After weeks of having to worry about just getting eleven players on the pitch, today we had the opposite problem: who to leave out. Not only were we hence able to field a strong team, but it was a decidedly stylish team as well, the new club kits finally having arrived. Our "Trinny & Susannah"-style makeover didn't quite go to plan, however, as both Robin and Rod had to make do with their old gear - but this at least made it easier for scorers Nicky and Russell to identify them, whereas the rest of us apparently looked identical.
The general feeling of unity extended to our time in the field, where we put in one of the better performances in recent memory. Robin Eddington continued to make the gully position his own with a sequence of stunning reaction stops (which might have been stunning catches on another day, but the ball never carried); Adie Mellish made an impeccable series of diving stops to keep the batsmen to singles; and Nick Clarke was sharp and brave at short cover, not letting anything past. But probably top of the bunch was Olly Rex, who took two well judged catches and, in concert with 'keeper Nick Clarke, kept his head to effect an easy run out. A run out had long seemed inevitable, as the Cherry Hinton batsmen's calling was what might charitably termed "excitable"; combined with the fact that very few of them had spikes it was only a matter of time before someone got stranded mid-pitch. The only real surprise was that we'd had to wait until the 32nd over.
By this stage we were well and truly on top, an advantage that was pressed home most effectively by Andy, who'd taken off the 'keeping pads at drinks and then destroyed the Cherry Hinton lower order with a spell of 5/16. While it felt like we'd been in the ascendancy for most of the innings, with opening bowlers Daniel Mortlock (0/19) and Matt Commin (1/37) both very economical, the batsmen had fought well. Indeed, it was probably an even money game when Cherry Hinton had gone to drinks on 66/3, with their big "stand and deliver" man, Ankit Kaalia, cruising on 15* off just 12 balls. But first ball back he played an uncharacteristically insipid shot to a straight one from Robin Eddington (3/39) and the big threat was gone. (Russell and Nicky had joked that they'd put vodka in his drink, but Kaalia just laughed and said that vodka would have made him play better.)
Our delicious tea (provided by Roy's wife, Estelle) was even more appreciated as usual, as most of us had gotten decidedly cold during our time in the field, the conditions having varied between grey and miserable. But, suitably fuelled, we began our chase superbly - or, to be more accurate, Rod Dennis and Nick Clarke did, the rest of us taking every chance we could to cower in the pavilion. Nick got going first, timing the ball beautifully, while Rod, it was reported by the scorers, batted for 31 minutes and 17 balls before getting off the mark. Once the drought had been broken it began raining fours, Rod hitting 6 in his next 35 balls. By the time he was dismissed (for 39 off 57 balls) he'd almost caught up with Nick, although the main thing was that the two of them had put on a match-winning partnership . . .
. . . or so it seemed. Galvanised by this first breakthrough, the aforementioned Kaalia went on the rampage, taking 4/16 in 23 balls as he castled most of our top order (including, critically, Nick for a superb 55 off 60 balls). With another wicket falling at the other end we'd lost 5/29. Suddenly we were all rather more tense than had seemed plausible half an hour earlier and the Cherry Hinton players were correspondingly more excited, one fielder following each delivery with a chant of "well bowled well bowled well bowled well bowled good lines good lines good lines good lines" even after a wide. A few more good yorkers from Kaalia and we might have been in real trouble, but Robin Eddington (14* off 11 balls) and Matt Commin (5* off 3 balls) were up to the challenge - although they did provide the Keystone Cops moment of the day when Matt smashed a one-handed drive into the non-striker's stumps, the ball ricocheting to long-on while he and Robin stood rooted to the spot in confusion, rather than taking the easy single on offer. Fortunately, the tension was dissipated pretty quickly, a few loose balls being hit to the boundary, and in the end we won comfortably, with 76 balls (and 5 wickets) to spare.
Still, credit to Cherry Hinton who'd kept fighting 'til the end, getting themselves 5 bonus points for their troubles (thus putting our 1-point match a few weeks ago into its proper perspective). For our part, we played good aggressive cricket, bowling out the opposition for the first time all year and then chasing nice and quickly - which turned out to be critical, as a steady and potentially match-ending drizzle started a few minutes after the match was completed.