Sunday, 15 August 2010

A sticky wicket

And so at last I was back in action today, playing at Waterhouses against Wooton. The ground was a really beautiful place situated on the edge of a village with houses on one side and farmland on the other. We got there just in time after a trip round some winding B-roads with Phil and Dunc riding in my car, and after some initial confusion were told that we were batting.

Now clearly I'm still pretty inexperienced so today was my first experience of a properly sticky wicket. Uncovered, and after a few days of rain, it was not only a little muddy but also two-paced, with one end offering bounce and the other just being a bit dead. The Captain was facing first up and was bowled for a Royal Duck, which would prove to be probably the key moment in the match, as it turned out to be a horrendously low-scoring pitch. As well as the sticky wicket the grass in the outfield was rather long meaning anything that bounced more than once was unlikely to make the boundary.

I was in at 8 and by the time the #2 fell for the 6th wicket we were still only on 28. I went out with two to face and I was quite literally quaking. I took guard and managed to block two good deliveries. My partner was going well but was not what one would call sprightly, but I fancied myself to be running pretty quick (rightly, as it turned out) so we managed a few cheeky singles, and with wides and a no-ball beamer that nearly took my head off we put on 8 before inevitably I was bowled a ball I couldn't block, yorked through middle stump.

Curiously, despite the duck I was pretty satisfied with how I'd done, as I was patient and concentrating well.There were two pretty good leaves in there two, including one which was achingly close to the bail but the alternative was a sure-fire edge to slip. My footwork was woeful, as the skipper confirmed when I got back to the pavilion, but that's something I have to work on over many months rather than something I can just switch on prior to a match so I wasn't unduly dissapointed about it.

In the end we made 57 all out, probably only about 10-20 light as it turned out, which if the skipper had stayed in we might well have got. Having had a look at the wicket between innings I was absolutely ACHING to have a bowl, right from the start, as I felt the stickiness would have given me good turn and I was feeling pretty confident. All I could think was "I simply HAVE to get a bowl on this". We started off pretty well with two early wickets and my fielding was the best it's been all season, not that I had that much to do. The required run-rate was something silly like 1.1 but after a dozen overs we were spot on. However, a couple of their batsmen hung around a bit and slowly the match got away from us. When they got to 50 and I still hadn't been tossed the ball it was clear that it wasn't going to happen. Anyway, I'd had a competent day and the match had been engaging.

I was desperately disappointed not to have bowled. I'm sure I could have got a couple of wickets today, and depending on how many runs I went for that could have swung the match decisively our way. Anyway, maybe I have too high an opinion of my bowling. After the match we stopped off at a local pub, had a few beers, a few games of pool and even a go on the karaoke, which was nice as it made me feel part of the team. The 4ths are a great bunch of guys and I love playing with them.

Tomorrow I'm turning out for the Sunday team's last game of the season as they were a man short. I couldn't really turn it down considering how few matches there are left, and also because it's on the main square which is a lovely pitch that I haven't played on. I'm not sure what level they play at so we'll just have to see how I get on.

Good points: Felt part of the game, batted patiently and blocked OK, very sharp running between the wickets, fielded well with no mistakes.
Points for improvement: Poor footwork and too much nerves when batting, calling could have been a bit louder at times, throwing from deep is still poor.

Today's stats: (Wooton Sports Club 3rd XI vs Stafford 4th XI, 50 overs each)
Batting: Bowled S.Johnson, 0 (7bf, 0x4, 0x6 prt: 7th:8)
Bowling: (didn't bowl, dammit!)
Fielding: Ct 0, St 0, RO 0

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