Sunday 19 May 2024

This Time, Eleven Beats Ten

 With no great hopes or expectations - I lie, there are always dreams of hero-dom in the back of my mind - I found myself drafted into our third team for a trip to Thrumpton, over on the Leicestershire border.

On paper, we looked quite a strong third eleven, but sadly, that paper was old school parchment. Seven or eight years ago, we would indeed have been a strong team, but we were all younger then, playing two divisions lower and in much better practice. There was also only ten of us. 

Still, it was great to be back playing with these chaps. 

I'd never played at Thrumpton, but the reputation of its teas preceded it. Generally agreed to be the best in the league, the main tactical consideration was not the state of the wicket, or the atmospherics, but rather to bowl first so we could put our feet up at half time and stuff ourselves royally.

Thus there were major celebrations when we heard from the skipper that we were indeed fielding first. 

Thrumpton's ground has a beautifully bucolic setting, which I had spent most of my pre-game warm up by photographing. Surrounded by buttercup meadows, free ranging fresian cows and overflown by a number of keening buzzards, it was a glorious place to play cricket. For the less aesthetically minded, the presence of a bar was carefully noted. 

Off we went to bowl and field, or in my case, field only as I thought at the time. The Thrumpton bats made a good start against our opening bowlers, the captain of Keele University second team, and a refugee from Blidworth from the "here be dragons" Bassetlaw championship. 

They played some good shots, but it was all a bit hacky and sloggy and on a bigger ground might even have cost them - Thrumpton has a pretty small outfield. But they cracked along at 6 an over until The Man from Blidworth had one of the openers caught by the captain, before our guest spinner from Upton had the other caught in the deep. Another captain's catch got rid of the number 3, before another bat missed a ball from the off spinner by miles and was plumb lbw. 

At this point, 80 for 4, our captain thought we might skittle them for under 120, and golly we did try, but the lower middle order had other ideas. While I was fielding energetically in my usual tactically selected - by the captain - positions where I didn't actually see much of the ball, the heavily bearded but very friendly Thrumpton captain and a junior player about the height of the stumps started crashing the ball around, with a tree next to the cow field getting some rought treatment a couple of times. 

It was in this context that I was invited to bowl the last few overs by the skipper, with the friendly encouragement that I would be shot if I bowled badly, or words to that effect. As it happened, I didn't, although my off spin wasn't getting much turn. I even got a wicket with the last ball of the innings, a delivery the Thrumpton captain somehow managed to loop into our keeper's hands via the back of his bat. 

Maybe I should be told I will be shot more often. Although I'd rather I wasn't. 

Tea was, as predicated, sumptious, with chicken goujons, chips, pizza and enough sandwiches to feed the Titanic presented to our team who fell upon it like starving jackals. There was even ice cream and jelly for afters. 

Time then, to bat. Well, not for me. I was expecting to bat at eleven even with ten men in the team. We were facing a fairly stiff chase of 175 in 40 overs, and it turned out fairly quickly that this was going to be tough. 

The young Thrumpton seam bowlers may have been rather short, but they weren't short on pace and the ability to hit the stumps, which we had rather failed to do. Only our tall opener, supported by his magic back brace, stood firm with his usual stoic front foot play with the occasional elegant whack. 

The other end was a festival of stump upheaval. 

The captain went in, and batting better than I've seen for a long time, took it to the bowlers with some powerful strokeplay. But at 84-7, he found himself with me walking out to join him. 

"What are you doing out here, you are rubbish, get the guy from Keele out here" he encouraged me, while frantically waving at said man from Keele. 

He was then out next ball to a stunning catch. 

The first ball I received, from yet another stump high fast bowler whacked me hard on the foot and I was happy to take the leg bye to face the rather gentler left arm spin at the other end. Banjaxed the first ball for four, then missed the next five. 

The Keele captain had now com in, and recognising true incompetence when he saw it, took charge of the situation to hog the strike, while playing some excellent shots while I watched with a smattering of envy. He could easily have got 50, but sadly, I let him down by getting bowled round my legs for 5. But between us, we had passed the 100 mark, and got us the batting point.

To go with the extra bowling point I earned. 

All in all, a lovely day. 


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 19.05.24


  1. What a beautiful little ground - just how village cricket should be.

  2. Sounds a lovely afternoon Si - those buttercups are heavenly, that fat pug needs to get a bit of weight off, the tea sounds scrumptious, love the doormat - and all that's without ever mentioning the cricket.

  3. What a lovely bucolic setting for cricket.