Sunday, May 11, 2014

B&PCC 4th XI v Billericay 4th XI - Langdon Hills Rec

B&PCC 4th XI v Billericay 4th XI - Langdon Hills Rec (My first game as Captain).

So the quick news is we lost, I had 11 players, the weather wasn't a total wash-out and nothing really bad happened.

09.15hrs and I'm still laying in bed thinking I should get up soon (Well it is the weekend)! Then the unfamiliar sound of my phone ringing caught my attention in another room, I dived out of bed thinking it would be Neil Samwell and when I picked it up it was an unfamiliar voice who announced that he was the captain of the opposition. Hmmm... people are giving my phone number out to random people, I guess this must be normal practice? Anyway he was worried about the weather saying that he was having to come in from Surrey to play. I quickly glimpsed outside and it looked as though it had rained recently, but wasn't at the moment and the sky looked gloomy, but not as if it might rain. He asked about the drainage, I said it'd be fine and that was enough it was game on.

I sent a text to my mate from Grays - Neil, using a number from a few years ago and then got on with getting ready. Read through Dave Ayres new captains instructions and made another list of things to ask once I went down the club.

11.30hrs and I meet Dave and Lee Dutton (Thank God he turned up)! I ask a few more questions, pick up some more stuff - juice for drinks and the first aid kit. Abdul Baig, one of our U15's turned up to replace Robert Wakefield and we then made our way to the ground via my house to pick up Joe and Ben. All the time I was still hoping that I'd get a call or text from Neil saying he was on his way.

12.20 and I arrive and there's already most of both teams there all waiting. There's a whole load of things I need to do and remember... Get the money, find all the stuff, put the flags out, find an 11th player, find the captain of the opposition, fill in some card or other, I've got another bloke asking me about the kids in our side, telling me he's x amounts of kids in his side. I've got one eye on the weather and someone telling me that local lad Tim Brown (B&PCC U15's) has already cycled down to see if we need another player?

Somewhere amongst the mayhem, the toss happens and I win and consult Lee. We bowl first. I think that's what I'd have done if it had been down to me. All around me, the other blokes and lads without being asked are doing all the right stuff - the flags, the table, chairs, stumps are all being carried out on the field. There's no bails, I've got bails including lignum vitae ones, they're taken from my bag... "Make sure I get them back" I tell Ben or whoever it was that takes them. Neil turns up to see how I'm doing and lend a hand with the admin side of the process - again thanks for that Neil.

12.55 in a howling force 5 south westerly e.g. blowing from right to left  as you look at the pitch from the clubhouse at Langdon Hills Ben (My older son) opened the bowling from the western end with the wind behind him. At the other end - into the wind was Tony Harms. This is Tony's 2nd game, having not played any cricket for 7 years or so.

Player Profiles per batting order

1. Gary Savage - First game for years, coming out of long term retirement (All rounder) with experience.
2. Lee Dutton - 4th XI regular right arm off-spinning all rounder.
3. Jamie Britton - 4th XI regular Wicket keeper batsman
4. Stuart Munday - 2nd game - coming out of long term retirement (All rounder)? With experience.
5. Joe Thompson - Under 13's bowler - first ever league game with adults.
6. Tim Brown - U15's 4th XI player.
7. Ben Thompson - 15's bowler & 4th XI player (2nd season)
8.Abdul Baig U15's all rounder, first ever adult league game
9.Liam Harms U15's bowler, first ever adult league game 2nd game of cricket ever in any format!!!
10.Tony Harms - 2nd game after years of being away from the game - bowler?
11.Dave Thompson - 4th XI regular (Wrist Spinner).

The opposition on the other hand only had a few under-age players and they were all listed as being U15's. They looked as though they were generally fitter and younger with only two older gents to add to the youngsters, so six of the players looked like players who could be in their prime.

They got off to a reasonable start.
Ben Thompson B&PCC U15's (My older son).
Ben bowled really well - a good line and length with variable pace and the odd bouncer here and there seemingly targeting the weaker of the two batsmen. Tony who was bowling into the wind struggled a little and couldn't find any form. Ben had several LBW shouts but the umpire turned all of them down - ball pitched outside of the line, going down leg etc. But generally Ben's bowling performance was sound with appreciation being shown by the new players who've never seen him bowled before. That really buoyed Ben, he really feeds off of positive feedback in those situations, especially when it's coming from older, experienced players in the team. At the end of the match, despite the fact that we lost comprehensively he said that he'd really enjoyed the game! Ben came away with figures of 9-2-30-1. The wicket he took was that of S.Levi who was set to reach a 100 and had been smacking the rest of us around. Ben put an end to his innings on 92.

Next up was Stuart Munday and Liam Harms, Liam bowling into the wind the same as his Dad. Liam proved to be the better bowler, taking our first wicket and going for less runs than his Dad, in fact bowling quite well, something that had been noted in training by John Bonnett. Liam came away with 5-0-24-1 taking the opening batsmans wicket with a LBW having score 19. Hopefully he'll be enthused by that and will continue to take wickets for us?

Stuart bowled really well having not bowled in years, I wasn't in a position to see what he was bowling, but it looked like the bowling of an off-spinner or a medium pacer... massive variation in flight and pace and very miserly going for only two runs an over and only just missed out on a spectacular bowled and caught opportunity. Spectacular, in that Stuarts probably a little older than I am (I'm 53) and has a persona at the moment that seems under-stated, so from Ben's perspective, he's just one of the older wiser, experienced players, not known for acrobatics and feats of agility. But, when a ball came off the bat - mistimed, looping up in the air just to Stuarts right, he instantly turned into a panther with an incredible arcing dive almost catching the ball! Ben said... "Me and Tony Harms were incredulous, Stuart pulled this dive off- out of nowhere and he was horizontal in the air for what seemed like ages! We were laughing so hard - it was just totally unexpected"!!!

Next up was Lee Dutton bowling into the wind replacing Liam and he bowled in tandem with Stuart initially. Lee was up against S.Levi for much of the time and had a bit of a torrid time with chances not being taken in the field. S.Levi who could obviously bat a bit simply changed his strokes and just targeted the kids hitting the ball their way hard and for much of the time they just backed off. Ben almost go one that was skied out to deep square leg but ended up parrying it for four. A couple came my way hard and fast at mid-wicket. One I slowed down and another slightly easier one, was above my head perceived out of reach. Lee ended up with figures of 7-0-69-1 taking M.Levi LBW.

I took over at Stuarts end with the wind behind me. Somehow - out of nowhere I bowled really well, although in the paddock in recent days I've been bowling okay. I was bowling a very good line with some nice turn off the wicket and I found the edge twice with Jamie putting the ball down on both occasions which is a shame and another ball was hit looping up into the air for what looked like a rudimentary catch by Liam at cover. Unfortunately it bounced out of his hands and he wasn't able to hold onto it.

In my 2nd from last over I took a wicket, I'd already given Gary the nod that he could take over at my end once I'd bowled 6,, the ball turning, coming off the face of the bat and hitting the bail of the off-stump - pinging it into Jamie's glasses Mark Boucher style, breaking his glasses and piercing the skin below his eye. If it wasn't for his glasses it may have been far worse? Jamie a little dazed it seemed, said he was okay and that he'd carry on playing without his glasses.

On reflection the question that arises out of the fact that I bowled really well is why did that happen? What did I do that was different? Well, for a start as captain I knew I was going to bowl, if I'd have bowled poorly I'd have probably followed the same kind approach that I've seen other captains take e.g. take me off after 4 overs or sooner if it was catastrophic. But I didn't have that... 'Am I going to bowl or not and when are they going to bring me on' aspect to my mind set. As I said earlier I've bowled okay while practicing and in the last game my bowling was okay too. Recently, in practice I've struggled with establishing a preferred approach to the crease that I perceive as being the correct way - e.g. get side on out of the bound. More recently, because I struggle with this and it's getting me nowhere, I've gone back to bowling in a way that I feel is right. The only thing is, I don't feel like I get that side on and I feel like I'm bowling very front on or I may even have the dreaded mixed action. But for the moment it works and I can get varying degrees of spin and change the seam angle by making adjustments to my wrist angle and getting up on my toes in the rotation. This aspect makes the ball turn considerably more. One of the other players 'Diving' Stuart commented on the suppleness of my wrist when I bowling, so he was obviously watching the fact that I was bowling variations. The only batsman that was getting me away easily was the other Levi brother that was batting quite well, I finished him off for 39.

Hopefully, this current run of form will continue and I'll bowl just as well the rest of the year. The main improvement was the accuracy and the length, let's hope it continues?

Gary Savage took over from my end and in the same way as Stuart, showed a level of expertise and finesse in his bowling that comes with experience and age and I need to probably get these blokes up the order a bit maybe? I'll have to talk to someone and see what they say or maybe just try it out - perhaps mix them in with Ben, so that there's two approaches to the bowling? Gary only bowled 3 overs, but took 2 wickets 3-0-16-2 and then they declared. But similar to Stuart - massive variation in flight and pace off of a short run up, so I suspect either a medium pace bowler or a finger spinner.

The only other thing with the bowling was the other young uns, Joe bowls and he was up for it. Abdul bowls and is apparently a really good finger spinner that bowls off-breaks, but was slightly apprehensive because his confidence was knocked in a recent U16's game. In fact Abdul was nervous generally at the prospect of playing in an adult game and at the end when I spoke to him, these fears had been allayed to some extent and he's now a lot more confident about the prospect of playing in the 4th XI and said he'd play next weekend if asked. Tim was up for a bowl, but their chances of a bowl were thwarted as the Billericay boys declared. The way I was thinking about it was - if we were to get through the middle order, maybe in the last 10 overs give them all 3 overs or so each, or perhaps 4 for the better lads and 2 for the weaker bowlers? The other thing is do you do this as an inclusion aspect of the game, knowing that it might impact on the outcome or do you keep in mind the need to win to gain points and keep the more committed players interested in playing in the 4ths? All a bit of a dilemma and one that I'll seek advice on I reckon?


This'll have to come later as I need the figures, so I'll try and update on Wednesday. But chasing 216 it didn't bode well. Off the top of my head highlight were Jamies innings - he scored 40 and stuck around for quite some time. I've never seen him bat like that before and I think he said that was his highest batting score. The kids that hadn't bowled who'd stood in the field all day fending off balls coming at them at 100mph I moved up the order.
Joe Thompson (My Younger son) B&PCC U13's
Joe did his usual thing - he had a swing and did exactly as he did last week - hit one that flew over the top of the slip cordon's heads for 4 in his first over. But of the kid the star was Abdul, who as I've said earlier was not sure about the prospect of playing against adults, but he played a very sensible innings, blocking when needing to and then taking his chances as and when the came and he scored 10 eventually falling to a young off-spinner that turned a really full ball miles outside of off, that must have turned about 45 degrees. I was in at that point looking to occupy the crease with Abdul and got myself a not-out.
Abdul Baig B&PCC U15's

Pictures; There's hardly any images this week, I was too wrapped up in getting the captaincy aspect right and scoring when we were batting. I forgot to photograph our batting figures which I'll try and do on Wednesday when I'm at the club next week. I got one of the U15's to walk about and take a few pictures, but he only took a handful, I might get some on here, I'll have to have a look first.

Scoring; That went okay and one of the young'uns Liam looked interested in what was going on and he's apparently watched someone doing it last week. I did most of it and Jamie took over when I had to get ready to bat. When I handed it over to him it was all tallying up, there was still a couple of section on the page that I didn't know what to do with, but the basics were all good and at the end of each over it all tallied up. But I do want to get some of the kids doing it.

Today it was doubly tricky because the wind was so strong every thing around me was getting blown all over the place and every 45 minutes or so it poured down with rain for 5 minutes or so. Our scoring table is set up on the edge of the field, no-where near the shed, so if it rains and play continues, the best thing you can do is hold the book on your lap beneath the table - preventing it from getting wet. The Billericay lads dragged the table back into the shed and set it up just inside the door, which I suppose is an option?

Umpiring; Yeah that went well, Tony Harms seems to be well up for it as does Lee and this is in spite of the fact that it was blowing a force 5 with intermittent rain. So at no point did we have any really inexperienced umpires out there forgetting to signal and making ropey decisions.

Rain & Weather; It wasn't pleasant at all, on the pitch fielding it wasn't that bad, I had three layers on and when we fielded through one of the down-pours it didn't quite get through to the 3rd layer. With the wind and intermittent sun, we soon dried out and their batsmen had us running around quite a bit. But once we were batting sitting and scoring or just sitting around got really cold, so I wasn't surprised that there were no 'Fans' there to support us. I always say to people to bring far more clothes than you would ever imagine needed and take them off if you get too warm, cos the chance are you're going to freeze rather than be too hot watching cricket. In the panic to get everything right I forgot my coat and fleece, so sitting their scoring I was beginning to get hypothermia! Thankfully my wife Michelle came over and did eventually go home and get them for me so for the last half hour of the game I was warmer.

Note to self for next week

1. Don't make these posts so long!!!
2. Take a shed load of coats.
3. Don't put all my gear and Joe and Ben's all in one bag, I need to be more organised.
4. Take loads of coats.
5. Write all the names on the ECB team sheet asap to give to the oppo.
6. Read up more on the bowling restrictions.
7. Try and take more pictures.
8. Try and get the kids to learn how to score.

Overall impression of captaincy? Yeah, it's okay, I'm grateful for all the help that people gave me, that includes the players on the day that helped on the field with the strategy aspects - Lee especially. The others that did simple things that made a massive difference, like anyone that picked up the equipment first thing and got it out onto the field - flags, stumps, tables etc. Dave Ayres for getting me a team out and anyone else that was party to that part of the process. Dave Ayres for doing my teas, I'm just gutted that I didn't get a picture of it as it was noted to be an exceptionally good tea and my wife Michelle is now considering doing it the next time we're at home, so if you can knock up a list of what was involved for her that'd be great. All the players for their contributions in the game, not only with the bat and the ball, but with the encouragement to the younger players, as it's obvious that this make a big difference to their approach to the game and makes them want to play again especially when it comes from the older players. Finally all the young players that turned up and played against a primarily adult team - well done lads!

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