Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The shock death of the Queen on Thursday notwithstanding, we seemed all set for a repeat of last year's Grannies fixture, with the promise of an opposition replete with young gun batters who were going to be late arriving . . . but with two key differences: Scotty was on our side today; and we hadn't played Fasopoly the night before.
The clear star early on was our young gun, Jamie Dare, playing his first game of cricket since injuring his hand taking a catch for Oxford's first team back in June. There was plenty of youngling-style talk about still being hurty, but this was soon revealed to be nonsense - or at least irrelevant: Jamie's opening spell of 0/8 from 5 overs was too good for The Grannies' top order; and he then backed this up with a couple of superb catches, highlighted by a sharp take low-down at gully. Jamie wasn't alone here as, while a number of chances went down, we held on to plenty more: 'keeper Chris Barras's took three catches, including a superb take off a lifter from Daniel Mortlock (1/27) after the previous delivery had shot through low; and Jim Streeter took a low (not just for him) grab at cover before almost following it up with a blinder in the same position. We also did well with the ball in hand: "baby giraffe" Ben Kittow (2/22) drew inspiration from the various spirit animals invoked, along with the ground-side statue of an African gorilla; Harry Houlder (3/21) took three wickets in his first 8 balls, making a belated - and hence futile - attempt to get the best bowler award; Cliff Dare (1/23) was unlucky to get just the one wicket (at least if his appeals were anything to go by); and FAS first-timer Adam Slater proved to be a quick learner by i) managing to ignore the repeated claims that he looks like Bill Murray, ii) quickly working out that full tosses are the best wicket balls and iii) carefully organising to have, like BK, figures of 2/22 on the 2022 For Two.
Between innings the two sides lined up on either side of the pitch for a minute's silence in honour of Queen Elizabeth's remarkable life. (There'd been talk of doing this at the 70-over mark to match her reign, but the fact that there was no guarantee of getting that far forced a re-think.)
Perhaps inspired by the Queen's remarkable ability to calmly do whatever was required of her, we managed the perfect friendly run chase: we kept up with the required rate for the entire innings; everyone who didn't bowl (and a few of those who did) got a decent bat; we only had to supply one umpire as the opposition had kindly provided one for the duration of the game; there was plenty of beer and cider on hand for those not needed in the middle; and the weather was just warm enough to make it comfy to sit around not doing much. After significant contributions both veterans Jim Streeter (39 off 39 balls) and Tom Hall (31 off 49 balls) and first-timer Slater (44 off 51 balls) we had a brief scare when David Amato, who'd bowled so well against us a year ago, began his spell with a wicket maiden . . . but we scored 21 fairly risk-free runs from his other 6 overs, suggesting the nervy countdown ("How many deliveries has he got left now?") wasn't really justified.
Our general edginess was manifested even more explicitly when Jamie Scott joined Joe White with 35 needed off 46 balls - there were sudden whispers that Joe was scoring too slowly (although his worst strike rate at any point of his innings was 60.00 when he was 12* off 20 balls). In fact, the biggest drama was at the scorer's table where, in scenes reminiscent of the morning's proclaimation where King (or was he still Prince?) Charles angrily growled at an aide to remove an errant pen, Joss's attempts to score and operate the electronic scoreboard were sabotaged by Siebs trying to access the obverse side of the scoresheet to jot down the first innings figures. The result was that the overs on the scoreboard were behind, meaning we were effectively telling our batters that they had 3 overs to score 7 runs rather than just 2. Fortunately normal service was soon resumed, after which Jamie (15* off 10 balls) got us to the brink of victory, leaving Joe (21* off 29 balls) to finish the game with a boundary off the first ball of the final over.
After that all we had to do was head across the road to the local pub, which had changed for both the better and the worse in the last year. The better: there was no longer the smell of human excrement in the beer garden. The worse: a G'n'T with a locally distilled gin cost a tenner.