This season has played out something like a B-grade horror film, with a seemingly sensible beginning leading into some unlikely disasters (in our case a month-long sequence of washed out games and huge losses) that culminated in a confrontation with the biggest monster of them all, in our case the mythical Xaar. Except that it turns out that a Xaar is not a many-tentacled horror, but just Rob Harvey's company and, rather than threatening to tear us apart limb by limb, they were merely hoping we wouldn't notice their non-regulation cricket gear.
Certainly they looked respendlent in their multi-coloured battleshorts as they strode into the field with the aim of repressing our irrepressible batting line-up. But we meant business today -- it had been nearly a month since we'd beaten anyone except ourselves, and Nick Clarke (46) and Faruk Kara (22) carved up the somewhat anarachic bowling, the score being 63/0 after just 5 (eight-ball) overs.
A middle order collapse followed, but it was sufficiently brief that the run rate didn't drop too much, and by the time Dave Williams (26, with yet more of his trademark late cuts), Mike Scanlon (15) and captain Dave Rowson (13, an innings also highlighted by several fabulous cut shots) all had their way, we'd made it to a mammoth 162/8. The bowling was pretty average in parts -- a few of the Xaarians had apparently ``never having played cricket before'' -- but this also made it impossible to get into any sort of rhythm. Indeed one reason for the cut being used to such effect was that it was the only way of reaching the wide balls that weren't being called very often (or, in one case, called and then retracted).
It was pretty clear from Xaar's fielding performance that there would be at most be token resistence, an impression that was only reinforced when one of their openers, upon being asked what guard he wanted, merely smiled awkwardly and took up a position about a foot outside leg stump. When further informed that, ``It's just that you're not in front of your stumps, mate,'' he apologised and shuffled even further away from his wicket. It was going to be a long evening . . .
. . . if only due to Dave Rowson's generous bowler-rotation, which allowed the opposition respite from the excellent (although not quite as unplayable as was being made out) spin of Robin Woolley (1/1) and Les Collings (2/2). They seemed likely to dismiss Xaar for about 15, which would have been fun to watch, but instead most of our team was given the chance to get amongst the wickets. Paul Henderson (1/11, the wicket being that of the only threatening batsman), Mike Scanlon (2/30), Nick Clarke (1/23, using a strategy, presumably of his own devising, based on a line two feet outside off-stump that bores the batsmen into slicing the ball to Faruk in the covers), and Daves Rowson and Williams (both 1/4) all tasted blood, leaving only the season's best bowler, Russell Woolf (0/13) wicketless for the evening.
Mr Watson demonstrates the correct fielding technique.
(Image sent in by Deep Throat.)
And all this despite yet another woeful fielding performance: other than Les's amazing bowled returns from the boundary line and Faruk's backwards-running catch at cover, the standard varied between marginally acceptable and completely rubbish. The absolute highlight was facillitated by Xaar leader Rob Harvey, who used his insider knowledge of the Remnants fielding skills to push the ball straight to shortish mid-on and run a mad single, safe in the knowledge that the throw would be wide and that he'd get a second run on the overthrow. What he didn't count on was a further misfield that damn near allowed a third.
Faruk prepares to dispatch another Xaar batsman.
(Image and caption sent in by Deep Throat.)
Anyway, a good time was had by all, with the Remnants chuffed to have finally won a game, and Xaar chuffed that lots of women turned up to watch them play. Maybe winning's over-rated . . .