Report by Daniel Mortlock:
For the first time this season we were faced today with a side, AVEVA, we knew absolutely nothing about. Their secretary, Matt Billing, had contacted us back in early 2020 to see if we might fancy a fixture or two, but the Covid pandemic, inter alia, cancelled both our matches, leaving us none the wiser. As we assembled at the ground this evening there was a strong rumour that AVEVA was one of the very first Cambridge University spin-off software companies, dating back to the '60s rather than "dot com" boom of the '90s (an assertion which was confirmed by some post-match Googling). Certainly some of their players had the "tech employee who likes cricket" look, but several others had the vibe of being canny Saturday league veterans.
The watershed moment in our threat assessment process arrived almost immediately after they won the toss and elected to field: their wicket-keeper took up position a full pitch-length back, suggesting an opening bowler of express pace (an impression that was only reinforced when his name was given to the scorers as Imran); but the fact that the 'keeper had shorts on left open other possibilities. We were hoping either to see an 80mph blur thud into the 'keeper's gloves or a dibbly-dobbly come to a halt several yards short of him . . . but the end result was disappointingly unremarkable: a decent bowler comparable in pace to our own openers, who ended up with deservedly handy figures of 1/11 from his 3 (six-ball) overs. Our innings thus began fairly slowly, just 13 runs coming from the first 3 overs; but from then it was a steady march up through the gears, thanks to a combination of looser bowling (which included 10 wides and 4 no balls) and free hitting by our long batting line-up. The stars were Kanwar Singh, despite the handicap of batting in mud-coloured tracksuit bottoms, who retired on 41* off 29 balls, and James Robinson, who hit a fabulous 38 off 19 balls, making a mockery of his pre-innings request to be put down the order on the grounds of poor batting form. Add in nice contributions from Temoor Khan (23 of 21 balls), Tom Serby (18* off 26 balls, having failed to score off his first 7) and Taz Islam (10 off 7 balls, before being bowled off the final delivery of the innings), and we had our highest total of the season: 168/5.
We headed out into the field pretty confident of defending this, although Taz (1/12) had a bit of a rude awakening when the AVEVA opener started hitting through the line from ball one; but then Taz brought back his length and got a nice revenge in the form of the off bail being sent 30 yards over slip's head. It was then time to give the old hands a go, today's bowling "engine room" of Daniel Mortlock, Andy Owen, Paul Jordan and Faruk Kara all having played their first Remnants games last century. On paper the oldies did well, taking the other nine AVEVA wickets between them, although it was at some cost, their 13.2 overs going for 91 runs (i.e., almost 7 an over). In part this was due to the admirable "here for a good time, not a long time" approach of the AVEVA batters - fully half their runs came in boundaries - but we contributed plenty as well, with Faruk (1/28) and Paul (3/33) mixing in some rather, er, wild deliveries with the genuine wicket-taking balls - our four no balls were unarguable, and we were rather fortunate that the AVEVA umpires called just four wides. Daniel (2/12) and Andy (3/18) were a bit more consistent, to the point that Andy found himself bowling to a predatory field of slips and silly this-and-that's before . . .
. . . he took over as wicket-keeper to facillitate Ashwin Venkatesh's first bowling spell for the club. Ash ended up with unremarkable figures of 0/11, although this was only because our catching was once again, er, sub-optimal. Ash's first ball was mis-hit in the direction of Kanwar, who'd just completed his run to mid-on from his position on the boundary in the previous over and continued on smoothly on towards mid-wicket to complete the catch . . . only for the ball to pop out. Then, two balls later, a top edge headed out towards cover-point, half-way between Andy Bell at cover and James at point; Andy had a good sight of the ball but noticed James was closer; but James had lost the ball in the sun . . . and so of course they pulled up a few yards from each other, the ball plopping into the vacant turf between them.
Even though we didn't get everything right, the evening pretty much went to plan: a fun game played in a friendly spirit in perfect conditions - and, as a bonus, that rarest of things, a Covid-era Remnants victory.