2 June 2008

A great day of cricket - part 3

After 7 overs, 3 wickets had already fallen and things were looking good, although we hadn’t dislodged Michael Simpkins who had opened the innings. As our young “fast” bowler (Julian later told me that he had a side strain last season so he must be fast!) kept taking wickets, I was struck by Steyning’s wicket celebrations, or lack of them. Steyning’s style is the old-fashioned hand-shaking that was common many decades ago. If you’ve ever seen the footage of Laker taking his 19 wickets in a Test, he simply simply walks back to his mark or at best his team mates casually come over and shake his hand, and this seemed to be Julian and Steyning’s way, rather than those over-excited high five things.

So with Harry Baldwin’s XI 3 down quickly, we “opened the game up”. Traditionally this is done by the bowlers bowling slowly, allowing the batsman to get some good strikes in, but I like Steyning’s version – they also drop all catches to ensure the batsmen have every possible chance of success. I got involved with the spirit of things by not going for a catch to me at deep square – it was hit pretty hard and flat and, to be honest, I didn’t fancy losing my teeth, which would have been a distinct possibility if I’d tried to dive forward to take it, so I taxi’d it. I also wasn’t helped by the fact that the boys on the boundary who were trying to drink water through their mouth and then get it to come out of their nose had caught my attention and I wasn’t concentrating properly. Fortunately the length of Steyning’s shortest boundary meant that even my jelly arm made it in ok from there and my complete lack of a throwing arm wasn’t exposed.

I got the call up to bowl asking me to toss it up – given that my Saturday “bowling properly” figures were 4-0-45-0 – I spent most of this weekend watching the ball go back over my head! Having been in this situation before, I know that I’m rubbish at tossing the ball up – I bowl flat and if I ever try to change it, the result is normally a full toss. So my figures after 1 over were 0 for about 10 and I got the chop – “you can come back later and bowl properly”.

What my skipper Andy didn’t realise was that my “proper” bowling wasn’t going to be much better but of course I couldn’t really explain that on the spot – he’d soon find out. And he did as I got about 5 overs at the end as the game was expertly managed to an exciting conclusion – the Harry Baldwin’s supporters making themselves heard on the boundary cheering their side ever closer. I managed to take 2 wickets, one caught and one stumped but I found myself doing all that sort of stuff that bowlers do to make it seem like they are bowling better than they are. In between the obligatory one four ball an over I was bowling (at least) there was one ball that went for byes that probably would have missed another stump outside leg, but I held my head to try to give the impression it was quite close – after all I’m meant to be a bowling all-rounder!

Harry Baldwin’s ended up at 169 for 8 chasing our 178 so an honourable draw and a very good game. Michael Simpkins then gave a great talk about Harry Baldwin’s and repeated some of the anecdotes in Fatty Batter. Ensuring that I really was seen as a bit of a cricketing nerd, I took an (admittedly poor) photo of Michael on stage, and got him to sign my book - photos to go up when bandwidth allows. I even advertised this blog to a few of my team mates so you never know – Cricket Burble could have a new additional audience.

If you ever get someone offering you the chance to play at Steyning CC or in a match against Harry Baldwin’s XI, I’d bite their arm off….

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