Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The early signs were that tonight's game was going to be a bit of a shambles, with the initially-announced team including two captains (one of whom was also on the reserves list), two wicket-keepers, and poor Sushant caught in a kind of time loop as playing on the "other" night in both this week's teams:
This, er, esoteric approach to selection did not go unnoticed on the WhatsApp group:
[12:24, 13/08/2021] Daniel Mortlock: Teams up for next week at www.remnantscc.net/2021/1708/report.html and www.remnantscc.net/2021/1808/report.html.
[13:50, 13/08/2021] Temoor Khan: @Daniel Mortlock: i like this innovation of having two keepers & two captains. one per end? :)
[13:54, 13/08/2021] Neil Grover: And Badger on the bench too
[14:14, 13/08/2021] Seb Hammersley: Or does one organise the off side and the other the leg side?
[14:15, 13/08/2021] Sushant Achawal: Great shout against a lefty righty
After the initial excitement of having such an original team structure, things calmed down - although not completely, as neither of the named captains ended up skippering on the evening, Daniel deciding to wade in, thus violating the First Rule of Holes (i.e., stop digging).
Game day itself was, pleasingly, much calmer: no last-minute drop-outs and all eleven players present by 6pm (even if the start time was given as 15 minutes earleir). Our opposition, Lidgate & Ousden - no, still not a high-end legal firm - were similarly punctual, which meant a proper toss, which they won . . . and so it was a surprise to find ourselves padding up to set a target, having been saved from the fate of chasing in the dark that was such a challenge yesterday.
This surprising decision was perhaps justified by the presence in their side of a decidedly sharp opening bowler - no way he'd have been able to bowl late in the second innings. But his speed was a double-edged sword, as when openers Ben Hammersley and Chris Badger got a bit of width the ball flew to the boundary every time - revealingly, always behind square. He was quick enough to get Ben (14 off 11 balls) when he was late on a pull, but Chris was rock solid, almost carrying his bat before retiring on 50* (off 51 balls) in the penultimate over. At the other end he'd gotten enterprising support from James Robinson (10 off 14 balls) and Seb Hammersley (19* off 19 balls), and we looked set to post a stiff target until Lidgate's opening bowlers came back on to great effect, just 12 runs coming from the last two (eight-ball) overs.
Our total, 114/5, seemed even less imposing when the Lidgate top order started smashing boundaries at will - one of their openers felt sufficiently confident in his ability to deal with our bowling to start griping about the "fifty and retire rule" (a silly comment not just for its hubris, but also because our low total all but precluded anyone getting the chance to score much more than 50). Their domination wasn't total - we took wickets with consecutive deliveries at one point, most critically when Anand Kairamonda held onto a tricky catch in the deep to dismiss their best batsman (James Atkinson, who mainly plays for Newmarket firsts in the Tucker 2 league) - but otherwise it was pretty one-sided. Mid-way through the 9th over L&O had reached 82/2, meaning they needed just 33 runs from 44 balls with 8 wickets in hand . . . or at least they would have but for the fact they attempted to make it 32 needed off 44 with an ambitious second run: James Robinson's flat return and 'keeper Marcus Baker's diving take earned us a critical run out - and, it seems, the spark we needed.
In what was a "now or never" situation we brought our opening bowlers back for their final overs - it worked for our opponents, why not for us? (And they didn't even have the advantage of what were now seriously gloomy conditions.) And, despite their first four overs costing 31 runs, it worked a treat: Daniel Mortlock (3/19) conceded just 3 runs from the 10th over; and then Joe White (0/15) allowed just a single from the 12th over. Add in a sharp stop and direct hit by Simon Godsill at mid-wicket, followed by a near-identical replay run out by James (who complained, understandably, that catches are recorded but run outs are not) and we'd turned the game around. Pete Ames (0/17) started his final over with Lidgate needing a still plausible 18 off 16 balls, but they were largely unable to hit his leggies and so the final over began with 15 still needed and the game all but won. The task of finishing things off fell to Seb Hammersley, whose basic mission was not to let the new batters attack the short leg-side boundary. The new batsman did manage to pull Seb's third ball, getting a fair piece of it - a six would mean 8 needed off 5 balls, keeping the game alive - and so we all peered in the vague direction we thought the ball was going, where it was a relief to see Pete setting himself on the boundary. In the end he couldn't hold the catch - no surprise - but he kept the ball in play, after which Seb (1/7) concded just a pair of twos and we were home, having taken 5/25 in what was a superb team comeback.
No post-match drinks, sadly - Dave appeared briefly but then unappeared - so our celebrations were combined to WhatsApp, the earlier selection debacles now long forgotten . . .