Monday, 5 September 2011

Mission Accomplished

With just two matches left before the end of the season, both on the home artificial surface where my place in the team has been anything but certain, I went into the weekend with a simple goal: Get the one wicket I needed to make it 10 for the season and thus achieve my principle goal set way back in pre-season. After what I regard to be my best bowling performance of the season, I did just that.

I went into the game knowing that I'd never taken a wicket on that surface before, so I had a good long think about how I should approach the game. My biggest problem is that it's slow, doesn't turn much and bounces quite high, meaning any ball on my normal length with probably bounce well over the wicket and right into any reasonable batsman's hitting zone. As such I decided, following the example of countless Australian leg-spinners on their bouncy wickets over the years, to make heavy use of a back-spinning ball so as to reduce the bounce and threaten the stumps more. Before the game I warmed up majoring heavily on my zooter, as my flipper isn't good enough yet, and also giving my leg-break and top-spinner a go, and hearteningly the zooter seemed to be coming out pretty well.

We started the game with only nine men, in part because Sam had been drafted into the thirds at the last-minute, and as the opposition were also awaiting late-comers it was no surprise that after winning the toss they chose to bat. We went into the field and I was as usual doing a solid but unspectacular job at square leg, although I didn't have that much to do. Eventually our other two players turned up and for once I was brought on to bowl shortly before the drinks break, with the score on about 90 for 4.

My first over started off pretty well, with my zooters coming out well as planned and the batsmen not really knowing what to do with them. I went for 3 off the first over, and my second over was a maiden - my first ever. The zooters had them covering their stumps, and tossing in the odd leg-break produced some fun, the ball spinning right past the bat and producing lots of "ooh"s from the fielders. I was absolutely on top of the batsmen, and seemed to be using my variations well. At one point I came to the last ball of an over and just though "lets see what he does with a top-spinner" so I tossed it up, he came down the wicket for a slog but mistimed the shot completely and slashed it into his own pads.

My third and fourth overs went for just a single apiece, in part down to the effectiveness of my field setting, but while this was perfect for the team given that some of our earlier overs had been a little expensive, I was conscious that I wasn't looking like actually taking a wicket. Having been told at the end of my 2nd, 3rd and 4th overs words to the effect that I had earned myself another over, I thought "sod it, this is dull - I'm going to give it a proper rip" so my fifth over was a lot more attacking. While it wasn't as frugal I did create a couple of chances, but sadly I got hit for 4 (the only boundary of my spell) off the last ball and was replaced.

I went back to fielding, and was told off on a couple of occasions for not diving to stop the ball, but on a hard abrasive outfield and with my ribcage still rather sore I'm afraid I'm not prepared to dive onto a bruised rib for anyone, not to mention I'm not terribly good at it at the best of times. Anyway, the match carried on and they moved on to 226 for 5 as I was brought on to bowl the 48th over. First ball up I decided to bowl a top-spinner and it came out almost perfectly, bouncing high and prompting the batsman to loop it pretty much vertically in to the air. It was an easy job for the keeper to move forward a few paces and take the catch, and the opposition immediately declared as the man I'd got out was on 89 and they'd been hanging on to see if he made 100.

I did allow myself a roar of delight at having achieved my season's goal, but as we walked off a wasp which had somehow found its way into my trousers stung me on the back of my thigh. Is that a good omen or a bad one? Anyway, nothing is more inevitable these days than the scorebook ending up in my lap as we're batting, so after tea I was beavering away with the pencil as Ravi and Jack went off at one hell of a lick, putting on 185 for the first wicket before the drinks break. We knocked off the total for just two down, and just in time as the rain came along only about five minutes after the match ended.

It was pretty good to get a win, as I hadn't been part of a winning 4th team since June. I can't help but feel the absence of one or two team regulars had helped matters... The 3rds, meanwhile, were celebrating winning the League, and for once it was all smiles in the clubhouse as all 4 of our Saturday teams had won. According to Gaz this only happens once or twice a decade. The main thing for me though was that all that hard work in the first half of the season had been rewarded and I had achieved the goal I set myself.


Spin Bowling Project said...

Mission accomplished. Well done man. And clever to use the zooter on the high bouncing pitches

Anonymous said...

How do you bowl your zooter? Sounds like an interesting one. I bowl a couple of backspinners myself but what is your preferred method of bowling it?

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