Well I wasn’t expecting to be playing with the ones on Saturday and when I agreed to go to Barnstaple with them I wasn’t expecting to bowl. Harold was struggling to raise a team and with little enthusiasm from others to make the 160 mile round trip to Barnstaple, I agreed to go. H told me I was in for Pickles who was working. This was quite fitting as I was suffering from a myriad of aches and pains. I aggravated my dodgy back in midweek lifting a chest of drawers, had a worrying twinge in my left knee and various assorted aches and pains. (I hope you’re empathising Pickles)
When H kindly picked me up at 10.30 I was thinking “I wonder if I should have agreed to go” since I was worried my back wouldn’t stand up as I raced in to attack the ball in the field with my customary swiftness. I was also thinking “I wish I’d had time for another cup of tea” as I’d only had one and normally would have consumed 6 by then.
We waited around at Dartington for ages before Bertus turned up and we could hit the road. Amazingly our convoy of 4 cars managed to keep together and more remarkably we managed to find the ground. I was glad not to be travelling in some of the other vehicles and not just because of the music. (I’d go into more details but it would be censored).
We arrived at the ground and I noticed the pavilion had a duck weather vane perched on top. I wondered if it was a deliberate joke. I was peckish by now, others had got hold of food and I regretted my decison to wait until tea. We had some fielding drills to warm up which left me shattered- not an auspicious start. The twos are more laid back. We recently enjoyed beating another team who had elaborate pre- and post-match drills. Indeed DC prides himself on his laid back pre-match preparation.
H won the toss and put them in on a damp wicket. The pitch was enormous. In parts I would need three throws to get the ball from boundary to stumps. It was quite a culture shock for me as the game commenced. I was stationed at mid on (out of harms way) with Raz keeping the ball around off stump. I had to remain at mid-on and to keep swapping sides, depending on whether the batsman was right or lefthanded. At the end of the overs we changed ends quickly which was another culture shock (the 1s get fined for a slow over rate). It felt like watching a film on double speed and took me a long time to catch up with the pace.
H had asked me which end I fancied bowling from and I thought he was just being polite. H told me I’d be replacing Will who along with Raz can only bowl a ridiculously low allocation of 7 over spells. 2 big strapping lads- whereas an old crock like me can bowl 13.
Raz and Will had done a good job and my first hope was not to get bashed around. The batsmen surprised me by showing lot of respect and I was both surprised and pleased by this. Very few runs came off my first few overs. It was a bit frustrating when the batsman picked up singles when it didn’t seem there should have been a run there. Still it was a big field to police. I kept trundling away -the batsman still hadn’t found me out!- resisting the temptation to bowl faster (which usually ends up shorter). I was very thirsty not having had a drink since before 10am and was counting down the overs to the drinks break. I got away with a few short ones and several shots were lofted close to fielders. Bertus was bowling with me in tandem and we were keeping them fairly quiet but not getting wickets. Bertie bowled a few loose deliveries which were dispatched and rather selfishly made me feel better about my bowling.
One big chap tried to up the pace, driving me straight and in the air. One looked shot looked as if H could have caught it but he hadn’t seen it. He then hit one just above Matt’s head and I thought my luck was in but Matt didn’t manage to hold on to it. Never mind he caught the bloke a bit later with an even better catch and I’d bagged my first wicket in B divison. I had a spring in my step now and my next delivery was a beauty and just missed new manYeo’s outside edge, as he played and missed- he went on to make 76 not out, running riot at the end. Funnily enough I always fancied my chances of getting him out. I was surprised to realise I’d almost bowled 13 overs. I’d bowled 13 the previous week and hadn’t even felt tired but I did today. I later realised the reason was I got little rest between overs as Bertie got through his so quick last week DC was at the other end with his long run up. “They’re working you hard today” the umpire said -“one over left”. In the end I was relieved to get it over without being bashed to the boundary since I was tired now but also disappointed not to have taken more wickets.
The rest is in the match report apart from a groin strain I managed to incur stretching to stop the ball with my foot! Kyle responded to an lbw decision by a frolic in the changing room, whilst minor controversies occurred on the pitch. I was due to go in next but the overs ran out and I was left with mixed feelings- I wouldn’t have liked to have got out but can enjoy, in a twisted sort of way, a spot of dogged defending. H and I set off back and managed to negotiate some side roads as the M5 was closed for roadworks. We wondered how the others had fared with the diversions, as some are ‘blessed with but little brain’. Not really, more they may not have had experience of driving in the area! Mick