Some cricket matches in April and May are remembered for the number of jumpers that needed to be worn, and our early season clash with longstanding rivals Remnants was one of those days. John Burnett appeared to be sporting at least three. It was in truly Arctic conditions at the picturesque Fitzwilliam college sports ground that our squad of 11, led by Rob Gill, gathered and were put into bat by the opposition.
Fresh off the back of another match winning innings at Chippenham, just three days previously, Gill took the first ball and bludgeoned a very rapid 12 before being caught at mid-off in the second over off the bowling of Long. This was against the run of play. This brought fresh faced, competent looking Old Persean John Howe to the crease to join Cassels B.
In the face of some quite mixed bowling on an excellent college batting deck, Cassels and Howe put on a brisk 107 for the second wicket before Cassels departed for 80 having made the most of the quick outfield and short legside boundary. A few steepling catches went down. Pimblett took a catch off the pavilion roof. I could have sworn I saw a polar bear stroll across the outfield at one point (although it equally could have been John White, our umpire for the day).
With our side stuffed full of talented academy members, when Cassels inevitably succumbed to a top-edged slog off the bowling of Rix, The Philanderers still had our very own Keaton Jennings in the form of Paul Leary to stride in at four. He did what he needed to do and immediately and effortlessly ran out Howe, his batting partner after the latter’s initially fluent 38 had become difficult to watch, his fine technique crumbling amidst the ungainly slogging.
This brought club stalwart Charlie Pearson to the wicket and Charlie is too classy a bat to indulge in the kind of mooing that the situation demanded. Some nice shots from Leary (including a wonderful straight-batted six over the sightscreen) and some plinking and clothing from CP saw us to a strong total of 177 for 3 off our 20 overs. Charlie’s scratchy 4 not out, uniquely featuring a defensive shot in the final over of the innings rightly drew some abuse from the Philanderers dugout, with Captain Gill spitting that we had not posted his desired 200. Leary did his average no harm with a robust 32 not out.
With more jumpers put on we went out into the gloomy, icy wilderness and set about defending our total. We had a strong opening attack featuring John Burnett on 302 career wickets and (the equally athletic) Josh Holmes steaming in like a young, less sweaty Shoaib Akhtar and sending the ball down at searing pace. With some streaky edges, some quite determined biffing and a four let through the legs of Howe at long on, Holmes was perplexingly expensive, his four over costing 38 runs despite not bowling many bad balls. Thankfully the miserly Burnett sent down four comparatively cheap overs to take 1-25 to show that there really is no substitute for decades of bowling on the hard college grounds.
Rob Gill is a truly a captain with a Fuhrer-esque ruthless streak, and made no apology for posting boundary sweepers at all times, suffocating the opposition and giving us the smug upper hand.
Despite this, the opposition were off to a relatively flyer (hitting down the ground where there were no such sweepers) and the Philanderers were rattled, there was no doubt about it. Hegarty quite literally threw himself off his feet and tumbled to the ground whilst executing a regulation throw into the keeper from square leg and the wretched Holmes didn’t quite manage to hang on to what would have been a truly spectacular diving catch.
Midweek legends Hegarty and Hugo White were called upon to stem the flow of runs and they did this with aplomb, both also managing to outperform the unfortunate, hapless Holmes (2-28 and 1-28 respectively).
The Philanderers held our catches (or rather our dollies) and opposition wickets tumbled fairly regularly. With eight overs to go and still almost a hundred runs needed, it was deemed safe to throw the ball to Cassels R on a rare but not unprecedented Philanderers appearance. He sensationally started with a beautifully bowled wicket maiden to almost shut the door, before the Remnants four and six respectively (their two best allrounders) slogged a few boundaries to restore some pride to their score. Cassels R finished with 3-1-20-1 to cement Josh’s position as bowling ‘TFC award’. There was just time for Howe to let another one through his legs before that was that, Remnants creeping up to a respectable 152 for 4 and the Philanderers securing a 25 run victory.
The hardy souls retired to the ‘house which sells tinnies’ adjacent to the pavilion for a quick ale or two and then it was home for a cocoa by the fire and a hot water bottle.