On the morning of the game the only bloke that looked as though he might no show was Luke Edmonds.
Got ready and had a couple of calls from people that wanted a lift. The weather looked okay - bright and sunny and blustery initially, but then as midday approached it clouded over and it looked as though there might be the prospect of rain.
Set off at 11.45 and picked up Tim Brown and Jamie the wicket keeper. Got there in good time and arrived at about 12.25. No-one else from our team had arrived. We were met by a man wielding a machete, which I didn't bat an eyelid at, but apparently Tim and Jamie were a little freaked out by it. As Joe said "We've got a machete in our garage and we use it for gardening and stuff". Turned out that the bloke was cutting some rope, so it completely made sense that he was walking around with a machete.
Eventually some of the others turned up and it looked like we would have a game, although the opposition looked short of players. We won the toss and fielded first. The pitch was pretty poor, possibly worse than the pitch over at Stanford Le Hope, Joe reckoned it was worse than the wicket in the paddock! It was green with a longish covering of grass, but there were holes all over it and divots, but I wasn't fussed and no-one moaned that much.
I then discovered when I'd packed my bag I'd virtually put everything in it including the kitchen sink, but I'd left my whites at home! Fortunately the opposition had a pair of trousers and a top, so I had something to wear. The other thing I forgot was a SD card for my camera, so I had a camera but no way of capturing the images.
Our bowling opened with Tim Edmonds - seam up medium pace stuff - accurate. The first event of note was a ball hit on the offside over my head at Gully, I leapt up but was only able to get the tip of my thumb on the ball. Runs were difficult to come by for the opposition and we restricted them to a good over rate 2.9 up till the point were I bowled. In the meantime bowling in tandem with new bloke Anthony Joseph who bowled tightly not giving much away, only one wicket went down. Tim bowled one that went to hand at point being caught by his son Luke.
Lee then brought me on at the end furthest away from the sheds bowling into a diagonal wind, which I thought would be a problem right from the outset as it was a really brisk wind. My bowling's slow at the best of times, but then to bowl into the wind is just asking for trouble. The theory was that I'd be able to make use of the drift (Have they mistaken me for someone else)?
I let Lee set the field and he set an in-out basic field, some of the others who don't see me bowl that much were asking about putting blokes on the boundary on the legside, but Lee showed some faith and set a field that would help to reduce singles and challenge the batsmen to go over the top with aggressive shots.
It worked pretty well and as the overs passed blokes came in and the field tightened with it adapting to something I'd have chosen. In the first over I went for a run and a wide, the first ball was bowled a la' Terry Jenner and went for a single, it felt as though with the wind in my face that bowling off of 1 step left me vulnerable due to the loss of speed in the air. I then decided that I'd go for the 'Run in' approach and see how that went. My bowling didn't feel right and in this 1st over I went for a run and a wide. But the balls that were okay including the one that went for a single landed on a good full length and turned off the pitch really well.
2nd Over. This was better with just two runs conceded with the ball being flicked off the legs and being chased down by Tim Brown who was fielding round the corner. But again the ball was turning off the wicket and for the most part I was getting good accuracy line and length wise.
3rd Over. Same again 2 runs, the ball turning and I was bowling very well although not feeling at all comfortable with any aspect of my run up or bowling in this wind.
4th Over. The first ball went for 1 and then the next ball was my first wicket of the season... Landed in front of the batsman on middle and turned through the gate hitting off-stump as I recall. The next bloke came in and I bowled virtually the same ball this time he played forward trying to defend it and the ball found the edge and went straight to Jamie. I was on a hat trick at this point and only managed a dot ball. The last ball conceded a run (may have been a no-ball). At this point I was on 2 for 8 off of 4 overs. At this point I was think I could pull out the Googly I've been working on in the next over.
Meanwhile Tony Harrms was bowling away at the other end keeping things tight and the game looked as though it was moving along in our favour.
5th Over. This was the best of all of them, 5 great balls producing no runs, two of the balls were Googlies pitched on middle stump and both turned and missed the leg stump by a mile, but Jamie snaffled both of them easily. The last ball was pitched outside of leg, turned round the back of his legs and hit leg stump! Jamie said it was a beaut! A wicket maiden bringing me up to 3 for 8.
6th Over. 3 runs off of this one including a no ball and I was starting to tire a little at this point but unusually in my legs!. It was also in this over that I had to stop during my bowling action, because as I bounded a gust of wind physically blew me side ways and I had to pull out of the delivery.
7th Over. The wind and my legs then conspired to produce my worst over with loads of balls being sprayed all over the place and I went for 7 runs, mostly through bowling legside. In amongst it was a no ball as well. I also said to Lee... "Lee that'll do, I'm bowling crap", but he then still gave me another over as he said that I was on track for a five-fer. But I was knackered.
8th Over. For this over I decided I'd bowl off of one step a la' Terry Jenner and bowl Top-Spinners and Googlies. It worked okay and I only conceded another 2 runs and the Googlies looked pretty good too. Lee then called it a day on my bowling and I'd finished with... 8-1-20-3 an average of 2.5 and a strike rate of 6.6. I was more than happy with that.
What I did notice though was how unfit I was and this became noticeable in the 6th and 7th over, it wasn't upper body fitness, it was general out of breath-ness and weak feeling legs. To be honest though in comparison with last years pre-season work I did on fitness, I've done very little. Last year I had a massive incentive, my younger son Joe was in recovery from an RTA and over two years of low level activity last season was his first in which he had no pins in his leg and he needed to get rid of all the weight that he'd put on and get fit. So we were out running every other night for 20 minutes. This year I've done none of that and it noticed today.
Leg-spinners moan - There were at least 2 other chances. One in the 2nd over where there was a stumping, everyone went up for it and the leg-stump umpire stuck his finger up, the umpire at my end said 'He's given him out', but then there was some kind of dispute at the other end and the square leg umpire retracted the signal and dismissal saying - 'No he's not out his foot was on the line', someone then pointed out that he needed to have something behind the line and the umpire seemed unsure about the rules. Lee decided to leave it as not out and told the kid the rule about having to have something behind the line. The kid has my sympathy, it hate being an umpire and mistakes are easily made.
There was also a ball in the 6 th over that pitched on middle and turned across the front of the bat and the glove and was caught by Jamie, but it looked as though as it did it deviated, but what with the wind and no-one else going up other than Jamie - it was left and I didn't say anything and I turned to the umpire at my end and said 'I should have gone up for that - it looked as though it came off his bat or glove' and the bloke nodded!
Joe bowled next and surprised me as he chose to bowl his Finger Spin off-breaks against the oppositions two best batsmen. He did really well. He had one chance dropped by Luke Edmonds who was fielding around the corner but quite close and Tony Harms who normally catches everything fumbled and dropped one in the slips. So Joe was very unlucky to come away wicket-less, he also had a couple of LBW's that he reckoned were plumb that the umpires didn't give. He bowled finger spin for his first 3 overs and then seam up for the final over...
Joe came away with 4-1-20-0. Mike Blerkom also took a wicket. Lee Dutton came on at the end to finish their innings off and the opposition ended up with 137 which looking around at our lads I thought was feasible.
Over tea it was discussed who would bat first and Joe and I were put in. Because they only had 8 players we gave them a couple of ours. The batting didn't go that well. I felt for Joe a bit, the first ball he faced he offered a half - hearted straight bat defensive shot but the kid was bowling dead straight on the stumps and Joe somehow played inside it and it hit the off-stump. Recently in practice and nets he's batted with loads of confidence and afterwards he said he wished he's had a chance at the leg spinner as he fancied his luck against him. Meanwhile I was trying to evade a leg-spinner (A Nangia) who was bowling quite well. I managed to keep him at bay for 5 overs, but in my usual style - unable to score any runs. In the end he bowled me through the gate.
As you can see they bowled quite well, with the only person able to make any impression being 13 year old Charlie Blerkom who did really well in comparison to the rest of us. The pitch which as I said was pretty awful proved to be a right handful for some with the ball bouncing really irregularly and bouncing up and hitting people in the chest and I think Dutton got one under the chin. If Ben had been there to open the game may have been very different as the pitch would have played a big part in the game, more so than it did in the end today. Despite the loss it was an enjoyable day out and good one for the younger members -especially Charlie.
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