Your Cricket Season
Well, I guess it's that time of year. Dust off the pads, clean the woodlouse colonies out of your jockstraps, and try your best to get onto the front foot before the ball squats off a length and yorks you on the second bounce.
As per usual, coaching and managing will be taking the lead this summer, and I suppose I'll be using this thread to talk out my selection issues to nobody in particular: the school team kick off a week on Saturday with a chance for some associate bashing against Merchison Castle, followed by a trip to Cheam and the defence of the Rugby School Six-a-Side.
It's a few weeks until the County/District balls get rolling, but in the meantime I have that rarest of opportunities - a match for myself: Sunningwell II v Chesterton II as I look for a club with a home ground whose background noise isn't the M40. I wonder what the summer will hold...
After a couple of seasons debating it, my club have culled our 4th XI, because it was a struggle to get a team out regularly. We were playing in possible one of the worst adult leagues in England, the quality was pretty poor, but it was good fun, and a good breeding ground for some of the younger players.
This means my unique band of slow slow left arm won't be getting much of a chance to shine this year. I'll probably end up playing the odd game for the 2nd's/3rd's and about four or five Sunday league games, but those are above my level, so I won't get a bowl.
Tour games seem my best bet for snaring some wickets, and I'll probably play a fair few of those, so that's all good fun. Other than that I suppose I'll be down the club watching a lot now that I can drive.
We actually played our first National Inter School game today against a really pathetic side. Scored 240-3 in 20 and got them 57 all out -.-"
Yes the season is rapidly upon us once again. All the work done pre-season in the indoor, and of late, outdoor nets, now we get chance to put it all into practice. I am club captain again, crikey it's more off the pitch hassle than I ever imagined! One more training session, and team meeting tonight, before we really can begin to plot our own individual innings, envisage holding the bat up and milking the applause from a generally sparse crowd. Alternatively throwing the bat into the oppositie wall of the changing room, blaming the umpires for their lack of improvement over the winter, and then looking forward to a nice pint in the bar afterwards while berating the groundsman, umpires, and of course the scorer for missing all those runs off your tally!
In the interesting situation of having 4 teams asking me to play this weekend (6 including football).
Should be noted that 2 of the teams are playing against each other.
At least tell us who you're playing for...
Chesterton II 124
Sunningwell II 125-9
The first nail-biter of the season ends with a win, albeit slightly contrived as our #10 was a first-teamer who was a last minute fill-in. He also took 4/4 as Chesterton lost 6/20, but that was mainly through the age-old village cricket adage of CGW - crap gets wickets. From a personal perspective, I kept moderately well on a pitch that was more up and down that I have ever seen before: through the legs one ball, over the head the next... all from balls on a length. 12 byes was far too many for my liking, but realistically there was bugger all I could do with most of them.
I finished off a run-out off the second ball of the innings, and although I was far from convinced that I had the ball in my gloves when I broke the wicket, no one else doubted it... there was also a hash of a stumping that did keep low, but really should have been taken. I made up for this somewhat with two stumpings before the innings was out: as I'm too quick for tail-ender overbalancing. The general verdict was that I had kept well, but looking back I'm not sure it was more than 6/10 - consistency is what it's all about, and I wasn't.
With the bat, we started well and I came in at 33/1 in the ninth, before watching a clatter of wickets as Chesterton got the ball to move around and we played some bone-headed shots. I then tried to work a leg-side ball off my hips, got nowhere near as it swung further down, clipping my pads through to the keeper. I was then given out - and for the first time ever, I had literally no idea why I'd been given out. It turned out to be caught behind... which amused me a few minutes later, after I'd thrown things around for a bit.
We got to 99/5, which became 100/9 (yes, I know) and should have been 101 all out after a fumbled run-out (combine 18 year old with 60 year old and try to run a two - your imagination should do the rest, but the veteran ended up full-length on his front having slid in at the non-strikers'. We then had a runner and finished it off in boundaries.
I've got another game tomorrow, for the Sunday XI at Dorchester-on-Thames, so at least that will be another bit of action before the end of May. Wonder how my thighs feel tomorrow morning. £10 says stiff.
Good work Neil, always good to start with a win, and if you're feeling anything like me this evening, then the stiffness will be severe! Already cramping up tonight, not looking forward to the morning stiffness, at least not in certain areas!
We too kicked off with a tense victory. We set them a target of just under 180, and bowled them out for around 165, pretty tense for an opening game, but thoroughly satisfying. That winning feeling and excitement in the changing rooms after make all the hard work at training worthwhile. While we weren't at the top of our game, we stayed together, chipper in the field, and worked very hard to get this win. Needless to say I was delighted with the boys. We're not all going to click every week, and while a few of the batsmen will be disappointed with their contributions and the bowlers with the areas they bowled, we all gave our all and as captain I can't ask for more than that. Next week the guys that were below par this week may be our matchwinners.
On a personal note, got to 28 then failed to get hold of an expansive drive and mid-off took a relatively simple catch. Disappointing once I'd got myself in, and felt good at the crease for the first game. Huge ground, plenty of threes is not ideal. Got through six overs with the ball, one for 24.
Good workout all round, and a great start to the season.
Sunningwell 50/4 after 18 overs.
My contribution was 18 (45) with one four - so far the only boundary of the game - until the last ball that just hit bowled disappeared over square leg. I was then so early on a long hop that I toe ended it straight to mid off. Really need to work on that cut shot as I am consistently hitting the damn thing far too early and far too aerially. Oh well, it's a start, and at least I vaguely looked like a batsman...
We lost by three wickets in the last over (effectively two after their opener gloved one into his eye from the second ball of the innings). We rallied well in the middle order to add a good deal for the fifth wicket, but didn't really kick on before tea. In reply, we dropped too many catches mid-innings to really feel hard done by when they got over the line. I kept reasonably well (standing back more than up after that second ball when we decided the pitch was a little on the spiteful side) with 3 byes in 40 overs. I fingertipped one outside edge through first slip's legs: don't know whether it counts as a missed chance or not...
Thoroughly enjoyed my weekend's cricket, as much as I've done since leaving Devon four years ago. Very happy with my choice of club and I was even being asked for my opinion by the skipper through the last few overs today. The fact that I'm actually disappointed I can't play again for five weeks due to school commitments says plenty.
As for the stiffness, well - to quote Susan Cooper - tonight will be bad, and tomorrow will be beyond imagining...
Mount Edgecombe 189/6
Had a shocking day, batted at 5 and mustered 4 from around 20 balls I'd guess. Probably inside edged half of those and missed the other half completely. Got bowled around my legs after shuffling across to work one off my hip but the ball never got above my shin. Bowling wise 6 overs 1/36. An edge over slip and a chip over midwicket the only other 2 reasonable chances I created. Started my spell really well and ripped a few past the left hander's outside edge but slipped in too many chest high full tosses for me to be really happy. Got my wicket with what was effectively a bouncer, definitely pitched in my half of the wicket. Felt like such an amateur, better for getting a performance like that out of my system though.
To make it worse my best mate slapped me for 14 in my final over to pretty much win the game.
Enjoy reading this, i have not started for a new club yet
Dragon 208/4 declared
Merchiston Castle 113/8
The perfect season-opener. Had we wanted to go all-out for a win, we could have done a number of things: such as bowl first, declare several overs earlier, however we didn't need to, and match practice was a much more important goal. Our opening bat made his maiden fifty to kick things off, and our Canadian number five bludgeoned 36* off 24 balls as we batted onwards up until tea to give the middle order some much-needed batting time.
In reply, our lack of out-and-out pace meant that breakthroughs were hard to come by: two of the first four wickets were run-outs, and despite an over rate of 21.7 per hour (and eight men as close to the bat as we were allowed for 25 overs) we were running out of time. The final over began with six down, and though our leggie took two in three balls, when third slip put down a reasonably straightforward chance off the fifth ball, the game was up.
Lots to learn, nevertheless, and it will be a thoroughly engaging season should these stories repeat themselves - the skill and tactics of trying to knock teams over when all they're doing is dead-batting it are a whole game in themselves.
Playing my first game of cricket today in early middle age. No way will i be able to play league but my village has a fair few sunday 40 over friendlies. I have been practising bowling spin both indoors and out, but have no idea what will happen in a match situation! May report back...
Mount Edgecombe 87/10
Got off to a great start removing both openers in the first 2 overs of the game. No real partnerships developed and I was brought on to finish things off and finished with 1.1 overs 1/2. In reply we got off to a good start and reached 30 before the loss of our first wicket. It was a timed game so we had approximately 50 overs to chase down the remaining 73. Should've been simple but the middle order decided to find new and inventive ways to get out. I walked out at 66/6 (I can't blame them for putting me at 8 the way I played against them last week), proceeded to defend my first two balls back down the pitch (meaning I'd middled exactly 2 more than I had in my last innings) and felt pretty good. Before I could blink 66/6 became 66/8 and I was left scratching my head at the non strikers. Was given a nudge by the captain that there was absolutely nothing to help me batting wise which was shown by the fact that after wafting at a wide one the number 10 went on a walk around the pitch and was stumped. He literally missed the shot, turned away and took a few paces out of his crease. Managed to get to within 20 of the target before their prank offspinner pitched one in his own half, should've been dispatched into the next field but it took off vertically and arrived at the crease about 4 hours after I'd played the stroke. Landed on top of the off bail on its way back down for its second bounce. Of the 21 runs scored while I was at the crease I got 20. So not all bad.
Wednesday - Cheam 150/8 beat Dragon 70 by 80 runs.
The worst performance I have seen in 11 years of off-the-field involvement in cricket. I let them know that. Ropeable.
Thursday - Dragon won the Rugby School six-a-side
Bouncebackability FTW. Bowled and fielded magnificently and batted significantly better than the previous day to defend our title in convincing fashion. A fantastic response to the previous day's fiasco and one that's made me feel a whole lot better.
Batting depth remains an issue, however, and we'll be working very hard on that in the weeks to come.