Sunday, May 12, 2013

Basildon & Pitsea 4th XI v Orsett 5th XI

I had a number of expectations of this match, shared by some of the other members. First off, Orsett are a big set up in these parts, very good facilities and a reputation of being consistent winners. They're rumoured to turn players away and new players in some of the teams have to prove their worthiness to be taken on to the clubs books as such, so with these things in mind I thought that this was quite likely to be another massacre. The other expectation, was the weather. All of the websites and reports indicated that this was very likely to be rained off. With regards to my own expectations of my own performance I chose to reserve judgement and decided to see how it went.

Over-night it rained and with no covers it meant that the wicket would be fairly soggy and then around 10.00hrs it rained again for another 20 minutes or so and it was looking a little sketchy as to whether there would be a game. I checked the website and there were no updates so it looked as though it was still all systems go. The rain was followed by some sunshine and the continued blustery wind, so it wasn't long before it the ground was dry again, but it wasn't warm by any stretch of the imagination - around 12 degrees centigrade. As we left, I suggested to Ben that he wore a good few layers and took a coat with him. He didn't take a lot of notice, I took my coat and a woolly hat.

12.15hrs and we arrived. Pat Ayres was there and a couple of blokes I didn't recognise. The Orsett blokes were there already and first impressions was that they looked pretty formidable, but on close inspection the team looked pretty well balanced and very similar to the make up of our team. The sunshine that had followed the rain earlier had given way to dark clouds racing across the sky from the south west, diaganolly across the wicket, so anyone bowling from the Eastern end would be doing so into a brisk and blustery wind of about force 5 on the Beaufort Scale . It looked as though there was a level of certainty that at some it would rain. The captain conducted the toss and we ended up batting.

Reagan Mead and one of the other adults Chris Debond opened as discussions about who was going to score and who was going to umpire ensued as we all looked at each other muttering about the fact that none of us were particularly confident in any of these departments. The captain Sean Healy who was batting further down the order started the scoring and Anthony Ayres and Jimmy Breeze went out as umpires and the game got underway. The wicket was very damp and it soon became apparent that there was a degree of unpredictability in the wicket as Reagan played through a ball that literally got stuck in the wicket and didn't come on to the bat, crashing into his stumps. With his head bowed in disgust he made his way back to the sheds knowing that he was going to have to endure another 5 or 6 hours contemplating his sorry start to the season. Such are the travails of an opening batsman.

Yash Patel then made his way out to the middle and hit his first ball over the top of Mid-off almost to the boundary. His follow up ball was a 4 through the on-side between mid on and mid-wicket and then somewhere in his first over he hit at least one ball straight into the air to the fielder, who thankfully spilled it. The wind may have been a factor, because Yash didn't change tactics and continued in this manner for much of his innings, being put down again and again off of balls that were hit way up into the air falling short of the boundary and going pretty much to the fielders. Despite the efforts of the fielders with the ball swirling around in the air they couldn't hold onto one and this happened probably 7 times if not more! As Yash smashed the ball to all areas of the ground, he was joined by a number of batsmen that made valuable contributions to the run tally. After just a few overs we were in an impressive position of going at 10 or 11 an over with Chris hitting boundaries along with Yash. The bowling at this stage was all pace bowling with very interesting attributes, at one end the bounce seemed to be very unpredictable in that the ball seemed to leave the pitch with an increased angle in comparison with its entry trajectory. The other end where Reagan was bowled the ball hardly bounced at all initially.

Chris fell for 29 eventually to a lad called Stock who bowled him clean. At this point there was an umpire change and no-one had put their hand up and I had to go out there as the main umpire standing behind the stumps whilst Frank Farrington did the Square Leg umpiring. Not an ideal situation as it's not an area I'm that confident with and something I need to work on. Initially Frank and I were over-seeing Paul Card, who'd joined Yash, added another 7 before being caught by Shaheed off of Stocks bowling, whilst Yash carried on his onslaught. Jamie Britton (WK) joined Yash for a brief appearance and went shortly for 0 being caught by Shaheed off of Thomas's bowling. Around about the same time Frank Farrington who was umpiring at Square Leg was hit square on the knee by a shot from Yash and he went down and had to retire from the game and was later collected by his Dad. News off of Facebook reports that his Dad says he's sore, but he's in good spirits and should be okay. If you're having a look in Frank/Mark - hope you have a speedy recovery!

With Frank gone, that meant that we were down on a key batsman and bowler and a fielding situation where we might struggle. In the meantime Yash was going great guns and Ben (My son) who has never umpired in his life or taken a blind bit of notice of cricket on the television was recruited to take over from Frank at square leg. A quick set of instructions and a some reassurance from him that he had some vague idea of what he should be doing and the game commenced. Our stint lasted around 10 overs standing in the freezing cold wind - I had a woolly hat on and an over-coat underneath my umpires coat, plus a cricket jumper and wasn't too bad. Ben in the mode of a youngster was nowhere near as prepared and froze his nuts off! Nothing happened that was contentious and we got away with our masquerading as umpires!

But as soon as I'd escaped that duty I was put on scoring duty as the captain Sean Healey got ready for his batting stint. In the meantime Jimmy Breeze, one of the U16's made his way out to the middle and started to make his contribution. He made 24 before being caught and bowled by Stock. I think Stock was out there when I was umpiring and he looked pretty useful as a bowler, he had an off-cutter which came back in nicely and would easily be my un-doing if I was facing him. Meanwhile, I was struggling with the scoring because the weather had taken a turn for the worse with the cloud thickening and the light diminishing, with my eyesight poor in such light I was struggling to see what I was doing and like my umpiring it's not something I'm confident with and it transpired later that I'd made a bit of a hash of it.

At this point the people that were looking over my shoulder were adding up Yash's score and assuring me that he was reaching his hundred. Yash did,  it making his maiden 100 and went on to score 115 not out. Anthony Ayres joined the fun and scored a couple of singles in increasingly heavier rain, but eventually the captain beckoned Yash in and the game was stopped for the expected rain. This was at a point where they had been discussing declaring and once back in the shed we adjourned for tea with some expectation that this current rain was looking to be the death knell of the game. We'd have tea and see what happens in the interim.

Tea for Ben was one of the highlights having come up from the U15's where they only get a cup of orange squash and a couple of biscuits. So Ben filled and re-filled his plate a couple of times filling himself with all the goodies that were on offer. In the meantime, the rain had stopped and the clouds had broken and the sun almost came out. People on texts and FB were saying that all around us it was pouring down with rain and that they couldn't believe that we were still playing. The declaration has been made over tea and it was our turn to field with a man down. The opposition having to chase 212.

Our bowling/fielding...

Our opener was Sean Healey, the captain bowling from the west end with the wind behind him. I don't recall seeing him bowl before, but he was a very tidy bowler with a clever slow ball from what I could see. I was fielding at square leg, so couldn't really see what line he was bowling but generally it looked spot on and the fielders behind the stumps - Jamie (WKT), Chris Debond - slips and Yash 2nd slips at different stages with different batsmen all in obvious and vocal appreciation of whatever was happening. From my vantage point I could see that the bounce was being maintained in the same manner as the first innings in that it was exceptionally different from one ball to another, some low and some very steep! Sean came away with 13-2-18-2 of which one of the maidens was a wicket maiden.

Ben Thompson (My son) was the 2nd bowler, bowling from the east end bowling into the wind. He bowled 6 overs, five of them at the start of the game and then he was restricted by the fact that he's only fourteen from bowling anymore until another 10 overs had been bowled. Looking at the score-sheet below, they also struggled with their scores and they seem to have scrubbed one of Ben's overs out marking him as having not taken any wickets whereas he did take one wicket. How the confusion happened I don't know, but he was hit for 4 in his 5th over, because I myself was thinking yeah it looks as though this 5 over rule is a good idea, as it looks like he's now struggling a little and needs a rest.  So I reckon that scrubbed out over is a pretty true reflection of what he bowled, there's a no-ball in there as well and I'm pretty sure he bowled a couple of no-balls. So looking at the score book I reckon he came away with 6-0-13-1, which for his first adult game is pretty good. Ben took Wigley's wicket with Yash Patel catching the ball at slip. Ben made the additional contribution in taking a catch at Mid-off, from Sean Bowling.

The wicket-keeper Jamie Britton I felt was very good and sharp, I don't recall that a ball went past him, certainly if any did they didn't go anywhere near the boundary and would have gone for two runs at the very most and if it did happen it must have been once at the most.

Jimmy Breeze took over from Ben and bowled excellently coming away with 8-4-13-2. I think he almost had three where Ben nearly took a jumping catch over his head at Mid-off, stopping it going for 4, but he wasn't able to hang on to it.

To be honest without Frank we were lacking in bowling to some extent, with only me as far as I'm aware as a spin option and probably unknown to the captain Sean. So he turned to Yash Patel once Jimmy was done to bowl from the east end into the wind and he gave Anthony Ayres the west end with the wind behind him. Anthony, only started to bowl at the end of last year when he was made redundant as  the youth wicket keeper. He did really well with his bowling in his first forages into bowling and now here he was bowling up the order in front of me! The cheek of it! Anthony's bowling for some reason isn't recorded, I'd swear that again Sean let him bowl his full compliment of 5 overs before I came on after him. On the score sheet Orsett seem to have him down as 'Ed' and have only recorded two overs. I recall he took at least one wicket caught by Sean at Mid-on as I remember how jubilant he was at getting the wicket. I've got a sneaky suspicion that he may have taken 2 wickets, but I'm not 100%?

In the meantime Yash Patel was having fun bowling in a manner that can only be described as unorthodox. Many of the balls bowled at pace with a cross seam were banged in very short coming round the wicket. Again on the bowling analysis (See below) two wickets are recorded, but not in the tally and I do recall that Yash did take a couple. The second one was outrageous - a ball banged in about 9 yards from the bowler that had all the sting taken out of it and therefore floated up towards the batsman, who was an older gentleman, who you'd have thought would have seen a lot of bowling in his life and would have just ducked or moved to one side and smiled. But instead he was tempted and waved his bat at it, flicking it up gentle looping above Jamie for an easy catch behind the stumps having stepped backwards a few steps with all the time in the world. Ben said no - that's wrong, that bloke should be told to come back out of decency and the fact that the bowling was so bad... I'd have had to apologise to him, I'd have been embarrassed to call that a wicket.

Then it was my turn. As my spell approached I was aware that I had a full bladder and new that if I bowled like that it would put me off, so I asked the captain and missed an over of fielding. This ties in with Peter Philpotts theory that your head has to be in the right place and if there's any extraneous factors that can take your mind off the task at hand, these have to be dealt with. So I was given the ball and I had tail-enders to contend with, but one of these kids was already spanking the ball about with some ease and apparent skill and looked to have taken a liking to Anthony's bowling. But with all the stuff I'd been doing in the nets of late - especially the experience in the nets in West Hallam and return to using the wrong-un I had a plan. A very simple one... Bowl a series of leg breaks and see how it goes, so going over the stumps looking to bowl an off-stump line I started to set the trap. The kid on strike for most of the over was the more confident four hitter (Edwards). He hit me for four first ball over the top of Mid-off (Ben) who was up tempting him to do just that. With the leg break the ball wasn't turning that much hence he was able to strike the ball cleanly. Sean changed the field, pushing Ben back a bit further and who-ever was at mid on right back to the boundary but relatively straight. The next ball I tossed up a bit fuller and Edwards hit the ball along the ground straight to Paul Card at mid wicket which I was happy about for a single. The other kid that was now on strike Shahidy who was also hitting clean fours off of Anthony's bowling, so I pitched the ball up and he too hit the ball through to Paul at Mid-wicket rotating the strike again. The next ball went for 2 over the top of my head, someone shouted catch it... maybe if I was another 20 years younger I might have stood a chance!, But Edwards was playing with a straight bat and obviously accounting for the slight break off the wicket to leg and unbeknown to me doing so from just out of his crease. Irrespective of this my next ball was going to be my wrong-un which generally when it comes out right turns far more than my leg break. Thankfully it went 75% right - the flight was right, the length was right and where it pitched was right... landing just wide of off-stump it broke sharply going straight through the gate and missing everything going way wide of the leg-stump, but then... I saw Jamie effortlessly glide to the leg-side and break the bails. I looked up and the finger went up - Wicket - stumped! Off a wrong-un and to a plan! I was well chuffed.

The new bloke came in and I bowled a slightly different line - leg stump with a little more pace, as far as I was aware the kid missed it and he was plumb LBW and for once in my life I went up for an appeal along with some of the others with some enthusiasm! (I'm lame at appealing). Umpire said it was bat first. First over 1 for 8. Then Ben came on at the other end, so it was a father and son bowling attack -pace at one end and wrist-spin at the other. There was one wicket left to take - who was going to do it me or Ben? Ben bowled well again after his break, bowling 4 dot balls and then got hit for 2 by Shahidi, followed by another dot ball. He hadn't done it and Mitchell, the No.11 was on strike with no runs to his name. The money must have now been on me to finish the game off? The first ball was a dot ball and then the second ball was hit back over my head gently towards mid-off where Ben was and I turned to see Ben take the catch and finish the game off! I finished with 1:2-0-8-2. Plus a catch off of Seans Bowling at Square Leg to take Wigleys wicket.

All in all a very good start to the season and a brilliant match to start Ben's adult cricket season off with. I often wonder how interested and committed Ben is to the sport? I've mentioned here today that he never watches it on tele and he hates the idea of sitting down and watching a 4-5 day test even against the Aussies! I even get the sense that sometimes he's worried about getting hit by the ball when batting, to the point where I think that sometimes he'd rather not play. But then again he's a bit like me with a lot of the things that I like doing, in that he can't be that bothered at the outset and the whole thing feels like aggro, but once you get there and get on with it you love it. But, Ben came away from this buzzing, he loved every aspect of it, no doubt helped by the fact that it was such an emphatic win which as you can see he was integral to. He said... One of the best things was the batting and the fact that the batsmen weren't swinging at it like it was a T20 game, they batted properly. Which I thought was an interesting comment to make from someone that never watches cricket.

I was well impressed with Seans captaincy. At some point in the game when Ben was bowling and I think he did the same with Jimmy he had a three man slip cordon which I've never seen in club cricket before unless it's been a tail ender and I think Ben's wicket occurred in that scenario? I took a catch off his bowling at position slightly back of square leg. Initially I'd stood forward of square leg and he moved me just a few yards and within a matter of a few balls the ball came straight at me!

So for our first game together as a combo we did quite well. Ben taking his wicket for  6-0-13-1, and the addition of two catches one off of Sean's bowling at Mid-on and one off my bowling at Mid-on again. I got 1:2-0-8-2 and took one catch for Sean at Square Leg.

Basildon & Pitsea 212 including 123* not out for Yash Patel.
Orsett 5th XI - 87 all out
Basildon & Pitsea 4th XI
Back left to right. Sean Healey Captain, Jimmy Breeze, Yash Patel, Chris Debond, Jamie Britton (WKT), Paul Card & Anthony Ayres.
Front left to right - Reagan Mead, Ben Thompson and Dave Thompson (AKA Someblokecalleddave)

Note to both teams involved and self. Learn how to score properly* and don't forget your glasses!
Check out my other blog here - this is all about Leg-spin bowling and nothing else. Double click on the image below.