Report by Dave Williams:
On turning in to the Fitz driveway alongside Dave Norman's house you can sometimes get a good sense of how the match will unfold. This evening many of the opposition seemed to be wearing green gear; this apparently is the new thing among young cricketers who, following the trends in the professional game, are required in their competitions to tune in to the increasingly-dominant visual codes and cues of the white-ball game. And why not? I happen to like the cool Druidic elegance of the whites, but the game moves on ...
Certainly the strong youth bias of the St Giles squad was in itself a cause for celebration. But would the canny wiles of some of the Remnants old stagers out-think our opponents' beer-belly-free athleticism?
Captain Chris Badger, as a current St G. member, was unusually well placed to read the St Giles gameplan. Indeed, I cannot remember any previous Remnants captain collecting the opposition's match fees. Would Chris's insider knowledge give us a competitive edge?
The game kicked off with Temoor Khan opening from the Windsor Road end. Maybe the excitement of the new ball tempted him to bowl faster than usual, and a couple of shorter ones were crisply smacked to the leg boundary. From the Huntingdon Road end Naveen Chouksey's distinctive zigzag run-up served up some good pace tidily without unduly troubling the batters (3 overs, 0/21). At his slower pace TK did beat the bat for his bowled (3 overs, 1/26). The St Giles 2 and 3 continued to deal comfortably with first change Qaiser Ahmed's rapid arrows (2 overs, 0/18) as they piled on a 64-run partnership at a healthy 10 or so per (eight-ball) over. Shrewd pace-off from Faruk Kara (and the retirement at 50 of the St Giles number 2) brought him his three wickets (two clean bowled) for 30 runs, but a mini-collapse was averted by a particularly composed member of the St G. young guns who impressed with thoughtful and well-executed reverse sweeps into the gaps off some of John Moore's heavy lobs. John's customary invitations to batsmen that they confuse themselves to destruction in pondering the nature of hubris and the risk-reward trade-off didn't quite work out this evening; his two overs got clonked for 30. Toward the end Anand Kairamkonda (2 overs, 2/30) induced a couple of effective stumpings from Neil Grover as the youthful St G. middle order attempted to accelerate the rate using the familiar kamikaze hurl-yourself-down-the-wicket-to-smash-the-slow-bowler-into-the-next-county manoeuvre. Chris's field placements were prescient in having the right fielder in the right place, but the damage had been done; 163 was by any standards a strong total.
The Remnants fightback didn't quite go to plan as Tom Serby departed first ball (bowled); David Williams lasted two more for another 0 (LBW) and a couple of heavily bruised toes. Qaiser, however, was hitting it hard and running fast for his 23 (off 24 balls), but TK couldn't get started for his 4 (off 11). Prasad Kulkarni could only copy Tom's example, and in Neil Grover's 8* off 18 he couldn't manage to get Chris back on strike. Chris 50* (off 44) was majestic and, with some effective support at the other end, might even have got us close. Extras - 34 of them - tried their best.
Meanwhile, back in that far-off country that is professional Cricketland, the curious creature that is The Hundred hauls itself out of the shadows into the limelight. I can't imagine what discussions took place to arrive at the conclusion that "over" is a term to be avoided at all costs but that newcomers to cricket need no explanation of "LBW", let alone "googly" or double-bluff field placements. I'm tempted to apply Dr Johnson's aphorism that "the good parts are not original, and the original parts are not good". Nonetheless, there really are some interesting, creative and important innovations. The game - once upon a time it was a betting game where 22 players might play against 11 as long as it made for attractive odds - continues to evolve, and it is right that it should. I for one wish it every success.