Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Walton Hall v G&CCC (Grays and Chadwell Cricket Club).

This isn't complete and there's pictures to add as yet......

10th of August and my first game in weeks. The weather had cleared up and we'd had a blustery but mostly sunny morning with the threat of a shower that had never actually shown. Michelle had the car but had said that she'd probably be back around 1pm. At 1.15 I sent Neil a Text to say I'd be playing but I was running late. It was 1.45 before I was able to get away, but fortunately I'd already gone to the bank and got my subs money so I was able to drive straight there. Got held up by the usual old duffers out doing their Sunday driving at 35 mph down 60 mph roads. Arrived at Blackshots right on 2pm and got straight into the game as we were fielding. Out on the field the first thing I noticed was that it was very windy and this went on throughout the game blowing the bails off continuosly till eventually the set at the Pavillion end were taken off for good.

Iooked around at the team we'd put out today as the 2nd XI and there were a couple of unfamiliar faces and a couple of youngsters that have played before -
Tony Milson a big geezer I've never seen before he was fielding at somewhere around backward point/Gully area and a youngster who looked about 14 or 15 called Adam who turned out to be a fast bowler who was at Leg Gully and square leg for most of the game. Part-timers or ringers (I don't know for sure) came in the form of Yorkie who was wicket keeping and Chirpy who was bowling. The rest of the team was made up of 2nd team regulars - Neil (Captain), Me, Swiss Tony, Super Dave and the Downes family were out in force with Phil, Lee and Reece.
The opposition were just as much of a motley bunch as us but with an even bigger age range, I think we go from 13 (Reece) to 48 me. They went from about 18 up to about 81 or maybe even older!

As usual it's difficult to recall all the details exactly and if I get some of this wrong I apologise in advance. Sorry to the opposition if you don't get mentioned and you'll be lucky to be mentioned by name. (There's a chance they may be looking in on the blog I'll explain later).
So the bowling and the fielding highlights...... Chirpy bowling from the Pavillion end took three wickets 2 of which were caught by new bloke (New to me) Tony Milsom both of which were pretty good catches the second which looked as though it was going straight over his head plucked out of the sky with a very agile jump for a big geezer. Generally his fielding was really good and looks as though he almost certainly has played cricket before.
In the end after a spell from the other new bloke (new to me) - Adam, I got a chance to bowl. Adam hadn't got any wickets but had bowled some nice balls very different to chirpy and Reece primarily because of his height. He was bowling a lot shorter it seemed and they were bouncing up into the bats upper body and I think he had a few chances that were missed and some balls that went for byes. Given the chance to bowl I now faced the choice of whether to bowl any Flippers or not. At this point one of the openers was still in place and looking pretty confident and we were holding them at about 3.1 runs per over, needless to say I'd soon put a stop to that! The wind didn't appear to offer any real help and if anything I over-estimated the potential of it's assistance. My first ball if did appear to drift in towards the bat because of the wind (Wrong Un) but thereafter the balls I chucked up widish of the off stump went for wides ocassionally. Initially both the bats seemed a bit wary and played defensive shots which was good. Needless to say all the balls that did stray down the legside were dispatched out to the boundary for 4's. One of them was hit big off the edge of the bat and went high and looked to be going down Phils throat and Phil made his run to catch it but because of the wind it was then pushed beyond him and out of reach fall a little way behind him. Less wind and it's pretty certain that he'd have caught it. In one of the other over around the 5th or 6th it did seem that I was on to have a really low scoring over but a ball then strayed down the legside and was hit. It looked fine as it was on the ground and heading straight for Lee Downes, but somehow and for some reason he didn't get his leg down to stop it and it went straight through his hands and under him and almost to the boundary and they run 3 off of that. I think in an earlier over Lee had got a big knock off a fast ball to his knee when fielding?

Eventually around the 4th or 5th over after Neil had said to try something different - get it to spin the other way or force them to put the ball out to the offside so I brought out the Flippers for the first time this season. The good thing was that they were so obviously different and were pretty accurate, but still nothing doing. I then went back to the wrong uns that generally weren't turning much and one went right down the legside and the younger of the 2 bats (Not the opener) hit it and it went out to Phil who caught it with ease. I bowled 8 overs, no maidens and 43 runs were made off my bowling and took one wicket. So that's 6.69 runs per over? It'd be interesting to see everybody elses statistics and my stats from last year and all this years and see if there has been any improvement? I'm sure there has. I just hope that this winter I can get in the nets more than I did last year and get some help from Neil or Super Dave with regards getting a bit quicker.

Fielding initially I didn't see much action, I don't think I made any disasterous mistakes and generally fielded okay, backing other people up and running down a few balls preventing them reaching boundaries getting commended by Neil. I did have one while I was in a slips position that came off of Reece's bowling (I think) that I caught on the ground. It happened so fast that I wasn't 100% sure whether it had hit the ground and as I lay there with it in my hands after diving forward I was half expecting everyone to cheer but I looked up to see them all looking as equally unsure as I was. It was weird because someone said "Did it carry..... I don't think it did". The bat was looking at me horrified as he'd obviously looked round at the point it had ended up in my hands and even though it had happened just a second before part of my brain was replaying it back and I could then see it bounce inches in front of my hand, but at the same time so much of me wanted for it to be misconstrued as a catch that subconciously I was already on my way to believing it was a catch and it wasn't until someone said
"I don't think it did" that my brain saw the truth and I then said
"No I don't think it did either".
Neil took two of the tail enders including the old bloke who looked about 90. I hope I can still play cricket when I'm that age although he looked like he was having a bit of trouble getting up and down the wicket in the manner that he might have done once upon a time, but he was okay at batting but was let down by his general lack of speed and agility. Super Dave had been brought in towards the end of the game as well and he took a couple of the tail-enders depsite attempting a catch off of a very fast ball and not quite getting it and obviously hurting his hand in some way, but it didn't seem to affect his bowling. Other potential injury situations had been Lee with one that clouted him in the leg as he went down on his knee to stop a ball with his thigh - it must have hit his knee bone. The worst one was his brother Reece. He went for a potential bowled and caught off a ball that came out of the middle of the bat straight at him and he got his hands to it and deflected it and it still looked like it was going to make it to the boundary, but Reece went down and didn't get up clutching his hands under him for ages, eventually most of the others went and had a look with the exception of Me, his Dad (Phil) and his brother. I reckon from my own experience of my own kids the reason Phil didn't go over there was that in those situations a kid that's got that hurt potentially is far more likely to cry when his Dad turns up than if his mates are all around him showing him sympathy? Some of the other adults did go over and have a look half expecting him to be crying, but he didn't (It's a macho lark this cricket I tell ya)! Neil said to Reece "Take a breather" and Reece said no I'm alright I'll carry on bowling and sure enough the kid gets up and finishes off his over. Stern stuff these Downes kids a ball at 130 mph smack into your hands - that's not going to take them out of the game! I'd like my kids to have seen that - pretty impressive! On the Downes family front even though Phil had taken at least 2 or 3 catches and stopped numerous 4's from getting to the boundary Lee was commenting on his Dads fielding later saying "He's as bad as Mony Panesar"! Somewhat harsh I thought especially coming from Lee what with his ball through his hands and passing under him on my over earlier!

Their innings finished within 38 overs all out for 168 ncluding the extra's. If their fielding and bowling was going to be anything like their batting this wasn't going to last that long I though and there was a fair few oldies in the team. I was surprised then when "Grecian 2000" turned up as the opening bowler (Sorry bloke I don't know your name - but you're the older bloke with the grey hair and tache). He had a weird looking run up (Seam bowler) where he sets out getting a full head of steam up and then suddenly goes from running fast to almost stopping as he bowls. But it worked...... The two openers were Super Dave and Lee Downes and Lee went for a golden duck off of Grecian's first ball to him. Lee edged it and the wicket keeper gloved it safely. Lee's Dad Phil made his way out as Lee stormed back to the pavillion by-passing everyone making no comment at all. Turns out that's his 2nd golden in as many games. Grecian who's name may have been "Cowling" continued his over bowling towards the flats. Super was swinging his bat madly but not really getting anywhere. The bowling changed and another seam bowler "Mayling" kept up the pressure, much younger and much faster looking. Phil on strike hits all ball out to Deep Mid wicket and they manage to get 3 runs. Supers getting runs and suddenly it's a promising and busy looking wicket. The third over and Super hits a ball out to deep mid wicket and it only goes 2/3rds of the way and there's a fielder there and it's going straight down his throat in slow motion we all hold our breath as the fielder reaches and clasps his hands together only to drop it! Meanwhile with one man down, the bowling and the fact that Super looks like he's playing to get caught Swiss is looking to Neil for a game strategy - Neil asks him what kind of a game strategy he's going to play and I think his strategy is that he doesn't want to be on strike is Mayling is bowling! This is then proven as Phil is out with the next delivery bowled clean gone for 5!

"We could all be out within 10 overs if this keeps up"! Neil comments. He then makes the point that in situations like this where we have complete dominance over a game he opens the game up and makes sure it goes the full 40 overs by moving the bowling around so that the oppoistion get a sniff at scoring some runs and a possible chance that they might win, simply by taking the key bowlers off and giving the learners or the dibbly dobbly's a go. Makes for a much better game I reckon and you get your tenners worth.

Big Tony makes his way out onto the crease. We pick up 4 byes in the 4th over. Super hits another ball straight to slips and again he's dropped on another easy take. In the meantime the nice weather at the start of the game has now given way to ominous clouds that are moving in from the east but at the moment skirting the pitch on the North side where it looks like there's definite rain. Super's keeping the runs coming a nice leg glance goes for 4 out to fine leg bring the score up to 26 off of 6 overs for 2 wickets and I though the opposition had been struggling at something like 3.1 an over at a similar point in the game! The next over and Big Tony slices a ball out to Gully and is caught, so some of them can catch?

Swiss Tony then takes up the mantle none the wiser for his pep talk with Neil to join Super who's looking as though he might be looking to score a 50 which he hasn't done for some time. Swiss's first strike is a 4 out to third man. Next ball from Super goes out towards Mid wicket and he mis-fields it but Swiss interested but what with Super obviously looking to make runs and wanting to get on strike so he can further his 50 chance calls to run, but Swiss isn't interested but Super's 1/2 way down the track. Swiss shouts no, Super stops, Swiss then runs, Supers in two minds whether to go back and then starts heading back as he can see that the fileder is now about to throw the ball back, Swiss can see the same thing and they're both stranded in the middle, the ball is in the air now heading for Supers stumps, Supers on his way back stretching his bat and his arm and goes for a dive to get back in whilst Danny also scarmbles back to his own crease. A close call! Super hits a nice square cut for 4 out to deep backward point. Then within a another ball or two he's hitting balls over the tops of the slips chancing his luck.
I'm then put on square leg umpiring duty in a rush for some reason, I've got no counters and I don't have time to pick up a pullover and the weather is obviously getting worse by the minute. So it's still Swiss and Super, and me and Lee Downes umpiring with Lee doing the hard part, but he hasn't got a counter or anything either and I'm out there with my note book still trying to record the game for the blog (There must be rules against this sort of thing)! In the 2nd over I'm out there for there's a nice ball off of Mayling (I think) and as it passes Super I hear a noise that sounds like the ball just nicking the bat and the wicket keeper catches it nicely and a big shout goes up from both the keeper and the bowler. The wicket keepers looking at me - Super's looking at me and I'm looking at Lee and I'm thinking I need to see that on the big screen shall I do the 3rd umpire sign or something!!! I don't know what the rules are here in this situation, so I just thought Lee's the one that knows what he's doing - I heard it but didn't see anything so I'm saying nothing? What should I do in that situation - do I go and confer with Lee, tell him what I heard or just keep quiet. I opted for keeping quiet, but Super had looked at me in a way to suggest that as far as he was concerned that was the bat and he was out. What power does the square leg umpire have, does he ever lift the finger to say the bat goes or is that down to the main umpire. I'm under the impression that the square leg umpire is there for the decisions based on whether the bat get across the line in throw outs or has his bails taken when drawn out of the crease and no balls because of crease violations and height or bounce issues? Someone needs to give me some tuition!

Swiss hits another 4 out to Long on and then gets 2 runs off a ball he pushes over the tops of the slips. Super hits another nice square cut and gets another 2 runs to his tally as the 50 draws nearer, then Swiss hits a loopy high ball out to Mid wicket and is caught. Adam with the bad back comes out and looks very nervy, Adam's probably younger than he looks and is normally in one of the colt teams so he's probably not used to the full on bowling from Mayling. Adam's dismissed quickly caught off a ball he pushes gently out to short mid wicket. Reece joins Super and supers luck continues as he hits another skier right down Mid on's throat and again it's a foregone conclusion that it's going to be caught with the Yorkie having just crossed the boundary line on his way to replace him by the time the fielder gathers it in his hands only to drop it!!!!! Supers 50 gets even closer and all the Gods are conspiring to make it happen! Then just as we're all speculating as to how quickly it's going to happen he's clean bowled - gutted! Super goes for 42!Yorkie up next to bat with Reece.

With Swiss and Super both gone the pace of the game slows down, just having been taken off umpiring duty it starts to drizzle and the black clouds become more menacing. With super gone the likelyhood of a win is now down to the last few. Neil puts himself up the batting order to 10 pushing me down to 11, it's now looking very likely that I'm going to get to bat, but as every run is made it looks as though if I do get to bat my innings is going to be integral to winning and the pressure mounts. The run rate dries up as Super joins us and goes over his dismissal the ball had come off his elbow and then went onto the stumps. I ask him about the earlier ball that I thought was contencious, he assures me that it didn't touch his bat at all and that the noise was from his pads. Yorkie goes next quickly caught at mid-wicket. I'm given the nod to pad up, Neils already to go, this is not looking to promising, but there's loads of overs still in hand and it's do-able if someone makes a good stand. Chirpy takes Yorkie's place and we're still not on a 100 yet. For the first time they bring in a spinner - Goodrich and he's an off-spinner. Reece is handling the spin, but playing defensively but despite that he moves up into the position of being the 2nd highest scorer with 14 runs to his credit. It's looking more and more like I'm going to be in the game and if Reece is bowled soon my contribution to the game may be significant and again someone says "It looks like it might be down to you Dave to win us the game". Neils gagging to get on saying that the game is looking to be within our grasp.
Chirpy hits some nice square cuts and the runs start to accumulate and it looks like we might be in the game still. We're at 20 overs and we're on 99 runs for 7, meaning it's more or less up to these 2 and Neil to get us through. If they can get the score up to 4 short of the total we might have a chance if I then come in! The spinner is bowling to Reece and Reece edges the ball and is easily caught by the wicket keeper.
The match is now down to Chirpy and Neil and I sit in anticipation as the last man watching to see how they get on, all around me they're saying "It'll be down to you Dave - you've got to win the match for us". Yeah right - that's like asking Monty Panesar to do the same thing against the Aussie's when England require 50 and he's there with another tail ender! Neil makes a good start hitting a 4 out to Deep Square Leg. The run rate slows down and at 28 overs Neil and Chirpy are still there on 117. Matt at this point who's doing the scoring for us is beginning to get excited at the prospect that we may just do this if Neil and Chirpy keep plugging away at it and neither of them get out to allow me to lose the game for them! (My thoughts not Matt's words). The spinner who doesn't seem to be making any real impact on the game as the score continues to trickle on is looking as though he is in real anguish with his own bowling, we all observe him holding his head in his hands as though it's the end of the world and then at the end of one over he's on his knees with his head in his handsas though it's the end of the world! Okay so the sky is dark and it looks like it could be the end of the world - but man this bloke is beating himself up bad over his bowling and I thought I took it too seriously!
29 Overs and we're on 118. The weather is closing in a progressively looking as though it's going pour down any second. Grecian 2000 is back on and Neil and Chirpy bat on to 121 off 32 overs and I'm beginning to see my chance of a bat diminishing but with the inclusion of Grecian 2000 the run rate slows down. Then for some inexplicable reason Neil's adopted a tactic of getting down on his Knee to bat when he's facing the spinner and Matt is doing his nut "What's he doing that for! Stand up and bat the bloody ball - no wonder he's got a dodgy knee"! Kneel keeps on doing it but the runs are not coming to keep Matt happy "He's really annoying me now - trying to do all this fancy stuff - flicks and what have you"! When the ball is played there's a definite difference in who wants to run hard and who doesn't - Chirpy looks like he's gagging to run whereas Neils far more of your Inzamam Ul Huq in his approach.

At 34 overs done we're needing 46 runs and the game looks like it's either going to be scuppered by the rain or me. Then Chirpy is bowled and in I come and we're on 125. I make my way out on to the sqaure Super Dave is umpiring and as I walk out the oppo shout "This aint how it was supposed to be in the blog is it"? Dave explains that he's been telling them they'll be in the blog. I'm facing Grecian he bowls a fastish one at me it looks safe and I leave it, but it's bloody close and everyone goes ooohh! The next one I swing at and it and it flies off towards 3rd man and we run 2 taking the score up to 127. It's now raining properly and Grecian runs in bowls it I swing at it and it's all over and everyone makes a run for it in driving rain. 127 all out! They won!
Again evaluating how I've done, the general feeling is that in comparison with last year I have made improvements. The interesting thing is that the wicket came off what can only be described as an atrocious that should have gone slightly wide of the off stump with the intention that it then turned. Instead it went a foot or more wide of the leg stump and the bloke went after it and resulted in Phil cathcing it. The thing is, everytime I threw a wide, un-named members of my team would make references to another spin bowler in our team who regularly produces wides. But the thing is he takes a lot more wickets than I do as far as I know. It'll be interesting to see his averages compared to mine at the end of the season and maybe next season set my own personal target on beating his figures as there's no way that I'll be getting anywhere Neil! What I am better at is that I throw a lot less wides - hopefully averaging out to just short of one an over and now when I do I'm not phased by it, whereas before as I've probably mentioned previously in the blog I used to be really affected by the fact that I had bowled a wide and would then lose my concentration and produce more wides as a results and each time this would just exacerbate the situation and make it worse. Another area I would like to be able to improve on is my speed

The game next week with the MCCC is on and it's going to made up of entirely G&CCC players. I don't know if I'm in the team that'll play them for sure as it does sound like we'll be putting out 3 teams? I'd imagine I will be and it does sound like Neil will as well. The Tilbury boys will like my inclusion if I am, as like last time they'll be gagging to throw the ball at me (Nothing ever changes). The openers were Reece and Chirpy and they both did really well especially as the wind was blowing at about force 6 across the wicket from left to right if your were bowling from the pavillion end. At one point a ball was kicked onto the pitch so chirpy went to kick it back off the pitch into the wind and it went up and then backwards over his head and ended up blown across the far boundary. Looking at the wind I was hoping that I'd be given the pavillion end to bowl from so that my Wrong uns got some assistance with their turn. Neil did this but it didn't make that nuch difference to my bowling. I've still got so much to learn and hopefully I'll be able to get in the nets this winter.