Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The first match of every cricket season is a slightly nervy event, with all but the most self-assured amateur players wondering if they'll still be able to bowl, bat, field, or whatever it was they weren't really that good at last year. But this year it seemed the basics of just seeing the ground were called into question, with Remnants veterans seeming to require all manner of optical devices to augment their failing eyes. Most impressive was Faruk, who came by to take some photos with what one can only assume his wife Heather accidentally purchased for him by clicking "add to basket" on the wrong website - but, mistake or not, the results (which you can see below) speak for themselves. There was also a certain amount of lens-rubbing induced by the vista that greeted players upon their arrival at Fitz: most of us perceived some sort of strange optical illusion by which this evening's strip appeared to be just a few metres from the pavilion, with the opposite boundary on the limit of vision; but this was no illusion, as some Remnants with NASA connections were able to verify by re-pointing the Hubble Space Telescope at CB4:
The asymmetry of the ground was reflected in the two teams' numbers, with Remnants initially out-numbering ARM, only for them to suddenly become quorate at which point it was agreed that they'd field. For our part we scurried around compiling a collection of reserve pink balls in the expectation that the new one would soon be deposited into one of the Oxford Road gardens: a hard-hit pull would see the ball on the road; and there was maybe even the chance of six leg byes - just imagine Geoff's glee at that.
Surprisingly, though, the new ball lasted the entire game: it seemed to cross the distant long boundary just as often; and there were only two sixes towards the pavilion. Pleasingly, they were both hit by our two star performers: Stephen Doel (25* retired off 22 balls on Remnants debut); and Temoor Khan (25* retired off just 12 balls, not quite on debut). The only other players to get into double figures were Seb Hammersley (16 off 25 balls, without ever quite getting into top gear) and Tom Serby (13 off 12 balls, who became the first batter of what one suspsects might be many this season to be run out backing up too far - no, not like that; it followed the bowler getting his finger to a cracking straight drive by Seb). For a brief spell ARM's two most experienced crickets, the ubiquitous Sumit and Adnan, kept us in check with a combination cagey flight and sartorial elegance, but our final total of 121/4 off 12 (eight-ball) overs felt like enough on what was now a pretty grey evening.
Half way through ARM's innings that was less clear: with the score on 58/1 after 6 overs they were basically up with the rate, and we were bowling and fielding a bit like people who hadn't played cricket in eight months. The ARM batters had been a bit lucky, with several near catches just flicking out-stretched fingertips (which then immediately became purple and swollen following contact with the now rock-like pink ball).
Still, this turned out to be our salvation, as we kept going for catches, and when some finally stuck that turned the game our way. Getting the ball rolling, so to speak was TK, who looked remarkably calm under a skier off the bowling of Naveen Chouksey (1/38). Thus inpsired, Daniel Mortlock at mid-on dived forward to pick up a flat drive an inch above the ground, giving our other debutante Tim Simmance (1/22) his first Remnants wicket. Daniel (3/25) then got paid back twice over, his spell of 3/23 including a jugging catch by Tom at mid-wicket and a hyper-alert stumping by 'keeper Marcus Baker after the ball kept low (albeit not off the wet patch). These dismissals were part of a hyper-eventful over during which a four was called by the spectators after Seb somehow stepped on the boundary line despite having run in to intercept the ball, and then an LBW appeal to a right-handed batter was somehow denied on the grounds that the ball had "pitched outside". (What the ball had pitched outside of was never revealed - although nobody seemed to believe it was the leg stump.)
Daniel's next over was also far from dull and contained what maybe was the key moment when the game finally swung decively in our favour. With 15 balls remaining in the game ARM were on 97/4, needing 25 runs with Adnan and Sumit reunited at the crease. Adnan smashed the next ball high and wide into a seemingly infinite and unpopulated cow corner, leaving Qaiser with a long chase and a big throw. Adnan was trying to herd Sumit through for a third or even fourth run, but the latter then lost confidence when he saw the ball coming in towards the bowler in an intercept position at mid-on. The result was both batters ending up at the bowler's end just as clear instructions came in for a throw to the 'keeper, who calmly completed the run out. (It was poor cricket - there were easily 3 runs on offer - although not the worst off this delivery, as the scorers then also failed to attribute the 2 runs that were successfully completed.)
After that it fell to TK (0/9) to finish things off, which he duly did with a minimum of fuss. Remnants thus opened their season with a solid win - first time we've managed that since 2018. And, maybe even more remarkably, the game was completed with sufficient urgency that bad light for once wasn't an issue.