Friday 25 August 2023

There was Quality in there Somewhere

 On Sunday, it was time for our return visit by our friends from Cropwell. For once, through no fault of my own, I was late for the game, and batting first we were already 88 for 1, with our opening bat just cracking a four to bring up his 50 and his enforced retirement as I arrived. 

We carried on batting rather serenely at about five runs an over, until with about 8 overs to go our other bat, now on over 200 runs in three games, also reached 50 and had to retire. 

This led to a passage of cricket that was, shall we say, a challenging watch. As ever, the problems of scoring runs against slow lob bowling on a slow wicket on our deck became very apparently, and there wasn't a lot of quality on view, with some ferocious swinging of the bat resulting in minimal ball movement. 

Hey, it's Sunday, it doesn't matter! All good. We still had 152 for 4 on the board.

However, we know Cropwell. Every time we have played them, their opening bat has always come in and slammed 50 very quickly before retiring for a beer, and ensuring Cropwell got the runs they needed. This time, however, our young opening bowler got him quite early on, and it was in fact his partner who started slamming the ball around, hitting one bowler over the pavilion twice. 

Their run rate was climbing rapidly. The skipper, desperate not to lose again, decided to deploy some first team bowling, including the division's leading wicket taker. This is generally regarded as being a bit "Un-Sunday-Like" and the Cropwell captain, himself a good bat as well, thought we were being a bit naughty, especially as the quick bowler seemed to be about twenty miles per hour for the Cropwell bats to even see. 

I did apologise, as they took four wickets between them in eight overs and killed the game stone dead, as Cropwell's remaining batters were clearly not up to much. Thankfully, friendlier bowlers were brought on for the the last 12 overs as we chipped away at the remaining wickets. 

I bowled some gentle filth myself, claiming another wicket with my speared in quicker ball, even if it was a full toss. 

There was time for a bit of peak village at the end, where our umpire allowed my last over, the final one of the game, to go on for about ten balls so the playing wife of one of the Cropwell players could score a run. 

She got one, from a ball I bowled at her left handed. Yes, it got to that level. We won by about 50 runs. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 25.08.23

Friday 18 August 2023

Rudbeckia and Echinacea Time

 Late summer and these two flower species are getting all the love from the pollinators, who pay a visit and end up thickly dusted in yellow pollen!

The last swifts have left my skies a couple of days ago, but we still have swallows and house martins. It is the time of the year when they find the cricket grounds I play on particularly attractive as an insect hunting ground. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 18.08.23

Thursday 10 August 2023

A Day of Days - not by me of Course

 Sunday saw us taking on a strong young Attenborough side, a rather stronger one in fact that the one we beat earlier in the season. We batted first under generally grey skies, with me umpiring, and within about ten minutes we were 1 for 3 on a pitch that our groundstaff had done brilliantly to get in any way playable at all after the weather we'd had, but was still rather tricky. 

Our first team opener was brilliantly yorked, our other opener  tried to pull a ball that bounced and stopped completely and hit the back of his bat, while our number four could only fend off a ball that was suddenly up by his shoulder. 

Enter our number three, who had usually opened this year and had struggled for runs. Our number 5 was also in good form, and somehow they managed to build a massive partnership of over 100, scoring runs when they could while avoiding the nasty balls brilliantly. 

I forgot to say, I was captain on the day, our regular skipper stepping down generously to allow a younger player a game on a weekend where all Saturday cricket was washed out. 

Eventually the partnership was broken with about 120 on the board, and the lower middle order struggled once again. But not our number 3, who had long since got past 50 and was into the 90s with 8 down. 

As number 11, frankly I was rather crapping myself hoping I didn't need to see him through to his 100. I knew I wasn't going to last any time at all on that wicket against decent bowling. 

Sadly, finally he got a ball with his name on it that stopped on him, and he could only chip it to mid wicket. He was on 94. I was gutted for him after a brilliant innings. 

So, now was the usual farce of me having to bat, and it lasted three balls. The first one spat from a length and jagged away, the second one spat and cut me in half, and the third bounced up and his the bat I was trying to get out of the way, and bobbed up to mid on.

Surprised it made it that far, actually. But as ever, it left me wondering what on earth I was doing out there. 

Closing on 172 all out, I then had the job of trying to win us the game, when tactically I don't really know what I'm doing as well as I'd like. But our opening bowler did the job for me early doors, taking two quick wickets before being confronted with a young batsman about the height of the stumps, who he didn't feel comfortable bowling at. 

So I turned to the chairman, knowing as ever he would bowl well, without ever having to go to nets. Meanwhile myself, who has come to nets every week and had been bowling well at senior batsmen. However, as against Cropwell, when I brought myself on I couldn't find a length and was battered absolutely senseless, going for 27 in my first over and feeling just utterly bereft. 

I had my revenge next over, when I actually got my tormentor caught with my quicker ball which I always land where I want for god knows what reason. 8 wickets for the Sunday season now. 

After these two overs I took myself off. 

We had them four down, then five down, but another young county player came on, and went on to score 50, with my captaincy unable to stop him. It was Attenborough's turn to put on a big stand and get ever nearer our total. At least I was managing our bowers ok, despite being hamstrung by my uselessness and, er, another bowler's hamstring. 

Things were getting tight, but our number 3 suddenly flung himself high to his left to make a one handed grab off our opening bowler to remove the lad on 54. I was astonished, and rather envious having fielded with hopeless clumsiness as ever. 

Game back on!

Another amazing catch by another of our young players then followed. 9 down, with about 10 needed! But a four was hit, then another. I was probably not being defensive enough to be honest, but as captain I'm always loath to have too many guys out on the boundary for some reason. I want to take wickets!

A couple of balls left. Scores level. But our tall bowler pulled off a low catch, and it was 172 all. Match tied!

A brilliant game of cricket, but I felt terrible afterwards. I've no idea what happens to my bowling, and it's left me feeling rather despondent. But I guess there is always the hope that something will click. 

Always that hope. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 11.08.23

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Commas and Damsels

 I've been a little unwell, having eaten some ice cream which I didn't realise had a sweetener in it that acts as massive trigger of IBS symptoms. 

Oof. Not nice. 

The sun has decided to make a few rare appearances in the last few days, and that has meant that some nice insects have made an appearance. Such as the lovely male banded demoiselle I found having a restful moment on the pavement of all places. and then a comma enjoying the sun by the River Devon while having a chat with a bee.

By lucky chance, this is one of the best shots I've ever taken. 

I myself then went to enjoy the sun at Rumbles cafe, although unable to sit on a flower like the comma did.

Fraction too heavy, you see. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 08.08.23

Wednesday 2 August 2023

Bonus Cricket Content - Victory in the Back of Beyond

 I haven't played any Saturday league cricket this year until this past weekend, on the grounds of good availability of miles better players than me.

But now it's August, and players with families are off on their holidays, and so I was brought into play in a game at Wymeswold on the Wolds, a ground in Leicestershire in the heart of cheese and pork pie country.

It was actually a very pretty setting, with views over the rolling Woldsian hills and an orchard, with house martins twittering about among the fielders. 

Inserted to bat on a rather tacky wicket where timing the ball was difficult, we struggled at first, but then some of our youngest players got it together and scored some good runs. Our number five, recovering from Dubai induced heat-stroke, was particularly effortless; his backfoot shots all played with a straight bat, a mark of high quality as he made 75 not out. 

I watched all this from the old fashioned scorebox; a wooden bird box of pulleys and levers that only I seemed to be bothered to figure out how it worked. I bet bats roosted in it. 

A dramatic 6 off the last ball took us to 190 for 5, a strong scored indeed but our opponents, no doubt fortified by pies and stilton, had chased down a higher one at the fixture at our ground, and indeed it became apparent very early on in their innings that they were not going to go down easily, despite the captain taking important wickets. One Wymeswold chap in particular, who had a good eye but an awful technique, was particularly determined to thwart us, and they just chipped and chipped away at our total. 

Knowing that this game was too important for me to have a sniff of getting a bowl, our third team being top of the league for the first time in recorded memory, I just tried to field as least awfully as I could, running far too quick for my old body to handle and leaving me absolutely wrecked for the Sunday match. 

It went down to the 38th over, when our spinner from Upton finally got the last man LBW. 

A great victory, and I was totally spent having actually done nothing all game. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 02.08.23