For the fourth year in a row six-a-side cricket came to Cambridge, although for a while it seemed that the tournament was going to be yet another victim of the weather during this wettest of summers. First scheduled to be played on the second May bank holiday, a non-stop weekend-long deluge ensured it was a complete non-starter then, but the shift to the back-up August bank holiday proved inspired, and we were blessed with near-perfect weather today. The result was a fantastic success, as some hundred people either played or watched during the day, and GBP 620 was raised to support The Fen Edge Association For Learning Disabled and Cancer Research UK.
The tournament was, once again, held at Fitzwilliam College's Oxford Road playing fields, although there was a change to a ``round robin'' format for the first time. This meant each of the six participating teams -- Cambridge Granta (defending champions), NCI, Remnants, Team Rex (Cambridge academic Richard Rex and his many children), Romsey Town and The St Radegund -- got five games and there could be no complaints about getting a bad draw. There were also vague plans for a final between the two top sides from the ``league'' stage, but in the end the last of the fifteen scheduled games wasn't completed until the sun was nudging the horizon, and sadly there wasn't time for any more cricket. Nonetheless, there was a clear winner, with hosts Romsey Town having gone through the day undefeated, while NCI, having defeated all the other teams bar Romsey, were runners up.
Along the way the main cricketing theme was total anarchy and, as might be expected with changed rules that saw wides and no balls worth 4, fours worth 6, and sixes worth 10, bat dominated ball for most of the day. The Romsey ``top order'' was so strong that they only lost 4 wickets all day, and several batsmen made half-centuries off twenty-odd balls. The biggest partnership was the 106 runs NCI's pair of Lewis and ``We Only Know Him 'Cos He Plays For Us Sometimes'' put on to set up the most comprehensive victory, a 55-run win against Remnants. NCI only came second in the ``silly names'' stakes, however, as The St Radegund had the likes of ``Sex Pest'', ``Shut Up'', ``Beard'', ``Bubbles'', ``Barely Legal'', ``Crushinator'' and ``Grand Master Flash'' turning out for them today (not to mention ``Jugs'' in the support crew). That made for a pretty strong contrast when they played Team Rex, whose scorecard read, hypnotically, R. Rex, E. Rex, H. Rex, F. Rex, and O. Rex -- it was just a pity they couldn't rearrange their batting order so that the first initials made up a rude word. There were a few rude words on the field, too, with some intense league rivalries being played out in miniature, not to mention a classic umpiring debacle when one batsmen was caught off a high full toss and, having not noticed the ``no ball'' call, headed back to the pavilion only to be run out by a somewhat opportunistic fielder. Fortunately sense (and the Laws of Cricket) prevailed and the batsman was reinstated, only to be bowled a few balls later. As with so much cricket, though, the day's best match was the lowest scoring, with NCI restricting Granta to just 39/3, only to slump to 4/3 themselves, before carefully nurdling their way to a 2 wicket victory off the penultimate ball.
Of course such dramas need to be played out in front of an audience, so many thanks to everyone who turned up today to play, umpire, score or watch. And even more thanks to those who kept the masses fed and watered, Rog Shelley and Malcolm Creek (with supplies from Andrew Northrop Butchers) providing the day-long bar-be-que, The Milton Brewery providing a keg of their finest real ale, and Jess Norman, Sophie Norman and Catherine Owen selling some 150 hand-picked apples to offset all the beer and meat (and raise yet more money for charity). The lion's share of the proceeds came for the now infamous raffle (this year's tickets being semi-distinguishable blue and green, along with ambiguous salmon/buff/orange), and prizes were kindly donated by Cromwell Newsagents, Cutlacks, David's Bookshop, David & Rachel Hair, Fulbourn Manor Nurseries, GAN Electrical, Green's Health And Fitness, Halls Of Cambridge, Heffers Booksellers, Hilary's Wholesale, Hobbs Sports, Kailash, Mickey Flynn's American Pool Hall, Tesco's, VB Trophies, and Yasrad Newsagents. The length of this list not only shows the generosity of these local busnesses, but also the sheer amount of work that Andy and Denise Owen have put in to organise this tournament, and no doubt The 2008 Cambridge Charity Six-A-Side Cricket Tournament will be even bigger and better (even if it could do with a catchier name).