Remnants vs. Northstowe

17:45, Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Fitzwilliam College

Remnants (134/3 in 14 8-ball overs)
Northstowe (110/7 in 14 8-ball overs)
by 24 runs.

Report by Daniel Mortlock:

Remember the '90s? Some of you will - but some of you weren't even born then. It really was a different age: mobile phones like bricks; Kevin Spacey getting film roles; genuine rock music topping the charts; Australia as good at cricket as England was bad at it; and Remnants sides containing the likes of Ev Fox, Paul Jordan, Faruk Kara, Andy Owen, John Richer and John Young, although they'd never appeared together in the same Remnants team . . . until today. Indeed, if one is to be strict about the definition of a decade, this list could also include Daniel Mortlock, who made his Remnants debut in 2000 (and played against Remnants back in 1997).

Wonderful as it was to have so many veterans turning out, there was of course the danger of having a rather, er, static side in the field. We partially mitigated against this by naming a twelve - Northstowe generously allowed us to rotate players off in the field, potentially useful for toilet breaks. They also agreed to let us bat first, albeit perhaps a little more grudgingly - and they might not have been so generous if they'd known that half our side was still in the pub when the psuedo-toss took place. We did at least manage to shut down silly talk by one of the opposition that we go for a full length game - he was sure that the clouds were going to break up later in the evening - although even then it turned out that 14x8s was over-ambitious.

Our Bassingbourn chapter, benefiting from having come straight to the ground and being allowed to open together, promptly went on the rampage, first James Robinson (42* off 41 balls) and then Matt Andrews (40* off 25 balls) making it to this evening's retirement score. There were a few plays and misses of course, but the only real scare was when Matt top-edged a pull that looked to be heading towards the mid-wicket fielder, Jeswin Sameul (of St Barnabas fame). The ball was in the air for long enough that Daniel, scoring, had time to inform everyone within earshot that it would definitely be taken, and so mocking laughter, directed at Daniel, accompanied the "plop" sound of the ball landing on the soft grass some five metres out of the fielder's reach - hopefully Jeswin didn't think we were laughing at him. Our numbers three and four, Cam Petrie (20 off 16 balls) and John Young (3 off 7 balls), then had the chance to mimic England's openers today by completing a century partnership - albeit involving four batters rather than the customary two, something with which the relevant records page can't deal with. From the dizzy heights of 112/0 in the 11th (eight-ball) over, we then had a rather dramatic collapse, losing 3 wickets for 4 runs, with poor John Richer (0 off 9 balls), having been coaxed back into playing his first game of cricket since 2015 (i.e., so long ago that Brexit wasn't even a thing), perishing to what seemed to be a rather flukey catch off the first shot he really middled. There was a brief period of worry that our great start was going to be squandered, but Ev Fox (7* off 7 balls) and Joe White (11* off 7 balls) did enough to get us to a healthy 134/3, which felt likely to be a winning total in what were already dim conditions.

Unfazed by switching to a promisingly luminous, if pre-used, pink ball, Joe White (1/1) continued his good evening's work by beating the outside edge a few times before bowling one of the Northstowe openers. This led to the suggestion that in these evening games Joe give up on the "fifth stump" line that's justified against the sort of batters he was faced with when playing for Granta's first team a few years back, and instead just aim a the stumps. Certainly that was broadly the approach taken by Paul Jordan, Daniel Mortlock and Faruk Kara in what was effectively a bowl-off to top the wicket-taking table for the season, all three having started the evening with 14 scalps, 5 more than anyone else this year (but a long way off the all-time record of 41, held inevitably by Tony Malik, who umpired the entire match this evening). Faruk (0/18) was tidy but unable to add to his total, despite a decent LBW shout (that Daniel and a more obviously disinterested Cam, both fielding square of the wicket, were united in considering too high); Paul (2/25) yorked two batters to up the mark to 16; and then Daniel (3/10) went one better, again via the sorts of straight balls that had been advocated earlier.

Paul and Daniel's first wickets, along with that taken by Ben Hammersley (1/13) were legit; but the rest came during the somewhat pointless final overs of the game which were played in ridiculously dark conditions. The clouds very definitely did not break up, and instead felt like they'd lowered themselves over the ground like the alien motherships from Independence Day (or, for the more cultured readers, Childhood's End). Perhaps the one factor that allowed us to complete the game was that it had already effectively been decided: after 9 overs Northstowe were 57/4, meaning they needed 78 runs from 40 balls. That meant we could at least zoom through the remaining overs coming in off shortened run-ups, making sure to keep the ball slow and full (in contrast to the aborted 2003 game against The CB XI that most of us were lucky enough to have forgotten about - or to be unaware of in the first place). A few batters did miss straight deliveries that they probably would otherwise have been able to defend (i.e., Paul's and Daniel's "bonus" wickets), but there was actually plenty of clean connections, Northstowe almost doubling their total in this period. Indeed, it was the fielders whose task was really impossible, every clean hit being followed by confused Remnants trying to work out if the ball was coming their way, followed by shouts of "To your left John!" which would have been more useful if there hadn't been two Johns, Richer and Young, fielding sufficiently close to each other that one was inevitably sent the wrong way. The "pairing up" option was perhaps a good one, and taken to an extreme by Matt and James on the far boundary, who continued their partnership from the start of the game with a sort of bromance in which, no matter where they were placed by the captain, they ended up a few metres apart on the boundary, perhaps to facillitate some sort of triangulation when the ball came their way. The game came to an appropriately farcical conclusion when the final ball was, once again, hit towards the Johns: the frantic screams from the rest of us were met by the sight of John Richer reflexively covering his head in case the ball was in the air - whereas as it was, in fact, rolling fairly sedately across the grass. There was the brief fear that the batters might run the 28 needed for victory while we felt around in the dark for the ball, but it was found and returned in good time to keep the batters to a three.

Whoever was scoring the Northstowe book in the second innings awarded the presumptively masculine "MAN OF MATCH" to "Bad Light / James" which, other than the implied slight against Matt given his considerably quicker scoring, seemed about right. Still, the conditions at least didn't affect the result and there were no injuries, so the mini-'90s reunion was able to continue with post-match drinks in the warm glow of the pavilion lights.