Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Ah yes, the "Art of Captaincy"

 With a few players missing, it was left to me to organise and captain a side to travel out to play Cropwell, a very very village team in the pretty village of Cropwell Butler, home both of stilton cheese and legendary Notts and England player Derek Randall.

"Rags", as he was always known, does occasionally trundle down to the ground to watch the odd game, but he didn't on Sunday. I don't think he would have been very impressed if he had done.

The ground itself was in a lovely rural setting with sheep bleating around the ground and various country byways criss crossed the site, which had an admittedly rather algae filled pond and was also designated as a nature reserve. The fantastic little scorebox would you make you think cricket had been played here for hundreds of years, but in fact they used to play at a colliery ground and have only been here for about 12 years. 

Seeing as we had arrived early for the game, and apparently looked like first team players - yes, me included - we were invited to bat first, at last, and so our somewhat makeshift side ranging in age from 12 to mid 70s had to suffer me inflicting a batting order on it. 

So, our 75 year old give or take first team umpire went out to bat with our 17 year old first team opening batter, with strict instructions about running between the wickets. The fact it was a 30 over game meant we would be retiring batters at 50, which doesn't go down well in all quarters apparently, but we do want to try and get everyone into the game.

The bowling was a lot friendlier than I was expecting it to be, making re slightly regret changing my mind about opening the batting myself. But it was reasonably accurate and not that easy to get away, although our young opener made a good first of it. Our umpire was stumped after 8 overs and 4 runs, raising his eyebrows a little at the decision, which I felt to be slightly ironic, and then our young keeper joined in, and runs began to come very quickly. 

We were 65 for 1 at drinks, and I gave the instruction to push on a bit as I knew Cropwell batted better than they bowled, and I wanted at least 160 on the scoreboard.

This they proceeded to do, until the keeper got out for 29, heavily annoyed as he was hoping for a 50 himself. The opener retired on 50, but we had some more young middle order firepower, helped by our star second team bowler, fresh off 9 wickets in two matches, who also knows how to wield the willow. 

Things went smoothly until about two overs to go, where my organisational ability fell aprt somewhat. I retired our number 5 on 35 to get a new bat in, but alas he fell first ball meaning I had to go out there with about ten balls left. 

I somehow managed to hack a run, but then the other batsman was bowled, and no-one was ready to come in, the chairman who had arrived late seemingly had no intention of putting any cricket kit at this moment in time, so we had to wait until we could get the 12 year old ready. In the meantime, our number 5 was unretired; he played an outrageous reverse ramp for 4 then got out.

I was trying some desperate hacks to try and get the young lad on strike for the last two balls, which I manaaged. He missed the first, but hit the second straight to the bowler.

I told him to run anyway, hping the bowler wouldn't run him ut, and he chose not to, for which I thanked him.

A bit chaotic, but we had indeed got to exactly 160. 

Now for the real test of captaincy. The fielding. 

I'd removed one difficulty, i.e. when to bowl myself, because I had hurt my already injured back the first time I had tried to wave the bat. The opening bowlers were easy, firstly it was the two players who hadn't batted, and secondly because the chairman would banish me from the club if I didn't let him bowl first.

It did not take long for me to realise that my hunch that Cropwell batted better than they bowled was entirely correct. They knew their wicket, they just put their hands through everything and smashed through extra cover. 

I was fielding at extra cover, and was fielding so badly I was banished to slip and replaced the the senior player we were hiding there. I just couldn't get near the ball, my co-ordination was hideous. Everything went straight through me while I got my legs in a tangle. 


Without any actual idea of what to do out there to stem the runs, or even if there was anything anyone could do, I had to bring our gun bowler on but he went exactly the same way. The chairman was nearly getting wickets when he switched to his googly bowling but was still getting taken for boundaries. 

He insisted he was not to be taken off until he'd bowled out though. 

We did get the gun bats though, through superb outfield catching involving very loud shouting of names. And it turned out the other bats weren't as good, no sirree and we managed to drag ourselves back into the game after they had racked up 100 after just 12 overs. Our number 5 was bowing an excellent spell to go with his batting; wickets were falling, but the runs were creeping up. Our 12 year old got a good little bowl, and took a wicket too so that was a bonus. 

I wish I could say I knew what I was doing out there, but I didn't, not really. However with 6 wickets down, two overs to go and 4 runs needed, I did do something reasonably captain like, by bringing everyone in and trying to make the batsman hit over the top to win the game. And it worked too! Two batters got themsevles out trying to hit the winning boundary, and the next two were very nervous.

However it was not to be, Cropwell managed to pierce the infield and that was it.

However, it had been an excellent and very friendly game, entirely worthwhile to take part in and at 30 overs it hadn't taken an eternity like last week's match had. This meant we were able to retire to the pub around the corner, where the opposition players took part in strange rituals involving drinking pints with batting gloves on.

Hell's teeth, I'm clumsy enough as it is without doing that.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 23.08.22