Monday, 18 July 2011

One good ball

Saturday's game was a strange affair for me, I could have sworn we'd be rained off but in the end we managed a completed game. We were up against Aston on the ground at Alleyne's School, and when we got there the cover was still on and the wicket hadn't been mown, so it was a good half an hour after the scheduled start before we were able to get underway. I half-wish the game had been rained off.

Aston's leading batsman was back after being suspended, apparently because Aston paid him to play in a strictly amateur league, and he reached his century pretty quickly, scoring at more than ten an over. As the innings wore on past the drinks break and we edged ever closer to declaration territory I wondered if Sam was ever going to bring me on to bowl, and with a typically bizarre rationale he told me I'd come on once Jamie, one of the juniors in the side, had completed his maximum six overs. As we were in the middle of a match I relented from explaining to Sam that Jamie gets plenty of match overs in the U15s, and that 6 overs is more than Sam's given me all bloody season, and I did a truly outstanding job of not showing how absurd I thought this whole situation was.

Anyway, I was at last brought on to bowl the 29th over, by which time they had reached 241 for 3. I set out my field and prepared to bowl, but it didn't start well. Both my first two balls came out all wrong and were smacked away for two boundaries. For the third ball I tried to bowl a little flatter and land it just outside leg stump, and to my utter astonishment it came out pretty well, landing a touch wider than I was hoping but turning nicely. The batsman went to swat it away a third time, but this time totally mistimed the shot and the ball continued on its merry way before gently lifting the leg-side bail off.

That was, it turned out, the only even half-decent ball I was to bowl that day, as I followed it up with a ball so wide the batsman couldn't reach it despite his best efforts, followed by an identical ball which was his for six straight into the lap - would you believe it - of the batsman's mother-in-law, followed by a wide which they took a run off and finally a single off the last ball. Truly I have never bowled a worse over in any of the 11 games I've bowled in. And of course, they declared after 30 overs so that was the only over I got to bowl.

I cannot understand why I bowled so badly. True, I hadn't had the chance to do any pre-match practise as the nets were dangerously wet, lots of lifting and straining the day before the match probably didn't do my shoulders much good, and I imagine so many overs spent wondering whether the declaration would scupper any chance I had of bowling probably left me in a less than ideal frame of mind, but above all it's been so bloody long since I last bowled in a match (fully 35 long, depressing days) and this perhaps has affected my ability to concentrate as fully as in the past. I just didn't feel as if I was really all there. And now, after my one over for 17 runs, I imagine it may be another month before Sam brings me on to bowl again...

So, in we went to bat chasing another ungettable 250+ total, and as usual only one person - me - seemed to understand that it might be a good idea to keep the scoreboard updated. I was batting number 9 but was under no illusions that I might get to leave my pads in the bag. I came in with the score on 91 for 7 with 20+ overs available so I was very much determined to just hang around, block the good balls and see how many runs I could get off the bad ones. Bowling at one end was Aston's "pro", not too quick but very consistent, and from the other end came some of the slowest, loopiest bowling I've ever seen from a tiny kid who had already notched up 3 of our wickets. God knows how, I didn't see any danger in his bowling as long as you stayed in your crease and blocked anything straight, but then I suppose not everyone in our team is happy with a strike-rate of under 20.

So my first parter was dispatched fairly quickly without any addition to the score and Jamie came in, and I told him to just take it slowly, block the good balls and above all don't feel under pressure to score. We hung around for a couple of overs, each scoring a single plus two byes, before once again I defended over the top of a straight ball and was bowled. Not long after that Jamie was stumped for the kid's fifth wicket of the match and we were all out for just 95. I wish I could try my bowling against our 4th team one day...

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