Saturday, 27 August 2011

A captain's performance, at least with the ball...

After much organisation by Duncan and myself, we finally departed for Stafford CC's first tour for about 20 years on the 24th August. Sadly despite the best efforts of our hosts our first fixture at Thornbury CC was washed out as first a large downpour engulfed us about 20 minutes before the scheduled start, then further rain arrived later just as the ground was getting agonisingly close to playable. Our hosts saved the day though with tremendous hospitality, and we had a competitive drinking game to settle "the battle of the knot", as incredibly their logo is the same as ours due to a former Lord Stafford's strong ties in the area.

For our second fixture, however, our hosts were not so accommodating. To be perfectly blunt, it seemed they simply couldn't be bothered with the fixture, had left the wicket uncovered as it rained hard the night before and when we turned up they rather curtly told us the fixture was off. This despite Thursday afternoon seeing by far the best cricket weather of the tour. We went via a well-lubricated pub lunch to a local bowling alley, and after starting with two strikes in a row I think I finished about 5th or 6th out of the 17 of us.

So on Friday it was all or nothing, and thankfully our hosts Bishopston CC were outstanding in their efforts to get the game going. The wicket was probably no better than it had been the day before, damp and sticky, but the ground was beautiful, set in the middle of a retirement village with a large, expertly-manicured outfield. Since rain was expected we decided on a 20/20 and started half an hour early, and as had been agreed before the tour I was to captain the game, my first match in that role. I arranged with my opposite number that they should bat first as I felt this way my bowlers and fielders would be more likely to be sober and we'd get a full game, and although it wasn't a popular decision in the dressing room (I think the balance of opinion was about 10 to 1, you can guess which way) I stuck my guns and we went out to field.

I'd got Manu and Sam down to open the bowling but was persuaded to bowl the first over myself, and after a simply horrendous loosener first ball I managed to limit the damage to just that wide and four singles. Manu bowled with discipline but Sam was a little more wayward than I had hoped (I know, I'm a fine one to talk) and after they'd each bowled their four overs and taken a wicket a piece I brought Dan and Joe on with the score at 60 for 2. They also picked up a wicket apiece before I brought myself back on with Chigsy bowling from the other end. Chigsy managed to pick up another wicket before I started my third over with the score at 111 for 5.

I hadn't bowled brilliantly but my field setting seemed pretty effective and I'd only gone for 11 runs - 2 wides and 9 singles - off my first two overs, with one or two nice deliveries including one very good ball that pitched well outside leg and turned big, the 'keeper saying after that it would have hit middle and off if the batsman's pads hadn't intervened, and a dropped catch at mid-off. Anyway, first ball of my third over and I really foxed the batsman, who mis-timed his shot and spooned the ball up into the hands of Mo at mid-on. As usual I was engulfed by my team-mates but thankfully was left relatively unscathed this time, and my next ball was swiped away high towards cow-corner, right in to the waiting grasp of Karl on the boundary. I was on a Hat-trick!

After giving myself a few moments to calm myself down, I bowled a decent hat-trick ball, pitching on leg and turning to hit off, but the batsman managed to fend it away for a single, and after bowling a couple of wides I decided at the end of the over it was time to take myself off. Dan and Joe came back for the last two overs but were a little expensive, conceding 32 runs between them to finish the allotted overs at 153 for 7. While I hadn't done as good a job of captaincy as I'd hoped, losing the plot a little as I got distracted working out how to rotate my bowlers, I had taken the best figures of the day - best average (7.5), best economy rate (5.0) AND best strike rate (9.0)!

On paper I thought our batting looked pretty strong, with Ravi and Mo opening followed by Karl and Duncan, but sadly Ravi, Mo and Dunc only managed 32 between them. Braz made a short but sweet 13 before Sam went in, having somehow managed to convince me to move him up the order. He trudged forlornly back just two balls later, having made his third duck in just 5 deliveries. He still fancies himself as a batsman, mind... Manu went in next, but then the gentle drizzle that had been falling for half an hour or so got a little heavier and the home team decided they had to protect their wicket for the league match the following day.

However, much to their credit, they allowed us to continue with the covers on the square, with a hit on the covers scoring four. After Manu fell for a disappointing 2, Joe went in (having burned my ear about having been dropped down the order to make way for Sam) and made the most of this new arrangement, pounding the covers time and again and hitting a couple of huge sixes to boot. He (and Karl, batting rather more steadily and sensibly) moved us from 71 for 7 when he went in to 132 for 7 at the start of the final over. Surely 22 runs off six balls was too much to get?

Well, it was, and Joe rather sadly got himself out on 48 with just one ball left, Chigsy still finding time to get himself out stumped off the last ball. We ended up 18 short, but at least we'd got a game in and we had a lot of fun in their clubhouse after. And of course, I'd somehow ended up with the best bowling figures of the tour!!!

1 comment:

Spin Bowling Project said...

You sound surprised that you produced the best figures on tour. Have a little faith!

Hard luck about the hat-trick. I got one under my belt, but I was 11 years old at the time so I dont think it really counts. haha.

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