Grays & Chadwell CC v Winstanley Park XI (Wigan)
A lovely Saturday morning blue skies a bit of an Easterly breeze and the prospect of some cricket after last weeks PB on the bowling front. The only thing was I hadn't heard from Neil whether I was playing at home or away or in fact whether I even had a game. My phone had run out of credit last week and I was avoiding paying for some new credit whist at the same time I didn't have any computer access other than at work and the last two weeks have been hell with very little time. I'd called Neil a couple of times and had got his answer phone and left a message but none of the messages had been returned so I was beginning to think it was either the wrong number or he only does text messages? So I was forced to go and top up my phone credits which I didn't mind too much as I was killing two birds with one stone in that I also sorted my subs money out e.g. I got it out of the cash machine outside the shop where I did the top up.
In fact at this point good fortune so far was smiling on me - as I'd cycled up the shop and crossed the road my glasses fell out of my pocket and into the middle of the road, I was up on the path before I realised what had happened only to notice that a VW golf was bearing down on them and they were right where the wheels would pass. I got the drivers attention and pointed to them and he slowed down and purposely avoided them and I was able to retrieve them.
Once home I sent Neil a text and within a matter of seconds he'd answered saying yes I'd got a game. I replied asking when we'd be kicking off and again within seconds he replied "We're here now setting up - it's a 12.30 start". I looked around at my family, they were right in the middle of doing homework, even Joe was settled and working well and they were all expecting me to join in and help.
"Any chance of a lift it's an earlier start today"? Strewth the reaction from Michelle was more akin to me having asked "Any chance I can have a divorce so I can run off with 20 year old page 3 model"?
The drive to Blackshots was conducted in silence with everyone looking as though we'd just had our dog put down or something. But I got there before the opposition and helped set up. Neil put me on sweeping up duty as I'd turned up late and I had to sweep up some piles of rubbish that had been swept out of the changing rooms. I mentioned to some of the blokes about how much grief playing cricket gets me in and one of them suggested that it might be an idea to try and get tickets for all of us to go and see one of the test match games in the summer next year as his wife was pretty much the same but having seen a test match suddenly came round to the idea of cricket being a positive force in life. It may be worth a punt?
The Wizard was there and we soon got down to some bowling practice while the others all looked on taking the Michael. There were a couple of blokes hanging around who looked like they were on our side who I didn't know but most of the faces were familiar but we were looking as though we were short on bowlers. The opposition soon arrived and they were all older big geezers in their mid 30's and older, the sort of blokes that looked as though they new what they were about. I heard Neil say he was worried about them as they might be exceptionally good. I was expecting a team from Hornchurch but it sounded to me like they were all Northerners? It turmed out that they were - they were from somewhere outside the M25, somewhere called Wigan, but strangely they didn't have moustache's like most of those northern types do, but they did look like those blokes that play that strange game that poshies play round this way - Rugby?
We were fielding first and the team was as follows - (Batting order)
Nick Buckley (Wkt Keeper)
Super Dave Gaylor
Cameron the Kid Daly
Alex McClellan (The Wizard)
Me (Dave Thompson)
The blokes that were new to me were Phil No.2 and Roy who I've seen around the club spectating and drinking but have never played in a game with them and the kid Cameron who looked about 13.
There first bat was Billy Hunt who could show Steve Austin a thing or two and Super Dave was up to prove that he wasn't such a superman. Super's first few overs were blinding with appreciative oohs and aaahs coming from Neil and those that could see what was going on and our start looked very good because they simply were not making any runs. 13 minutes in and Super put an end to Billy Hunts attempt at world domination and had him out for 0. Maybe this was Karma for having Super entered as 'Gaylord' in the scorebook. Meanwhile bowling from the estate end we had (as described in the scorebook) Benwell AKA Samwell. How Samwell ended up as Benwell I don't know but it may have something to do with our Cockeney accents depsite the fact that we've all got South Essex accents (Well I have)? Anyway Neil was bowling well and maintaining an extremely low run rate along with Gaylord. At this point the run rate was less than 1 an over and we'd already taken a wicket and I was wondering whether this was going to be a repeat of last weeks game where at no point did the oppo make any real attempt at scoring runs. I beginning to think is this usual and something to do with fatigue at the end of the season and other shite excuses usually offered up by lamo footballers?
Both Neil and Dave bowled really well and by the 10th over the Wigan boys had only just reached double figures with it being less than 2 per over. The new bloke that had replaced Billy Hunt was at this point playing a really cautious innings too. It looked as though soon there'd be a bowling change and looking around at our side it looked as though it would be the much derided right arm spin coupling of me and the Wizard.
But before that just a comment or two on the fielding. Earlier on off of Neils bowling while I was fielding at Mid on or thereabouts one of their blokes hit a ball out my way to my right and I went after it knowing that I could get there if I got a lot of body behind it but it would require going to ground and I didn't want to go diving right, so I went beyond it to then fall on my left side thus blocking the ball. I mistimed it and it passed under me going for 4 screwing up Neils impeccable bowling figures up to that point. That was my only cock up of the whole day in the field. One of the new blokes Phil the 2nd looked a bit jaded and had something of a decoy player about him, he missed a few chances that went straight his way, but at this point it didn't look to worrying as their run rate was exceedingly poor and Neil had been so concerned about this teams potential. Me and the Wizard would soon be at hand to help them out!
The change over saw me and the Wizard bowling from opposing ends. The wizard was bowling from the Flats end and I was at the bowling end. I think both of us had opportunites to get wickets denied from dropped catches and the like, I don't generally dwell on these too much because as with the incident during Neils spell I screw up and so does everyone else at times. The only one I can recall was a little edge off the bat that Nick should have had as it hardly deviated off it's line and yet Nick was nowhere near it and it and it went past him down the offside. The thrid man in was some bloke called Hetherington who did start to make runs but I put a stop to him with Wrong Un that was a lot slower than the previous balls and he went after it far too early and it went past him and turned in and hit the off stump. So that was nice to have hit the stumps rather than have it caught. I kind of like the idea of being able to draw them out of their crease so that the wicket keeper has their bails off, maybe next year? Both The Wizard (Who's was named as "Merlin" in their scorebook) and I bowled 6 overs each I was hit for 43 and took one wicket. The wizard was hit for 42 but no wicket so in the Super Dave's Thompson v The Wizard battle I think I won that one? The wizard bowled a bunch of wides as well including 3 in his last over and I think looking at the scorebook I only threw 1 wide? But then you look at Neils stats 21 runs off of 12 overs and a wicket and you can see how much better he is then us!
Roy Gant was up next and bowled 3 overs and went for 21 runs with no wicket. Cameron Daly was pretty good he bowled 3 overs and went for 14 with no wicket. Supposedly he was bowling leg spin, Neil had said something along the lines of "Here we go then - we're going to see how you should bowl RH Leg spin now" with reference to the Wizards and my bowling. He did well as the figures suggest, but it looked a bit unorthodox and I couldn't see if he was getting the ball to turn. Chris Buckers had two overs and went for 21. Lee Downes had an over went for 5 and bowled the bloke clean and then Neil and Super came on and had a few overs each. Super was running out of steam by the time he was retired from bowling but he had taken another wicket and Neil bowled the last. From a ridiculously slow start they'd ended up getting 222 for 6. There were a couple of blokes that did well Darbyshire looked very impressive during his time at the crease he brimmed confidence and technique and scored shed loads of runs really quickly including a 6. He was an older bloke - late 40's early 50's maybe obviously got a few years of cricket under his belt looking at the way he played.
Have a look at the score sheets for more details.
Then it was teas. Teas included fish, chips and beans which went down well with some nice cheese cake. There was some lovely Salmon sandwhiches as well - we were spoilt for choice, the only crticism might be that there wasn't enough chocolate for my liking, other than that it was very commendable. Such a civilised game cricket.
Then it was our turn to bat and see if we could match their performance. It was generally agreed that it was some ask as the side we were playing had been subjected to some last minute poaching by the 1st team who were playing away. Phil Downes and Nick Buckley it seems have been dogged by bad form of late and someone else said that Chris Buckley was half the man he'd been last year and all season had been playing with a lack of confidence, so it looked like it was down to ton up boy of the moment Lee Downes and Super Dave.
Nick out of form Buckley faced the first over from the flats end the bowling was slow straight from the outset and Nick survived poking one ball over the top of the close in fielders with big looping ball that seemed to be in the air for an age inviting a catch from anyone who might have had a bit of spark about them, but fortunately being older blokes they were lacking spark. Super faced the next over and survived seemingly quite comfortably. Nick in the 3rd over hit another ball in exactly the same area in exactly the same manner out to Extra Cover but having seen it once their only sprightly fielder who had the look of Herschel Gibbs about him and was younger than the rest came racing in while the ball was in the air for about 10 seconds and slid in only to fumble it after covering about 50' to get there having passed about 2 or 3 of their more pedestrian players who I think were using zimmer frames. So Nick survived again.
At this point we were in front of their score 6 runs off of 4 overs but Nick's luck didn't hold out much longer he edged a ball that went straight up in the air above him meaning the wicket keeper had to take 2 paces and caught it easily. Super Dave hit our first four out to long on after being joined by the Decoy player Phil G (Sorry Phil can't read your name off of the scorebook). But this is where Phil the Decoy comes into his own. Phil's one of those blokes that hasn't played cricket since he was a kid 20 - 25 years ago and this is his first ever real match. He'd walked out to the wicket suggesting that he'd be back in the next few seconds but straight from the outset he was hitting the ball, then came the fours, not one, not two but four fours! Buy the time Phil made his way back to the pavillion having been run out, he'd hit the ball and it had gone straight up the wicket and been heading for a bloke at 1st slips. All through his innings Phil had been riding his luck having been mis-fielded and dropped time and time again. Having hit the ball hard and seeing it heading off to this bloke he's assumed that it would be another mis-field and shouted 'Yes' to Super. But the bloke stopped it, dropped it and picked it up, the law of averages was on Phil's side (So he thought) Phil was barely past the half way point on the wicket and the bloke took aim and threw it directly at the stumps and he was gone. He'd made 30 runs! Which just confirms my belief that some people can bat and it's a natural ability, maybe these are the people that with a bit of guidance and coaching can go on to be really good batsmen, whereas others like me will probably always be crap at it?
With Phil on 30 all of the players on the boundary line and doing the scoring were half hoping that Super wouldn't make it to level and go past Phil just so they could have a pop at him. At 16 overs we were on 61 thanks to Phil's impressive innings. He'd now been replaced by Phil Downes and Super was next to go
Whilst waiting to bat or do umpiring duties I threw some balls at Phil and Cameron the Kid and during the warm up with Cameron I threw a few balls that were an attempt at small leg breaks and again like other forays into the art of Leg Break they worked. Needless to say there's lots of work to be done on line and length, but just to get the ball to go towards the off-side is a good start and makes me feel optimistic about the prospects of Sept 30th when the commitment to full time Leg Break training kicks in. Another promising thing happened when I was bowling at Phil. I bowled a few Gippers at him and they were okay with the line and length but not much spin, but Phil said that one of them had some good drift? If I could repeat that at will that'd be interesting?
Sunday Michelle had arranged to drive to Frinton - a beach-side town up Clacton way. All I knew of it was that it was known for not having a pub or arcades or things like chip shops, which sounded alright as it might mean there'd be no riff raff - blokes with DA haircuts in thier 50's and 60's walking around in leather jackets with tassles on humming Elvis songs - you know the sorts. I wasn't particularly up for it as there's a field 100 foot from my house and only so many dry weekends in which to play cricket in, but I tried to be of a cheery disposition. But I've got to say it was a result. If there was a beach on which you could play cricket - this is it. The sand is flat and dense, none of that undulating rubbish you get at places like Camber Sands, this is smooth and firm and takes a bit of a pounding before you have to move the stumps over because of the bowlers foot holes. Then when the tide comes in there's a nice bit of grass at the top of the grassy cliff where you park your car. For a cricket/beach day I reckon if you took your own beer it gets a 8 out of 10.