This weekend's game for our as yet unbeaten, despite me, Sunday side, took us to play Edwinstowe, a once big time club that now only plays friendlies due to the fact that the local area is saturated with big time cricket clubs associated with the old collieries like Clipstone and Thoresby Colliery.
The setting for the ground was utterly stunning, a natural amphitheatre at the edge of Sherwood Forest. The visitor centre and cafe was at one end of the ground, with the "Major Oak Festival" taking place just beyond, explaining why there were people dressed as Mayde Marian and various outlaws wandering around the boundary at times.
Of our opponents, I knew little. Research indicated that sometimes they were very good, and sometimes rather less so. Their captain told me, as I was losing the toss as usual, that he'd had to scrape up a team of ten, and yes please, he'd very much like to bat first.
As always, my team-mates upon hearing that they were going to have to field first, told me I was a disgustingly useless captain, while I apologised for not being able to use the force to manipulate the coin as it span through the air.
With a mixed ability side under my, ahem, "command", I opened the bowling with one of our second team openers, and a new player to the club who had seemed like a decent bowler at Thursday nets, and I was absolutely delighted that he took a wicket fairly early on. The other batter however, the left handed Edwinstowe skipper, was playing some very elegant big shots, and their number three, while more of an utter hacker, was also able to give the ball a fair old smack.
Trying to be tactically inspired, I brought on our first team bowler with the instruction that I wanted their skippers wicket on a silver platter, which he duly delivered in his second over thanks to a brilliant catch on the boundary. With the chairman now asking politely for a bowl, I tossed him the ball and he duly delivered two wickets in his first over, as young kids and obviously rather less able players began to appear at the crease. The first teamer, his job done, volunteered to drop out of the attack, and I brought myself on.
I'm getting better, but I'm still dropping one ball an over onto leg stump enabling even fairly hopeless batters to belt me for four. But I still beat the outside edge with flight and bounce, bowled one batter with one I pushed through, before getting another left hander caught at mid off. Two for sixteen in four overs.
Time to take myself off and give someone else a go.
Trouble was, at this stage in proceedings I let my captaincy slip, as rather than keep an eye on what was actually happening in the match, I was probably a bit more concerned with trying to get everyone into the game, especially those batting down the order. I got a bit lost with setting a field, and forgot that with thunder forecast we needed to try and get the game over a bit more ruthlessly than is my normal approach for Sunday friendlies.
However, we did get the job done, and bowled out Edwinstowe for 115. Shout out to our novice keeper, who did a fine job, apart from a bit of a mess up at the end. No shout out for my fielding, which was so terrible I banished myself from mid-off. No confidence when the hall is hit hard at me any more.
The sky was getting very dark now. It had been horrendously humid all afternoon, and the odd spot of rain had fallen. Thunder was expected. I sent out our opening batsman with instructions to keep things ticking over.
Well, I think I did.
In any case, they were completely up to the task, and got to 57 with some excellent stroke play off the opening bowlers until the first teamer, not wanting to seem like a bully to a young lad who had come on to bowl, got bowled. But the other opener kept it going until almost the end, cutting the bowlers to death until he dragged on at 48, accompanied by the novice wicket keeper who scored almost entirely in boundaries.
We won by a comfortable 7 wickets, fifty minutes before the grey heavens opened.
Thanks to all who played, and our umpire who kept telling me my backside was in the way.
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.06.23