal.

The report on our previous game against St Barnabas Church, just a few weeks ago, began on the downbeat note that Remnants was coming into the match on an all-time bad run of just 2 wins in 13 games. Fortunately, we managed to squeak a win with two balls to spare, meaning we need talk no more of losing streaks . . .

. . . except we promptly made an abject return to slumpland - we've lost five of the six games we've played since. So we came into this evening's game on an even longer all-time bad run, now of 21 matches with just 4 wins - it was like deja vu all over again.

This extended even to having having another aborted coin toss, albeit not because St Barnabas were tardy this time, but because the St Barnabas captain called "heads" . . . when the two valid options for the Chinese 5 yuan coin being used were "numbers" or "flowers". He correctly called "flowers" on the second toss and, after briefly flirting with the idea of allowing us to bat first on the grounds that we'd been robbed of this choice last time, decided "stuff it - we want to bat."

Despite some lucky escapes (e.g., an inside edge that was only deflected away from the stumps by the batsman's pads and then popped out of the 'keeper's gloves), the St Barnabas openers took the score to a healthy 40/0 in the 6th (six-ball) over. We then mounted a swing-based comeback as Sushant Achawal (2/17, movinng the ball in) and Brajesh Kumar (2/25, moving the ball out) shared four wickets in quick time. Of particular note was Sushant's first wicket, when his slower ball deceived the better of the openers, who mis-hit his big drive high in the air towards Brajesh at mid-off. This was just the sort of chance that we kept dropping last week, so there was a tense second or two as the ball completed its arc, but Brajesh was still and calm and never looked liked dropping it, just the sort of effort that might give all the fielders confidence . . . at least until Brajesh found himself under a near-identical shot next over but, despite looking just as still and calm, couldn't hold on. And we then reverted to type, several other chances going down in the second half of the innings. Fortunately, it didn't really matter: while the Barnies' middle-order batters connected with some big swings, they missed just as many, and never got the scoring rate significantly above a run a ball. This was largely thanks to good bowling by nominal batters Dave Williams (1/17, despite having arrived late with the non-excuse that "I had a boozy lunch and then fell asleep.") and James Robinson (1/4 from his near-perfect "death" over).

The field for Sushant's hat-trick ball.

Richard Rex looking to pounce at point.

Dave Williams in his dynamic follow-through.

Even though in our last match against St Barnabas we (once again) struggled to overhaul down a two-figure target, there was a sense that chasing 114 wasn't going to be too challenging now that our batters had knocked off the early season rust. This was demonstrated most clearly by CJ Barrie: batting for the first time since last summer against NCI a few weeks ago he'd looked most uncertain at the crease; but today he essayed a full collection of crisp pulls and drives, punishing both under- and over-pitched deliveries with ease. Playing yet another big drive he seemed set to go to retirement at 40, only to mysteriously check the shot, which was well caught by the long-on fielder. While a "not out" would, as CJ's father noted, have been better for his average, his innings of 38 off just 21 balls was perfect for the team. CJ received good support from Tom Serby (18 off 21 balls) and James Robinson (10 off 14 balls), who was robbed of four runs when Tom, now umpiring, couldn't evade a bullet straight drive - and then was caught playing across the line next ball.

CJ Barrie crunches another drive.

At 83/3 in the 11th over we now needed just 32 runs from 55 balls, so even scoring at 3 an over would be enough . . . although it was rather worrying that this is what we started to do with two new batters, Ashwin Venkatesh and John Young, at the crease. Suddenly the previously spread field was in a predatory ring, the result of which was that John scored just a single off his first 10 balls. We might even have been in trouble, but for the fortunate donation of some wides and no ball beamers, one of which John smote to the boundary to relieve the tension that was building up. It was perhaps appropriate that the winning runs came in the form of a wide off which a (non-)bye was run, leaving Ashwin (19* off 15 balls) and John (10* off 16 balls) with a slightly unfulfilled sense of "job done, but not really by us".

St Barnabas seemed resigned to their fate (see below) in a manner more reminiscent of Hinduism than Christiantiy, a fact that was perhaps linked to the presence, for the first time we could remember, of several Asian players in their side. Given just 10.9% of British Asians are Christians, were they actually members of the St Barnabas congregation? Sure enough it turned out they weren't . . . but the "explanation" (not that one was needed, of course) turned out to be far more interesting than one could ever have hoped for in asking the question: the side we played today was essentially a inter-faith collaboration between the Church of England and the non-denominational Jeswin Samuel Ministries. Jeswin, whose achievements go some way beyond being bowled out by Dave Williams for 2, has a huge following - his 2018 Christmas single has been viewed 2.6 million views on YouTube. He's hence presumably the second-most watched person ever to play against Remnants, behind only Sasha Baron Cohen (who played for Footlights against us back in 1993) - and even he doesn't rack up that many views as himself.

St Barnabas Church's report by Gavin Howard:

While striding up one of our nation's most beautiful mountains on Wednesday, I was reminded of the famous quote from George Mallory. To him, the existence of Mount Everest was the challenge in itself. When pondering why he repeatedly attempted its summit, he wrote "because it's there . . . its existence is a challenge."

One can apply the same thinking to mid-week cricket. A number of our squad this season have found "better" things to do with their time, filling their lives with far less worthwhile activities like exams or getting married. Yet, still the siren call of the death zone, or Fitz's ground as it's known, was to be heard by the select few from SBCC.

Much of our squad had remained huddled beneath the Hillary Step of half term activities, but ten (yes even then we couldn't quite raise a team) of us were up for the challenge.

James, the enthusiastic captain, won the toss and we elected to bat.

Clarky and I took the field. Martin batted well I thought, with elan and derring do, planting some big shots into the netting before being caught on 28. I, on the other hand, performed an innings as poorly judged and ill-timed as Prince Harry's new media career, wasting scoring opportunities and more likely to pile on pounds than runs. Robin and Jes came and went before bringing in Ramji for his debut. Not since Revd Nick Ladd had we seen a player of this calibre and he played delicate shots for a well judged 32. The Morris boys showed us what they could do before Karthik played his part well. 114/7 was a lowly total - we left a lot of runs out on the field. However, Ledzy's cameo for the last ball of the innings has to be noted. His quick running brought him shoulder to shoulder with a startled Karthik, a man half his age, yet the gallant Michael thought it impolite to overtake his partner, settling for just the three.

Remnants' reply was brisk and efficient but our catches were largely taken (thank you Jeswin) and while none of their batsmen entirely went away from us, our bowling again lacked any sense of threat. However, both Morrises returned figures (yes figures) of 1 for 22. I thought Robin bowled well and could have been used more, but they arrived at our total in the 16th over - this had not represented a huge challenge for our Remnant pals.

Again, our most efficient delivery was the arrival of the pizzas pitch-side and there was beer and chat with amiable Dave, the groundsman.

We have been offered a threepeat in our Remnants series of matches but as we all know insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. While we currently lack an edge as a side, either with the bat or the ball, it is wise to revert to more traditional fixtures and so we return to Newnham and King's ground on Monday for the battle of the YouTube stars. In one corner, brother Jeswin and his team. Jes's Christmas single has had 2.6 million views. In the other is my old friend Simon, preaching in our fair city today and lingering to play cricket with us both this week and next. Simon may not get the same level of viewers online (I've heard him sing, it's not pretty) but let's hope they are good match up on the pitch, should the King's groundsman let us play . . .