So, I awoke this morning fully expecting to be playing for the 3rd team at pretty Norwood Park against Whatton and Aslockton. But when I finally arrived at the ground after my lift had negotiated the terrible Newark traffic, a pensive looking second team skipper was there telling me he needed one of us after a late drop out.
I'm known for being a bit temperamental in these sorts of circumstances. OK a lot temperamental. But there was no choice, I had to go, even thought I knew it would result in a very different game for me.
So, off I went to Collingham to Dale Field, to play for the second team against Ellerslie 3s. Ellerslie are a huge club based in West Bridgford, and I seem to have played against lots of versions of this club. We beat their 4th team twice last year, and when they did finally arrive I noticed some familiar faces from last year.
They have lots of brothers and things, all of whom are very good, while I am not. I know I'm not good enough really to bowl at this level - too old, too inflexible, too talentless - and I'm not a good enough fielder or batsman to make up for it.
When they won the toss and batted, on a pitch seemingly designed to be rather tragic for a team that was rather rusty with the ball thanks to the awful weather, we all knew it was going to be a very hard day, under a strong hot sun.
And so it proved.
They got themselves to 219 for 4 without ever really struggling, but without ever really getting away. There was a few of us oldies in the field, and we did really well to keep the runs down. I was actually pretty ok fielding, thank god that area of my game has improved.
But when I did bowl, late on against a batsman who was 80 not out, it just didn't happen. It was my usual thing - potential wicket taking deliveries mixed in with the one ball that drifts onto leg stump and gets clobbered, and a wide. That's to say, one ball I nearly cleaned up Mr 80 not out with a lovely inswinging yorker, the next ball I drifted a low full toss onto leg stump and he'd thwack it miles.
But you can't get away with inconsitency at this level like I can in the 3s, and I felt a bit short of pace despite getting the ball to swing and seam a little bit. I wish I could bowl quicker. I wish I was stronger. I wish I had a better throwing technique!
Anyway, I we made it through, hot and tired, and were revived by tea and good sandwiches. And some weirdly sticky sausages and open egg sandwiches that were blasphemed by the presence or turmeric or some other red spice. I found the taste a bit wrong for a cricket tea.
Anyway, you lot like nature, and of course when we batted, my normal batting position of 11 - I don't think I'm that bad! - meant I had plenty of time to walk around and take in the sights.
I had noticed swallows over the ground while I was fielding, but only the one butterfly, a small tortoiseshell, drifted by, as did a heavier and buzzier queen buff tailed bumble.
But it was the distinctive cry of an oystercatcher making its way to the nature reserves that was the find of the day. While our wickets fell against very good bowling, it flew over the ground making its piercing peeping cry, attracting the attention of the scorers. There was lots of other birdsong in the hedgerows too. The apple blossom smelt sweet but not sickly, and heavenly by comparison to a hot dressing room with 11 men in it.
Eventually, I got to bat, and I thought I looked pretty good in my 3 ball innings of one not out.
Another week, another game! Always looking for that cricketing nirvana...
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 05.05.18