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Remnants vs. Watsonians

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Fitzwilliam College

Remnants (159/6; 20 six-ball overs)
Watsonians (142/6; 20 six-ball overs)
by 17 runs.

Three cheers for me! Today I played my hundredth Remnants game and, by way of celebration, I've decided to eschew my usual attempts at balanced reportage in favour of a more subjective approach. Moreover, this web-site is a dictatorship and what I say goes; hence if you're not in the mood to indulge me read no further. You have been warned.

We were up against the Watsonians today -- yes, another Phil-led team -- and he was up to his old tricks even before a ball was bowled, teasingly asking ``Oh, you're taking this seriously?'' when he saw that we'd adopted the ``radical'' cricket tactic of opening with two of our better batsmen. All very well for him to say when i) he knows our line-up backwards and ii) his team would be batting with full knowledge of just how fast they'd have to score. Credit where credit's due, however, as he did share the bowling around, giving all ten of his outfielders two overs each.

At any rate our openers put on an excellent 73-run stand off about 50 balls: Andrew Lea made a glorious 52, highlighted by some exquisite pulls and sweeps; and Andy Owen (20) was actually dismissed for the first time this year, finally getting a season's average (212.00, since you asked). Not that his dismissal had any impact on our scoring rate, Julius Rix smashing a brutal 55, and getting the day's biggest round of applause as we decided to keep clapping his half-century until he finally worked out that we weren't just congratulating him on another excellent pull shot. James Morgan was dead unlucky to be run out without facing a ball, having responded to his partner's duff call, but Martin Law (13) helped the two half-centurions to make scoring in the little blue book far from easy.

In the end Phil himself was the only bowler to triumph, with a closing spell of 3/11, and would have had the last laugh but for the insanity of the final ball of the innings. Guy Wiedermann called John Young through for a rather risky single -- John just made it home, but one of his pads came loose in the process. Both batsmen relaxed for a second, but the animalistic baying from the boundary forced them to grab what would have been an easy overthrow but for the fact that John was almost immobilised by his recalcitrant protective gear. There was another shy at the stumps, more lax backing-up, and then more impassioned screaming from the boundary to steal another run. But the batsmen had had enough, and so walked (or hobbled, in John's case) from the ground having taken us to a very healthy 159/6.

Phil might have mixed his bowlers around, but his batting order had a decidedly ``proper'' feel to it, and the Watsonians scored at more than a run a ball from the outset. I wanted to share our bowling around as Phil had, but decided to wait until we had a little breathing space. After Les Collings (1/27) and Mike Jones (1/25) had both gotten important wickets the Wasonians needed about 100 runs off the last 11 overs, but then the turn-coats Nick Clarke and Phil Watson began to score at more than the required rate of 9 an over. Lots of boundaries came from loose balls, but what really kept them in touch were the cheeky quick singles and absurd second runs and, subjected to this pressure, our fielding crumbled.

The game was fast spiralling out of control, but reached a nadir when Nick got a top edge to a high full toss and was well caught by Guy Wiedermann, only to be reprieved when, after an all-in debate, the umpire signalled a no ball. Mad enough, but then Phil called his partner through for a sly (if perfectly legal) single when, in the confusion, the ball had been left unattended at mid-off.

Everyone realised things had gotten a bit far by this stage, and the rest of the game proceeded in a more sensible fashion. The batsmen were still scoring with ease, but we were finally starting to get our fielding right. Julius, James, Martin and Les all protected their boundaries well, the latter pair combining for a fine run out when Les hurled in a big throw from the long boundary and Martin cleverly deflected the ball onto the stumps.

I would also have joined the ``run out'' club but, having made a good stop, I narrowly missed the stumps with a little underarm lob, only to hear Phil shouting that I should have watched how he'd done it earlier in the game. Galling indeed, at least until I made a near-identical stop two balls later and this time was on target, much to Phil's chagrin.

With the Watsonians needing 21 off the last six balls we really had the game won, but it still seemed too close to relax, so I made Andy take off his wicket keeping gloves and bowl the final over. This also had the personal fringe benefit of allowing me to fulfil my long-held fantasy of having a go behind the stumps myself, even if only for an over, but at least it was an eventful tenure. Andy ensured the victory by getting two wickets (taking his week's figures to an awesome 6/14), while I managed to drop an outside edge that would have seen Andy on a hat trick, before redeeming myself by taking a near-identical catch off the final ball. So, even if I had to wait 239 deliveries, I did get my name in the scorebook in the end.



Me! Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!

Sorry -- got carried away for a moment there. Now, where was I? Oh yes . . .

Walking off the field we were all a bit wrung out after the Watsonians had made such a good attempt at chasing our big total, but I think that made the team nature of the victory all the more satisfying. Overall some fifteen Remnants could feel proud of their performances: the eleven of us, obviously, as well as Phil Watson (3/11, 24 and a direct hit run out), Nev Fidler (the catch of the day as well as the prized wicket of Andy Owen), Nick Clarke (70*) and Tom Jordan (0/13 amidst otherwise heavy scoring), who all put in good days' work for the opposition. As always Remnants seem to excel when playing against their own team -- if only Nick scored seventies and Phil took three-fors when they were playing for us . . .

Anyway, that's about all I have to say on the matter of Remnants vs. Watsonians. Thank you ever so much for reading down this far, and rest assured that normal service will be resumed next week.

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