*Note to the bloke who I'd said I'd send the pictures to, I'll have them to you in the next 48 hours or sooner.
Mid-week the weather had looked ropey with rain all day Thursday. Friday morning and it started to clear and by midday it looked very promising. Again, the team sheet on Wednesday after the selection process changed again and again as people updated their availability and by Friday night it looked as though we might be playing with 9 blokes.
Saturday - got up and the weather was fine and sunny with a little wind, everything looked set to go. I had a call from Abdul Baig as he had been called to say instead of going to The Rec, he needed to go and meet at Mopsies, I said he needed to do that as it sounded as though he'd been moved at the last moment. Joe and I were dropped off 12.25 to find most of the others already there and the stumps and flags already out.
Given the side that we had and the fact that we were a man down it was pretty much certain that if we won the toss we'd bowl to give ourselves a bit of a game. Although looking at who had turned up it didn't look too gloomy as there were some decent batsmen. Bowling though again was deficient in the seam up fast dept, but we had a 3 Offies, one left arm orthodox and me.
The Hornchurch blokes started to turn up just before one so it looked as though we'd get off to a late start. Lee and their captain made their way out into the middle and did the toss and it went our way and we fielded first. Walking back Lee asked "Do you want to open" and I said 'Yeah I'll do that'.
So the squad for today was...
A.N. Other didn't turn up. I did ask my older son Ben if he'd play and he declined because he's still doing his GCSE's. So we went out with a man short. As their team walked out it kind of looked fairly evenly balanced... a mix of kids, older geezers and then a couple of blokes that looked like they'd be better than most. I recognised one of them from last year and recalled he could bat. But to start off a couple of older blokes came to the crease to open. What was useful though, was the Hornchurch blokes came with their own supply of umpires, which was a result.
Tim Edmonds opened from the Park end bowling into a slight wind. He got off to a decent start with only a run and a wide. Then it was my turn with the new ball which was kind of odd. Again, with regards to what I was going to do run-up-wise, I wasn't at all sure. My run-up to the crease at the moment is a right mess, never feeling right and always in two minds whether I should go for a short run-up a la' Terry Jenner. With the short run I can bowl my variations, but the slightly quicker approach with the longer run-up is limited with regards the potential for variation. I opted to go for the longer approach to the crease and see how it went... Behind the stumps this week in place of our usual wicket keeper Jamie Britton was Mike Blerkom.
My first ball was okay and then I bowled a ball that got me 5 runs against my name it appears, I don't remember this, I seem to remember a 'No-Ball' that the batsman hit... (Head height - slippery/shiny ball) which the bloke hooked for 4. Looking at the score sheet the scorer has drawn a circle with a cross in it, so I'm not sure how this is scored. All in know is that it's gone against me, but the batsman didn't get credited with the fours runs? I'm not good on the rules, so I can't fathom out what should have been written in the score book, but I'm acceptance of the fact that I went for 5 runs. That was followed by a much better ball that he blocked. The 3rd ball though was a lot better... it pitched full, just a smidge outside of leg and came back in just a little and would have hit middle and leg and I went up for it along with some of the others and the umpire raised his finger and the bloke was back in the sheds. On the score sheet the bloke is down for out for 0, but I swear the bloke hit me for 4. I then bowled a wide and a couple of dot balls. One of the dot balls I'd swear was another LBW, the ball pitched in exactly the same place and did exactly the same thing - possibly with a little less turn, so would have gone on to hit middle, I went up for it asking the question along with several of the others and the umpire gave it not out, I was gutted! Finished the first over with 1 for 7.
In our next over, both of us Tim and me only went for 1 each. Tim then went for a few in his 3rd over and I went for just 1 again. Both of us then bowled Maidens in our 4th overs. In the 5th over Tim went for 1 run and got his first wicket "Wolstenholme"- LBW. I then followed him up with another wicket, a kid - Imray Junior, the ball full, pitching on leg and hitting middle and off through the gate. The over included a wide, a single and a 2. By this time Imray senior was at the crease as well and he was one of the blokes that looked as though he might take me to task. Tim's over in the scorebook isn't marked as a Maiden either. He then went on to bowl his 6th over - (again an un-credited wicket Maiden over) with the wicket of Willison caught by Lee Dutton at Mid-off. My sixth over went for 3 with 2 wides and a single. At some point around this stage one of the blokes who looked as though he was going to be a bit useful and went on to score 93 not out (D.Kiff) who I think was the captain hit one of my leg breaks straight to mid-off where normally I have Tony or Liam Harms who are pretty much catching specialists - very rarely putting the ball down. Joe, my son was fielding there and the ball went at him fast and he stopped it, but with hard hands the ball just bounced back out and he spilled it, the bloke was almost out having only just come to the crease. There was another bloke as well who scored over hundred and he too was dropped early doors reinforcing that old adage 'Catches win matches'. I don't dwell on those things at all, it was good that Joe had a go, the ball came at him so fast he said afterwards... I did think I'd just get out of the way of it as it was coming at me like a rocket. If he hadn't stopped it, it would have gone on to cross the boundary for 4.
The seventh over brought my 3rd wicket a couple of dot balls followed by a wide and then a no-ball where I went across the line, which just goes to show how messed up my approach to the wicket is at the moment. I can't remember who the bloke was... S.Maydell and like all the others, according to the score book he went without scoring any runs at all. I was knackered at this point and the two blokes that had both been dropped, who then went on to score 93 not out and 140 not out hit 7 runs off me in the 8th and last over. I was ready to keep bowling, but aware that it might get messy what with only 10 players a few youngsters and one of our older players carrying a knee injury. So when the captain Lee Dutton said 'Have a blow', I gotta say I think I got off very lightly because once settled No.5 and 7 batsmen turned what was a very good start with 5 wickets for 33 runs and going into the 20th over, at a little over 50 runs made it into a very different match.
Mike Blerkom who was keeping at one point came down the wicket and had a word with me about my bowling, because I had changed it at some point around about the 6th over going from my usual stuttery 'Medium' run up to a Terry Jenner-esque 2 step approach to the crease. He said to go back to the medium version as it was faster and he reckoned it was a lot more effective. Which was interesting to hear as he's a good batsman and he plays me easily in the nets, so I'm taking that advice and I'm going to be working on a modified run up over the coming days.
So I finished up with 8-1-26-3, very similar to last week. A few wides and the no-ball five didn't help and if I'd not bowled those, I'd have had very respectable figures! Then if you consider the dropped catch and the LBW - that'd been a bit special. Very similar to last weeks game in those respects.