So, Sunday saw our friendly side in a match against Bottesford from just over the Leicester border, a side I've never played before, but seemed to be on arrival a very nice bunch of lads, solid players mixed with a crop of very young juniors some of whom were playing their first senior match.
Against that, we had a strong side with a few first team players, and had been wondering how best as a team we could make the game "fair". Oh what fools we were.
As ever, the Sunday skipper lost the toss and this meant we were soon out in the field on a bright but windy day that would later turn into a glorious evening as the wind dropped at our really rather attractive ground.
Grown up bats came out for Bottesford to start with, and scored at a reasonable rate against our opening bowlers without ever really blasting the ball around. As ever, I was fielding at square leg, and although energetic and alert as ever (!) I struggled to actually field the ball with my hands, having it continually bash into my knees or ankles.
Feeling rather stiff, I also found out I was less flexible than I thought I was, and a fair few times bent time to field the ball, only to watch it go under my hand, in one case to the boundary for four.
It was down to our leg spinner-cum-wicket-keeper to make the early breakthroughs, with an LBW that was, and a caught behind that wasn't.
We had a brinks break after 18 overs, with the score for Bottesford on about 85 for 2 and what seemed to be their two gun bats at the crease. With a left hander at the crease and our new bowler, the leg spinner's brother who has never bowled in a match before about to bowl around the wicket, this led to the sight screen needing to be moved.
A usually very simple operation then turned into utter farce, as a combination of high winds making communication difficult, contributed to a situation where the two sight screen movers ended up attempting to move a fixed bench instead of the sightscreen.
"NO!!! NOT THE BENCH! THE BLOODY SIGHTSCREEN! THE SIGHTSCREEN!"
Despite this very loud assistance, the message still wasn't getting across and one of them came running back to the centre for further instructions, while the other attempted to lift the bench, and presumably its foundations, out of the ground to no avail.
Meanwhile our opening bowler, after a fine opening spell, had decided to field from the pavilion rather than his designated position of deep sqaure leg. This may have been related to operating a barbecue, but we aren't sure.
After drinks, as ever I was brought on to bowl as usual to the two gun bats of the Bottesford side, and didn't do too badly really, determined as I was to try and bowl with a bit more physicality and intent, which only half worked pace wise as the wicket keeper was still stood up to the stumps.
Meanwhile, a wicket had been taken, and this brought a very young man to the crease. The senior bat, a powerful left hander who slammed me through cow corner a couple of times but didn't do too much damage to my figures, proceeded then to bat with him for the best part of 15 overs, manipulating the strike while still giving him a chance to bat.
He certainly kept me out no problem, and indeed he batted right the way through to the end after the captain's son knocked over the left hander, but more young kids were on hand to score some runs too.
In the end they finished on 174 off their 35 overs, offering our batters a decent test without killing the game. It's the ideal sort of score for a friendly game of this nature to be honest, although we felt we were good enough to get it.
I went out to umpire as our brother openers went out to take on the young Bottesford bowlers, and so had the box seat view for some excellent batting. Indeed, they went on to make an opening stand of over 100, right up with the run rate, and so we felt confident enough to retire them both on 50 as we had some good young and older batters to come in.
Of course, this is when the wheels fell of, as it so often does for our Sunday side. Grown up bowlers came on, wickets fell, the scoring rate slowed up.
I still thought we'd win, until a couple more wickets fell leaving me standing at the side of the ground waiting to come in at number ten, a sight that filled no-one watching with any confidence.
"Headband man is here, the pressure's on!" the wicket keeper helpfully pointed out to me when I went in. Indeed it was, we needed about 20 off 9 balls, with me facing a rampaging left hand bowler.
It took me one ball to see, or rather not see, why he was rampaging, as he bowled the ball from over the top of the sightscreen and I never saw the ball until it was about a yard in front of me, a full toss that I flailed at and missed by miles as it clattered into the stumps.
The last 6 battters all scored 0 each. five of them to the left hander who got 5-13 in addition to his 50 earlier on.
Still, it had beena good game of cricket, and we are sure to play them again.
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 27.06.22