Monday 29 May 2023

Arise Ye Fourths!

 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

Friday 26 May 2023

Workplace Nature Catch Up

 The warm weather has not only brought bugs, buzzers and flowers out in the parks and gardens around the town, but also in our place of work, much to my delight.

Long term readers may remember that over the years, we have created wildflower mini-meadows at work, and also established a hundred metre stretch of uncut verge where he have had orchids in the past, and hopefully makes a space for insects to lay their eggs and find foodplants for their larvae. 

This had had a positive benefit, not only on increasing bio-diversity on campus, but also mental health. I find it wonderful to walk among the nature spaces I helped create, while planning where we can improve what we have. 

So lets see what we've had crawling and fluttering around the flowerbeds, starting with the first common blue I've seen this year. While the holly blues prefer the hedgerows, the common blue likes the low level flowers found elsewhere.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 26.05.23

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Making Furry Friends at the Cricket on World Bee Day

 Not having a match this past weekend, my role in proceedings was merely to spectate and watch in the sunshine while making the occasional jug of orange squash for the actual players. 

Thus I wasn't totally superfluous to requirements.

Of course, this gave me more of a chance to take in the nature at the ground, which was full of birdsong and flutterous comings and goings. A small white commotion in the grass intrigued me; it turned out to be a very smart white ermine moth struggling to get itself going.

Its wonderfully furry form gratefully enjoyed the warmth of my hand before gaining the energy to fly off about its business.

With it being world bee day, I off course wanted to find some buzzers and bumbles in action, so roamed the hawthorn blossom to track them down, with the bonus presence of a female orange tip butterfly. 

Our second team won the game comfortably, and the insects were pleased with the result. Maybe.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 24.05.23

Thursday 18 May 2023

The Magic Traffic Island

 Cycling home from work, I noticed that the council sown wildflower meadow on the McDonalds traffic island had burst into life again.

They first planted it in about 6 years ago, and since then it has flowered every year to varying degrees. However, after a couple of fairly dull years, the wet spring seems to have helped it and it looks rather nice this year. 

The corn marigolds they had initially seem to have died out, but we have poppies, cornflower and most obviously a thick covering of ox eye daisy. A few worker bumbles were at work.

It's not the romantic spot, but I'm rather amused by the though of setting up a small dining table with champagne and nibbles, and having a black tie dinner for two on there. It would kind of look like a Pink Floyd album cover.

Whether we'd survive the exhaust fumes, however, is a coin toss.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 18.05.23

Monday 15 May 2023

Spatial Awareness? Body Sense? Naaahhhh.

 Sunday saw me leading our friendly cricket side against Wellow Exiles, at our home ground, and golly was it difficult to get a side out there; I only managed to get the final three players on the morning of the game. 

It was a strong, if mixed side, much bolstered by the arrival of the senior first team bat wanting to try his hamstring out in the middle, and rather younger than our opponents, who also included an extremely good amputee para-cricketer as well as some rather older chaps. 

They knew we were probably a bit better than them, which is why on a beautiful sunny afternoon they won the toss and asked us to bat first in order to have a longer day out.

We had one umpires, but no square leg and with our team as ever eager to help out, it was left to me to stand out there for the first twenty overs feeling my face start to burn. However, this did give me a close up opportunity to watch aforementioned opening bat give a masterclass in how to bat with a very good and technically correct junior, raising an opening stand of about 100. He went all Gordon Greenidge after his hamstring twinged, and battered 22 off an over at one point, no longer wanting to do much running.

He was out for 94, sticking a full toss down deep square legs throat. A great pity. 

After that, batting became harder on a slow deck, against bowling that was straight if nothing else, the para-cricketer being especially hard to get away. However, our number six brought the sixes, assisted by one of our junior bats playing his first senior game who took huge wipes at everything and managed to belt a four at one point. 

We closed on a competitive 179-5 off our forty overs. Objective A achieved as captain. Also managed to watch one of the resident buzzards get chased around by crows, and orange tips and brimstones were at the ground too. 

Now onto the fielding.

Very conscious of who hadn't batted, and the juniors that needed to have a full game, I devised a strategy - a very obvious one - that the good bowlers would operate from the top end with the short leg side boundary, and the young lads would bowl to the long leg side boundary at the other end, as would myself in all my hopeless glory. 

And it worked.

While our senior opening bowler was literally far too good for any of the Wellow players to get a bat on, he went unrewarded. However our other junior playing his first senior game, after a nervous start, wiped out Wellow's top order in five overs, taking three wickets and was on a hat trick at one point.

I hope he remembers the day for the rest of his life. We were all thrilled for him.

After that, it was a case of working our way through the rest of their batting order. Wickets were taken when I changed the bowling. The victims were shared out. Even I got one with my terrible bowling, which however was better than last week. I'm told I'm not allowed to talk about my wicket, as it was so bad. 

But as ever, it won't say "caught off crap delivery" in the scorebook. 

Victory was achieved when our number six destroyed the stumps with his first delivery. 

Finally, a word about my fielding. It is terrible at the moment. I have no idea what my body is doing, and which bit of it is where in relation to the ball. My attempt to go for a catch was so hopeless it reduced the team, and the bowler, to different sorts of tears as I flapped at the ball like a one flippered seal while falling over. 

But I'll take the win, thanks.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 15.05.23

Monday 8 May 2023

Back on the Greensward

 Cricket is back!

Well, it's been back for a couple of weeks actually, but the games I was due to play got rained off, although I did end up umpring a second team game for several hours, but that victory had rather felt like reflected glory in the bar afterwards. 

I couldn't wait to get back to the real thing.

So, on Sunday, a day of unexpected warmth and sunshine, I threw my now not very whites in my kitbag, and headed for Kelham Road to vice captain or Sunday side against the nice gentelemen from Cheers Cricket Nottingham, one of whom was having a crafty pre-game nap on a bench when I arrived.

Being rather hungover, I envied him. 

Despite the terrible weather our ground staff had done an amazing job on the ground and wicket, and our new club president had very kindly come down to umpire. The skipper lost the toss as usual, and so Cheers decided to bat.

Now, our team was very strong, with several first team players, and Cheers had said they were very week and were worried about the game, and after ten overs, this certainly seemed to be the case. They were four for two after brilliant spells from our opening bowlers, and a hasty tactical meeting between myself and the skipper was convened in order to stop the game only lasting an hour. 

"Let's get the donkey bowlers on" was the new strategic plan, and it worked brilliantly as our leg spinner was hammered into the adjoining field second ball.

Now it was time to really go for it. I was brought on.

Now, over the winter problems with my shoulder and ankle have meant I have given up my left arm swing bowling, which has been rubbish for three years anyway, and have switched to bowling right arm off spin. Nets had led me to be quite optimistic it would go ok. 

Reality, however, has a way of pissing on you and claiming it is rain.

My first ball was short, turned a little, and was hammered over the boundary for six. As was the third, and the fourth. Two others only went for four, and long grass kept one to two. 

The over went for 28 in all, much to the delight of my team-mates who laughed mightily with every hit. 

I did get better after that, although I did throw in a couple of wides, but my three overs went for 33, which was a bit much even for our new tactical plan, so decent bowlers were brought back on.

"You were lucky he didn't take you apart" said one of the Cheers lads afterwards of the batter. What, and going for 28 isn't being taken apart?

The game continued in this pattern...good bowlers for a bit, and then further attempts to give Cheers a few runs in the aim to try and get them up to a reasonable score. However, unlike what happened to me, the Cheers lads weren't able to take advantage and were bowled out for 132 after what seemed a very long 35 overs. 

Am I upset about what happened to my bowling? Naaah, life's too short. I was rather enjoying myself out there!

So, after a tupperware tea break in the sunshine - cherry jellies for energy in my case - it was time for us to bat in what seemed like would be a straight forward chase. Indeed our young opening bats made a bright start and took us to nearly fifty before a wicket fell. 

After that though, we really began to make heavy weather of our task. The Cheers bowlers were clearly rather better than their batting, and we struggled to get a partnership going for a while. Wickets were falling, and the first team captain had to be rescued from watching Arsenal in the pavilion in order to steady the ship.

The first team captain is very good at steadying the ship, everyone says it, and indeed he and the other senior first teamer in the side did just that to take us close to our target, until one got a good ball, and the first team skipper played just a few minutes too early at a slower delivery. We had 14 left to get, and wickets were tumbling again, forcing me as the regular and no-longer reluctant number 11 to put my pads on. 

Enter our first team opening bowler, who on request we shall name. His name is Craig, AKA "Bimmo" and like me he usually bats at eleven, and was not batting at eleven today because I was in the team. It was he who steered us home with some elegant late cuts and dabs, although he nearly forgot to actually, you know, run, when he hit the winning single down to third man. 

So, a successful if slightly wobbly start to our Sunday game, and no I'm not going to stop bowling spin.

I'll get the batters worked out, then bowled out, so there!

Nature photographs included to annoy the chairman. 


All text and images copyright CreamCRackeredNature

Saturday 6 May 2023

The Nature of Berlin and the Tiergarten

 A few more Berlin photos for you, focussing on the nature I found on my sister and I's long walks around The Tiergarten and Kreuzberg.

Apart from our Kreuzberg day, the weather was pretty chilly and wet and so there wasn't a lot fluttering about, and what there was, was pretty much the same you would find in the UK. However, the honeybees looked different to ours and may be of the carniolan sub-species.

So the hope of finding fritillaries or camberwell beauties I'd seen in photos from Germany ended up being rather dashed!



All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 06.05.23