Today was the first day of the new cricket season for me, an away game at a lovely ground behind Belvoir Castle. I was full of nerves last night, sitting in the pub unable to read my book on quantum mechanics for the whole terrible fear of it.
What if I was called upon to try and score the winning run, or take a steepling catch to ensure victory? Would my bowling be hostile?
As it happened, none of these issues would arrive.
The first thing I noticed at the ground, apart from the fact that unlike our main ground it wasn't a bog, thrilled me to the proverbial marrow. Above, a red kite was soaring in the strong wings, great long wings extended, steering with its forked tail.
"We get a lot of those" said an opposing player as we watched it.
You tend not to realise how big these birds are. You imagine their falcon-ish wingform, and think they will be the size of a peregrine, or something similar. They are not, they are huge, larger than a buzzard - of which there were also plenty keening around the ground - with a mastery of the air even their ragged brown cousins don't seem to have.
One of them got me out. I think.
We had done well to restrict the opposition to just under 200, with my bowling sadly not required due to our need to blood youngsters. I did hurl myself around the field, making only a thousand or so misfields, and the thermal vest kept the cold out if not the rain.
The problem was with our very inexperienced batting line up. We just didn't have an answer to two young quick bowlers who went through us like sabres. Nose bleeding at 8 in the line up, I was trapped at one end against a 14 year old kid I was making look like Wasim Akram. I just about fended him off for a few overs, glancing a nice 4 in the process, when the sight of another red kite low above the ground took my attention.
"I love your red kites" I said to the crouching pack of slip fielders, and prepared to face the next delivery. Big inswinger, couldn't get my feet moving, and my skipper gave me out LBW.
All out for 40. Oh dear oh dear.
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.04.16