With high availability for our three league sides for a change, we found ourselves in the position of being able to put an actual 4th XI for the first time in my 9 seasons at the club.
A game had been arranged with Caythorpe, a local premier league club with a huge player base, who like to give their younger kids every chance to play, like we do. Although it has to be said our side wasn't the youngest one I've ever played in - our juniors are now too good to be playing at our level, although we did have a good young lad, and a couple of very good women from our successful ladies side.
We found ourselves batting first, on a day or blazing sunshine, butterflies, and birdsong. No umpires for this game of course, so I found myself out there from ball one with my nice panama hat on.
In truth it was pretty enjoyable, the Caythorpe players were polite, and fun, and also rather good. Their Ray-ban sporting opening bowler got a lot of swing, and soon I have to give one of our openers out plumb LBW. Our number 3 got bowled by a scorcher of a Waqar Younis style inswinger, and our surviving opener freely admitted he was batting by numbers while sporting a beard a Soviet era dissident would have been proud of.
Our captain got unlucky, a young lady was bowled, and the opener fell to brilliant catch behind; sadly for him this now meant he had to umpire instead of me. Sadly for our team, this mean the prospect of me having to bat was looming, although a great performance from our broken fingered number 5, and our other lady player, meant this didn't happen until the last over, where I was able to hack a single from the one ball I faced.
Strike rate of 100.00. Seeing it like a watermelon.
So, onto bowling and fielding, and I was much heartened to get a gentle ripple of applause for managing to stop a hard hit through the covers early on, and indeed I achieved a rare average standard with my fielding. Same with my bowling really, a first over where I dragged my off-spin down too short was followed by a perfectly reasonable one where I beat the bat a couple of times and only went for two runs, alas I was then taken off.
Harsh, I thought at the time, but events would prove the skipper right I guess.
Caythorpe, meanwhile, had been cruising to victory, but our broken fingered first team star now replaced me to bowl rather better than I did while I fielded out in the deep in birdsong corner. He took three quick wickets to give us some hope, while our lady cricketer took a wicket at the other end. But eventually, with about five wickets down and a couple of batters retired, they levelled with our score of 137-9.
Events now took a rather strange turn. The scores were level for a fair few deliveries, at which point our Soviet dissident came onto to bowl. Third ball, he had the batter well caught at cover, only for Mr Ray-Bans to announce that everyone had got changed and no-one wanted to change back into whites again, so he was declaring their innings over.
We had tied the game, and I'm still unbeaten this year!
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 29.05.23