Report by Daniel Mortlock:
An unexpected side-effect of last week's pair of wash-outs was to separate out the first week of short and dark games a kind of pre-season fever dream - perhaps we should always start our season on glorious mid-May evenings such as we were presented with today. Under a cloudless sky Fitz was looking as lush as ever: not surprising given the recent rain; although it turned out that the main cause was that Dave's ride-on mower had broken down and so he'd had to cut the grass with an orindary mower of the sort generally restricted to small gardens - the whole operation took five hours. Which is roughly how long it felt like it took the two sides to assemble this evening. Even though we started significantly later than planned we were all confident of getting in a full-length game, albeit with eight-ball overs, and there was no need even to consider starting with a pink ball - although we did have to use one in the end, having lost all the available red balls.
We got the first and only use of the new one of those, which was duly handed to Seth Aycock (playing his first Remnants game since 2019), who made superb use of it with a spell of near-perfect outswing. In a friendly like this we maybe should have taken him off after his two overs had yielded just the one scoring shot; but it was just too special to be able to set an eight-one field, with six behind square, all of whom had a superb view of the ball curving past the bat again and again. (The only questionable aspect of the field setting was whether John Moore was wasted at mid-wicket.) Seth's most remarkable achievement was that he somehow went wicketless - although his immaculate spell of 0/8 this evening increased his already comfortable lead on the Remnants worst strike-rate table, a record which looks like remaining an utter mystery for some time to come.
The rest of the bowlers did well, but with some perhaps predictable early season lack of consistency - most seemed to lose it for an over or so. Even if the bowling wasn't top-notch, the level of commitment in the field was very good, highlighted perhaps by Stephen Doel's diving stops and John Young and Naveen Chouksey repeatedly putting their bodies on the line - literally, in Naveen's case, as he ended up with a fractured finger. Girton did accelerate from their slow start, as evidenced most dramatically by a huge six that just missed Dave Norman's bathroom window, and were just about up to a run a ball until Daniel Mortlock (2/3) brought himself for the penultimate over for some more "wicket harvesting" (as per Ben's description from our previous game). For the final over it was a tricky choice between Paul Jordan and Faruk Kara, with 0/18 and 0/20 from their earlier two-over spells. Wicket-keeper Ev Fox was consulted for his cricketing knowledge, but in hindsight it was inevitable that the fact he's known Paul for most of his life would drive his decision - which was fortunate, as Faruk delivered a superb final over: he conceded just 5 runs and got a wicket courtesy of an effortless catch by Seth on the square boundary.
Setting out in pusuit of what we believed at that stage was a target of just 108 for victory, the instruction to the top order was that they could afford to see out at least one bowler, confident in the knowledge that there would be some inconsistency in Girton's attack. A reasonable strategy, as it turned out, albeit one that proved impossible to implement, as Girton's previously unseen opening bowler Patel kicked things off with a wicket-maiden and ended up with deserved figures of 2/11, having bowled both our openers. Simon Godsill (0 off 3 balls) could only shrug after he'd played a perfectly correct forward defensive to a ball that swung away to beat his outside edge and then seamed in to take his off stump; and James Robinson (15 off 16 balls) made it to Patel's final delivery, only to be castled off his pads. With Girton's other opener almost as miserly, our score of 27/2 after 6 overs was somehow one run less than Girton's Seth-restricted total at the same point of their innings.
Something had to change; and, fortuntely for us, it was the bowlers. Stephen Doel (41* retired off 20 balls) made full use of the welcome supply of loose deliveries, going to his retirement with a huge six that enforced the aforementioned change of ball colour (not as painful as it sounds). Seth (26* off 16 balls) then picked up where Stephen had left off, playing some lovely cuts that effectively ended the match as a contest . . . although with just a few runs needed there was suddenly the strange appearance of the scorer heading out to the middle: it seemed that Girton had only added one run for wides and no balls when recording our innings; and a re-count lifted their total from 107/4 to 114/4. The scoreboard was duly adjusted and the game continued on a little longer, although fortunately this adjustment didn't suddenly put our victory in doubt. Sure enough, in the penultimate over John Young (23* off 50 balls) finished things off with a nice leg glance to book-end his almost perfectly binary innings, a single 2 nestled in amongst an otherwise immaculate collection of 28 zeroes and 21 ones.