Today, we entertained Norwell at our home ground, in a game that very nearly didn't go ahead.
After all the rain yesterday, the outfield had dried up, but there had been no opportunity to prepare a proper wicket - the cut strip was saturated and unrolled and some at the club suggested the game should be cancelled because of this.
Luckily our Sunday captain didn't agree, and selflessly went down and sat on the moto-roller like a boss, going up and down until we had something that looked like a wicket. And he painted the lines on and stuff too.
No one would ever let me drive the roller, because they'd have deaths on their hands.
So we had a game to play, but we knew that the wicket would be a real pudding - you could almost put your finger through it, it was like plasticine. Hence we shortened the game to 30 overs a side from 40, because turgid wickets supposedly make for turgid cricket, and no-one fancied 6 hours of that even though the weather was ok.
So it proved when we batted. The ball scarely got over ankle high and came on so slowly it was impossible to time. The ball was hitting the back of the bat, the toe end, the edge...but hardly ever the middle. It took us 16 overs to hit a boundary, I think we only hit 3 in all, and only two of our bats got more than 20 it was that much of a struggle for them.
I had a good view of a lot of this as I was on waving my arms around umpiring duties, which I do very well. I like signalling 4, even though I only got to do it once. This of course is my only contribution to the batting side of things as I seemingly always have to bat at 11 and never have to go in. Hopefully I'll get a crack at some point.
We were never able to put pedal to the metal, and finished on 105 for 7.
Naturewise, chaffinches were giving it some hammer singing in the trees, and there were some interesting solitary bees kicking about on the dandelions. I got some good laps of the ground in, got to get to 20000 steps on match days!
We went out into the field with no idea of what the opponents were like as a batting side. However, you could quickly tell by looking who was going to be any good or not, and indeed one of the openers we all instinctively knew would have his stumps splayed by the first straight one he got.
It took him 4 balls, but our opening bowler proved us right.
Another wicket followed to our youngest player, who bowled extremely well on the day, but the two decent bats - one of them plays for Caunton in Division G on Saturdays where he recently scored 65 - dug in and eventually began to score a few runs.
The scoring of runs was largely aided by the appearance of yours truly coming on to bowl. I started horribly, unable to pitch the ball up, and the pea rolling balls were slapped into the outfield although thankfully the fact that the boundary seemed to be 200 yards away on one side stopped me from going for loads of boundaries. And when I did get the ball up, they were swatting the ball across the line for runs and when I threw one up outside off stump it got blattered for 4 through mid off.
I'm always a horribly slow starter at bowling, especially when I'm still very underbowled early season.
However, I did improve over by over, although frustrated at the lack of pace I have these days I was still able to swing the ball a little bit, and the best bat nearly inside-edged onto the stumps 4 times, adding to my frustration.
They needed 28 off the last ten overs and the game looked dead and buried.
It was my 5th over where it all started to happen. The gun bat out of nowhere, perhaps his own frustration at being unable to hit me out of the park, chipped me to mid on where our opening bowler took a great catch as the ball dipped on him, and then a few balls later I got the other good bat finally LBW as he swung across the line yet again.
He was really pissed off at the decision, but it was taking his middle stump out of the ground. I was pleased with my appeal as well, it was a down on one knee prolonged yell. It had to go on for a long time as it took an age for the umpire to get his finger up even though it was as plumb as a plum.
I thought that was my last over. I was wrong...
While all this was going on, and I was going for a few runs, the other bowlers were keeping it very tight. And as it turned out, I had prised the gate open, for our opening bowler returned and tore through the middle order who really did not look like cricketers at all. Our youngest did the same, and they weren't scoring any runs at all hardly.
There was much yelling and excitement on the pitch from us; I hadn't been involved in game this close for a long while.
At 97 for 8, they needed 9 off the last over. And guess who had to bowl it.
I've never bowled a "death over" before, and I wasn't exactly looking forward to bowling this one either. I'm not what you would call a "two spells" bowler, as I tend to stiffen up after bowling. Also, nerves.
I was bricking it, basically, and rightly so. My first ball was feeble and short and went for two. The batsman, who was their captain, then tried to launch one over the rope but only skied it mightily, but the catch was dropped. Next ball, yorker, just went for a single.
Then things all went to hell, as I bowled two horrible no ball full tosses in a row. I felt horribly resigned at this point, thinking I was going to cost us the game. Next ball however was just about ok and went for no run.
Last ball. 4 runs needed to win. The fielders scattered. I ran in, the batsman walked down the wicket, swung mightily...and missed the ball completely.
I had got away with it. I don't recall ever being congratulated so much on a cricket field.
So there you go. I'll never be consistently good, or indeed any good at all. But I have my moments on the cricket field here and there...
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 09.05.21