Went to play cricket at Collingham today, a ground I have played at many times for our third team on the back pitch, but never as we did today, on the main ground with the posh lighty-up scoreboard, old dressing rooms and - YES! - a bar.
This match was a late substitution for a trip to Car Colston cancelled due to a wedding and covid infecting their side, so Collingham stepped in with a side mainly consisting of young kids, three senior players and, most intriguingly, Collingham's Premier League overeas professional from Sri Lanka.
I had looked up his stats before the game. He averages 44 with the bat in first class one day cricket, and 22 with the ball. Back in Sri Lanka, he plays with Sri Lankan test players in the 20:20 league. He also plays in Australia in first grade cricket, again probably with a few test players around.
Up against this we had a few of our own very good junior players, three good adult ones, and me, past it in the cricket sense and unable to play a single game with pulling at least three muscles in each game. I never go to practice any more; practice means not playing at the weekend.
Practice never makes me any better anyway. I am peak rubbish.
Anyway, at last we won the toss so I didn't have to do anything at all for a couple of hours, which suited me just fine. Let the kids get on with it, and so they did for the best part of 30 overs while I wandered around, or shouted (vacuous) supportive comments.
Actually, I tell a lie. I umpired for a little while and found myself having to work out who to give out in a tricky run out situation, leaving a rather unhappy junior player. Ouch. But one has to be neutral and obey the laws of the game, says the umpire who said "Top shot" if anyone hit a 4.
I retired myself at drinks. Acting as co-captain, one can do this. Besides, the wind was pretty strong and was nearly blowing my hat off.
Our innings progressed, the young, and slightly older, lads going very nicely apart from one lad making his senior debut who got rather over-excited and tried to destroy the ball every shot, until getting bowled for a duck.
His time would come later.
Our best bat got 50 and retired after a nice innings, and then muggins here went out to bat at number 10. Immediately Collingham must have been scared of my reputation, because the professional was immediately brought on to bowl to me.
He was bowling leg spin, and I've never faced anything like it in my life. Not only was he making the ball spin about two feet off the wicket, he was bowling at the pace of a second team opening bowler. I watched the first ball just blow past my off stump having pitched on leg; if I'd tried to play a shot at it I would have got nowhere near it. The second ball bounced chest high and I somehow managed to turn it to deep square leg for a single, god only knows how.
When I got to face him again a couple of balls later, I managed to hit him for 2 to long on. Facing a bowler like this was fascinating.
I was facing the last ball of the innings next over, have a massive swipe at the ball and missed it, and somehow we ended up scoring 6 byes, in a farcical bit io piggy in the middle fielding that ended up with the ball being thrown for 4 over the scorched outfield.
It's a beautiful ground Collingham, but on the day it looked more like it was in Spain rather than Nottinghamshire.
So 183-9, 184 to win for Colllingham. It became clear very early on that we were going to have a bit of a problem, as the Collingham batters were in some cases very very young and playing their first senior game, so after reducing them to about 40-3 after excellent opening bowling spells from our young opening bowlers, we had to alternate between bowling full tilt and bowling off a single pace run. Some coped better than others with this, the fact I was hit over the main road into a garden indicated that I didn't.
I'd not bowled in a match in a month, and it showed.
Retiring at 50 meant the first gun bat Collingham had was retired, but then we had another one to deal with, a player from their second team who beasted me a couple of times, and battered our spin bowlers before falling to an excellent delivery that cramped him for room that he could only spoon to mid wicket.
Two overs left. 10 runs needed. Our captain was hit for 4, a catch was dropped and our otherwise excellent young keeper missed a stumping, before managing to get the stumping a couple of balls later.
Last over. Three runs needed by Colligham. Pro waiting to come into bat. Young bowler in his first game having to do the business. Wide. Bye.
Scores level. Last ball.
It went through to the keeper. No wide signalled. Match a tie!
There may have been a bit of umpires discretion in that one, maybe a lot, but it didn't matter. THe object of the day was to get young kids a good game, and with inly 8 adults on the pitch out of 22, we had delivered in spades.
Many thanks to Collingham for getting such a good game on.
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.07.22