The final final final game of the season today, a little friendly at Upton village, a very affluent settlement a couple of miles this side of Southwell, famous for its Horological Institute.
We played this corresponding fixture last year in warm sunshine, with butterflies and swallows plentiful up on the top of the hill. This year, it was grey, cold and windy, an autumnal scene nicely augmented by the mournful clanging of the out of tune bell on Upton church.
In comparison to other recent games, I was in a much better mood and able to field happily for over 20 overs without getting a bowl, helped by the knowledge I was being held back for the better Upton bats who were lurking down the order like hungry sharks. Our juniors got in with it early doors, and I was happily fielding - and fielding well - as the need arose. Even had two run out chances, both of which I missed of course.
Skipper's tacticts would have worked if I was able to bowl consistently, but the annoying habit of bowling 4 good, one indifferent and one terrible delivery an over that has plagued me the last month of the season cropped up again. I bowled some absolute screamers, quick swing balls that beat the bat and nearly took the stumps, and also some short balls on leg stump that got thumped.
I wasn't quite alone in this, the wind up there was making things rather difficult. But no wickets for me in my last game of 2017.
Chasing 160 on a very tricky wicket - you know it must be if I can get the ball going shoulder high past the batsman - I let my wonderfully welcome hot tea of pasta bolognese settle by taking walk round the rather peculiarly shaped Upton ground, and taking pictures of their slightly phallic looking logo.
In the wild rose hedges, I came across the most bizarre furry structure; a sort of red and green candyfloss of tendrils and wisps upon the bark of a very thorny bush. Turns out it is a Robin's Pincushion, a gall caused by a parasitic wasp. Swallows appeared, chattering twitteringly to each other, but we were losing wickets too regularly to enjoy the surroundings too long.
I ended batting at 8, and was feeling really confident, defending the ball with purpose, knocking it about - and then my young partner committed suicide and ran himself out - and looking to sttle in to make a score. Unfortunately, my habit of playing positively at the ball rather than dead bat means I tend to leave a hell of a gate between bat and pad, and an Upton bowler with a striking resemblance to Mike Gatting castled me through it.
Luckily, with 9 wickets down, the rain, and some very generous drops of our skipper, meant we got away with the draw.
I did enjoy it though, felt in much better mood and really enjoyed my fielding out there. Must work on that positive thing, and then really sort some consistency out with my bowling. Batting, I'm better than 11 but need to work out how I'm going to play.
Ah damn. No more cricket for months and months.
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 10.09.17