Coming into the home stretch we were all set up for two must-win games against Cambridge Granta's fifth team: despite technically being "home and away" fixtures, both were to be played at Fitzwilliam College's playing grounds, and so it seemed were going to have a great end the season in familiar territory.
But then Andy got a call on Friday evening from the Granta secretary saying that they were going to have to forfeit the game as they couldn't get a team together. In league terms this counts as a win; assuming Weston Colville could beat last-placed Milton today, the equation for the final match would be very simple: get at least 6 points against Granta in two weeks' time and win the league. Except that Weston Colville lost to Milton III by 54 runs, a rather unexpected result that is maybe partly explained by the presence of a couple of Milton's first-team players in their side today. Weston Colville's league average thus dropped to 16.42 and can only get as high as 16.93 even if they win their last two games; our league average is currently 18.92, and even if we got no points against Granta in some horror loss, we'd only go down to 17.46. So, in case you haven't worked it out already: Romsey Town has won the 2009 CCA Junior 4B league title.
That will clearly require some celebrating after (and at!) our final game in a fortnight's time, but of course nobody knew about this on match day, when the main effect of the cancellation was that a dozen players, a sunny afternoon, a hearty tea and a great ground all seemed likely to go to waste. Hence a massive two-man rescue operation was mounted, Daniel utilising the powers of the internet while Andy, ever a traditionalist, manned the phones (as distinct from "mounting" them, as was suggested in a potentially libelous early draft of this report). The result was success: by Saturday morning a total of twenty-two players had been acquired to play an impromptu double-innings Twenty/20 game between Romsey Town and it old neighbour and rival, Remnants:
Remnants batted first and scored steadily against a tight but unpenetrative Romsey bowling attack. Oliver Rex (0/18) and Winker Watson (0/11) were both suitably economical, but we didn't get a breakthrough until Jon Steele held the first of his four catches for the day. The successful bowler was Dave Clark, who went on to take 3/24 and thus prevent a total blow-out, Remnants finishing up with a merely respectable first innings total of 129/6.
Romsey's first innings began disastrously as we collapsed to 28/5 as sometime Romseyite Russell Woolf destroyed our top order in a spell of 4/13. This included getting Rod Dennis (15 off ?? balls) out stumped after Nick Clarke (also playing for Remnants) had goaded him into coming down the track, in the mode of Andrew Flintoff successfully inciting Tino Best to "mind the windows" at Lord's a few years back. We managed something of a recovery thanks to Jon Steele, who hit a superb 56* (off ?? balls), but it was no surprise that we went to the tea break trailing (by 12 runs) on the first innings.
After having refuelled, however, it was a different story, as Richard Rex (0/20), Edmund Rex (0/14) and Catherine Owen (1/14) stifled the Remnants batsmen in their second innings. They seemed on the verge of rescuing their innings much as we had, but then Andy Owen (3/20) and Rod Dennis (3/15) dismissed most of the rest of the team, with Rod in particular delighted to bowl Daniel with his first ball and then get his revenge on Nick a few minutes later. In the end Remnants were lucky to last their 20 overs, finishing up on 114/9.
That meant we needed 132 to win and, to cut a long story short, we never looked like failing in that endeavour. Oliver Rex (39 off ?? balls) and Jon Steele (34 off ?? balls) stuck the knife in and then Edmund Rex (22* off ?? balls) twisted it with some huge shots to take Romsey to a five-wicket win.