AstraZeneca vs. Pfizer

18:00, Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Fitzwilliam College

AstraZeneca (130/4 in 22 6-ball overs)
Pfizer (130/7 in 22 6-ball overs)

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

This spring the entire English cricket community was suddenly faced with the unexpected arrival of the 2021 season. Some clubs responded well to this challenge, but others struggled, and Remnants in particular failed to deal with the influx of opposition teams and their run-hungry batters and miserly bowlers. The result was a seemingly contagious series of losses - perhaps all that could curb the spread would be lockdown-induced cancellations like the run which dominated the 2020 season. But then there was the miracle of June and a run of five consecutive wins, perhaps the cricketing equivalent of herd immunity. It was now time to test Remnants against itself and so captains Daniel Mortlock and Cam Petrie decided to name their sides Pfizer and AstraZeneca, respectively. (What odds could you have got on these team names a year or two ago?)

Captains Daniel Mortlock and Cam Petrie took different sartorial approaches to the coin toss.

Cam called correctly at the the toss and elected to lead from the front, coming out to face the first ball of the game, which he duly hit to the boundary. This established the pattern for the next half hour, as first Cam and then fellow opener James Robinson extracted full value from anything pitched at all short. It could have been a long afternoon in the sun for the Pfizer fielders, but fortunately a retirement score of 40 had been agreed upon, and so James found himself heading back to the pavilion in just the 6th (six-ball) over, having raced to 41* off just 21 balls. After 7 overs AZ's total was an imposing 65/0, and a mammoth score was on the cards . . .

Cam Petrie gets amongst the runs early.

Mike Foulkes bowling with his Bassingbourn teammate James Robinson as non-striker, while Paul Jordan officiates.

. . . but Pfizer made a quite remarkable comeback, primarily thanks to some canny bowling from the spinners (or at least slow bowlers), Catherine Owen (1/18), Quentin Harmer (0/16) and Richard Rex (2/16) all proving near-impossible to hit. Of the AZ middle order only Chris Badger (15 off 13 balls) and Pete Ames (11 off 10 balls) made it into double figures, but both perished trying to hit Richard out of the ground. Chris was unlucky to pick out the one boundary fielder, Quentin, who was rock-solid under a tricky catch; and Pete skied a rather simpler chance to Daniel (who thus went past Geoff's club record for most catches, this being his 118th). Had this unprecedented catching trend kept up Richard would have been in line for his first five-for since high school; but the team-level case of dropsy once again returned, two more skiers going down in as many balls. Not that it really made much difference, as all the AZ middle order were struggling to score, so wickets weren't particularly relevant from a match perspective. Indeed, such was Pfizer's dominance during the phase of the game that it required a last-ball boundary by Huw Davies (8* off 22 balls) for Team AZ to even double their 7-over total.

The socially-distanced club photo.

Nick Johnson and Andy Bell get serious about their social-distancing.

Following a second socially-distanced club photo (following that last year), Team AZ set about trying to defend what all agreed to be a sub-par target. They certainly started brilliantly enough, as Brajesh Kumar (0/10) conceded just 5 runs from his first three overs and Paul Jordan (1/21) began with a wicket maiden. After 7 overs Pfizer were just 17/1, some 48 doses- er, runs behind where AZ were at the same stage. Runs started to come a bit more quickly, but at the cost of wickets, as Huw went on the rampage taking 4/24 to leave Pfizer on 55/5 after 13 overs: 76 needed off 55 balls was starting to look out of reach.

Not that all was lost for Pfizer, as opener Qaiser Ahmed had weathered this storm and now found a more than able partner in Remnants first-timer Dante McGrath. Together they took 40 runs from the next 4 overs, Dante dominating both the strike and the run-scoring with 24* crisply-smacked runs off just 17 balls. The heavy scoring seemed likely to continue when Team AZ made the surprise move of bringing on Nick Johnson (1/6), who hadn't bowled - or possibly even touched - a cricket ball since 2019. Sure enough, his first delivery was off-line and Dante swivelled around to smash a big pull . . . only for Huw to impose himself on the game once again with a fantastic running catch, grabbing the ball just a few inches off the turf.

When, a few balls later Qaiser had to retire (on 40* off 43 balls), the game had swung around again, as Pfizer now had two new batsmen, Richard Rex and Daniel Mortlock, at the crease. They couldn't match Dante and Qaiser in the boundary-hitting stakes - they managed just one between them - but they perhaps represented the unpredictable Delta Variant as they instead set about scampering the required runs. Their apparently suicidal singles induced a series of fielding panics that resulted in several multiple overthrows with the ball zig-zagging back and forth between the increasingly discombobulated fielders. This approach was so successful that Pfizer needed just 2 runs off the last 3 balls. But the game had one more twist as Daniel (11 off 10 balls) tried his luck once too often, Brajesh making a great stop and sharp throw from point that gave Cam, now keeping wicket, plenty of time to whip off the bails. This also meant that Richard (15* off 13 balls) found himself marooned at the non-striker's end, leaving Mike Foulkes, taking strike for the first time in Remnants cricket, with the unenviable task of dealing with Andy Owen (0/22) and his bag of tricks. Sure enough, Mike only just managed to dig out his first ball, but he got bat on the second and a comfortable single meant the game ended in a result that seemed to please everyone: a tie.

The sun sets on the game.

The post-match scene.