Going to try and make this quick as I just don't seem to have any time these days to get these posts written up. I've had a few games since the last post and bowled with varying degrees of success, a couple of wickets, but nothing like what I was hoping for. I have noticed though that I seem to be intimidated by players on my own team. For the most part the 4th XI is made up of blokes that I play with on a regular basis and they're supportive, I guess they've seen me bowling in all my guises including the spells where I bowl really well and they know when I get it right it's pretty good. The other thing is that they're all blokes that never were 1st XI players or cricket Gods. But every now and then one of these cricket ex Gods turns up - coming out of retirement to help us out and some of them are not that complimentary about what they see and it doesn't help. As a certain Aussie Shane Warne has said - Wrist-spinners need a lot of love from the team.... Not derisory comments and body language that implies the opposite. So the week before I bowled an over of full tosses that all went for 4 with the exception of one. Previous week bowled well and this week bowled well - week with the cricket God in attendance... catastrophically bad.
This week we played Stanford Le Hope at home and the team had a different look to it, one older bloke - the captain who had a good knock last time, one bloke who was 22 and the rest were younger. In the last game the captain took us apart as we only managed to field 8 players for 50% of the game when we were in the field. He played well targeting the gaps and easily posted a score we were never going to achieve. This time he struggled to get the ball through the gaps. In the previous game he also adopted an approach where he worked the singles really well, but again with a full team we thwarted that approach.
too. This time though he was out cheaply and it looked as though with him gone the game was in the bag, but the kids played well and stuck at it. At the end of 40 overs they'd accrued 169 for 8.
Fielding at square leg I had a conversation with one of the kids and he said that the captain was desperate for them to post at least 175 in order to be competitive, I said, that they were doing okay and if they were to get two key players in our team they were probably in with a chance.
The two key players were the openers Michael and Ryan Davies. We all settled down to a lazy afternoon as Michael got off to the expected start with a 4 and 6 in the 1st over or two. The bowling looked innocuous and the wicket was good, but being young the kids were quick in the field and agile unlike our team which is made up of older blokes with Plantar Fasciitis, dodgy knees, recovering from operations on their chests, Leprosy and the likes. Next thing is I'm looking up from the score book thinking Jesus I need to be getting my pads on as a collapse started to take shape.
Wickets fell, but the most of the collapse was down to the zippy kids in the field forcing run-outs. I then found myself batting with Tim Edmonds who can hit the ball and we were well short of a 100 runs at that point. Tim had already thrown the towel in and was suggesting that with so many overs in hand I should just look to occupy the crease and get some batting time in, I suggested that I rotate the strike making sure that he was on strike as much as possible, but he was saying... Nah - you have a go. Meanwhile the captain Dutton was umpiring and he was seeing things differently. The bowling was made up of medium pace straight stuff that wasn't doing anything and a SLA wrist-spinner. The ball coming in from outside of off is usually my nemesis with finger spinners so with this kid I was wary. Meanwhile Dutton the captain at square leg I could see was signalling for me to hit it hard and get runs - as far as he was concerned this was easy pickings, but I noted that he was umpiring out for 0 as were some of the others that had gone out to the middle thinking that the bowling was there to be taken apart.
Tim scored some more runs before being caught on 33. We were still around 70 runs short when Joe my younger 'Non-batting' son walked out and joined me in the middle with about 10 overs to go. Joe bats at either 10 or 11, preferring 11, always saying I'd rather not bat, I don't like batting.
I know that despite what he says, his ability with the bat is far in excess of mine and a number of others in our team. In the nets he's able to hit the ball really hard and he plays my leg-spin with aggression hitting potential sixes, but never has the opportunity to demonstrate his potential. He'll readily admit that he's scared of the ball, but I'm aware that as he's nearing 16, he's increasingly less scared and just needs an opportunity, so as he came out to meet me in the middle I knew this might be a pivotal moment in his cricket career as such.
I said to have a look at the straight bowlers and said that you'll see that they're not at all fast, have a look and just play the ball on merit. The spinner I just said it's like facing a Googly bowler - similar thing just see how it goes and try and stay in as long as possible. Dutton was eyeing up the situation - "7 an over... have a swing Dave, what have you go to lose"?
Very quickly Joe was on strike facing one of their seam bowlers and the kid let one go - full toss straight at Joe's head. Joe simply pulled it for 6 over square legs head off a no ball, and that was it, that straight away gave him some confidence. I was seeing the ball better than usual and started shimmying down the wicket to the wrist-spinner hitting him through the gaps. I had some close calls with stumpings but managed to get the foot back. Unlike the rest of the team, lead by me our calling was good and we ran hard between the wickets, as the overs counted down we kept the score ticking over, but it was slowly slipping away and with 3 overs to go we were needing more than 10 an over. In the 3rd from last over led by Joe we had a really good over where me made about 14 runs, at this point panic was breaking out in their team, the captain was spending so much time tweaking the field shouting at the players, it was as though they were in a final or something.! (They'd won every game to-date and were looking to maintain that momentum). In the last two overs, they bowled well, I think I faced the spinner in the penultimate over - neither of us were able to get him away and they got their nose in front again. In the final over there was some good running between the wickets and some bad fielding including a farcical over- throw situation, but neither of us could hit the necessary fours to get us over the line and we fell short by 14 runs.
But the outcome of our 10th wicket stand was that Joe notched up some PB's and records.
1. Best batting performance in our family - his older brother Ben held that record with 25.
2. Best personal best with the bat for Joe with 38 not out.
3. Best batting in the team in that match.
4. Best batting in the whole game.
5. First six in a game.
6. Most sixes and fours in a game
So he was well chuffed with himself and enthused about the idea of batting, hopefully he'll want to bat in front of me in future and have the opportunity to do even better! Finally to put the icing on the cake it looks as though on twitter at the clubs account he'll win 'Player of the week'. Well done Joe!