Today I found myself in the lofty company of the Sunday 1st team, a team where rubbishy mortals on cricket's 3rd team compost heap get to meet with the Olympian heroes of the 1st team, cricketers who are all the things I wish I was; young, talented, and possessing the ability not to panic when the bowling goes over ten miles per hour in pace.
We had a few such players today, and they were left with the job of, you know, scoring runs, while I took myself off to explore the ground.
It was the Goosedale Ground at Hucknall, where we were playing Notts and Arnold Amateurs, a title which creates charming images of WG Grace smoking a pipe while batting while Robert Peel warmed up for bowling by knocking back a few more G and Ts. However, the ground itself was a big municipal sports multiplex; great for playing cricket, terrible for nature spotting for the bottom of the order of the batsmen like me.
So after I had a look round and found absolutely nothing alive at all apart from a few flowers, I wondered if a hearty diet of pesticide for the greenery had made the ground sterile; inimical to the insect life that sits at the base of micro ecosystems like a cricket ground.
Even with the sun out, I only saw one bee fly past, and a kestrel hovering over the edge of the complex was the only bird I saw, apart from a carrion crow on the lookout for leftover teas from the pavilion.
Very good tea by the way, well done Notts and Arnold Amateurs! Perfectly timed to coincide with Andy Murray's victory.
My batting was not required, a mercy for all concerned although I do try hard, and instead I spent 20 overs umpiring with a team-mate in a beard and flat cap who had chosen to disguise himself as DH Lawrence for some reason. I had to adjudicate on a run out, which I gave not out in an assertive manner - "Errrrr, na-eerrrr-aaaa" while shaking my head while wishing there was a replay facility somewhere.
HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW??? IT HAPPENS TOO BLOODY FAST!!!
We made 151 for 3 in our 40 overs thanks to our first team stars - the highest score I've ever been involved in - and we still lost in a little over 20 overs as our opponents turned out to be pretty hefty smiters of a cricket ball, despite my hitherto unexplored ability to bowl head high full tosses by accident. For once, I wasn't the worst bowler and even took a wicket, when I had their biggest hitter caught at long on.
Wish I was quicker though, when a keeper stands up to my bowling, it makes my heart sink. Oh well, a 43 year old coming back to the game after 20 years out was never going to be Wasim Akram.
It was actually a fun day, despite the loss. When a skipper lets you bowl, always makes you feel better about things.
And the sun came out too!
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 10.07.16