Friday, I checked the website and it didn't look that promising, but the weather looked as though it would be on our side. The layout of the teams looked a little one sided and a foregone conclusion for my team, what with all the McLeod family together on the opposition! They're all pretty good all-rounders, with Frank the Dad being a very good batsman and not someone I'd relish bowling to. The older of the two sons Connor, I've seen hit sixes every other ball in his innings and Mitchell who's the same age as Ben generally has a good go at taking the Mick out of my bowling in the nets - skipping down the wicket and looping the ball over the heads of any would be in-fielders.
Saturday and it didn't look too good, on the website it looked as though only 50% of the players had said they'd play and I was half expecting a phone call or text to say that yet again another game would be called off because of a lack of players. The notification didn't come and we eventually set off to The Rec arriving there just after 12.30 for a 1.00pm start. I didn't look good with only 2-3 others already there and no-one with the keys to the hut. It didn't get a lot better over the next 1/2 hour. A few turned up along with Neil who said he'd umpire and we had to make a decision about what to do. At 1pm there was 12 of us or thereabouts, so, Ben rang Kieran Barbero and I went round to Ollie Bybukes as he lives round the corner from the ground as we do. Ollie and his family weren't in, but Kieran came through. His Mum and Dad must have dragged him screaming from BF3 and made him haul himself over to the pitch, he also lives spitting distance from the ground.
The decision was made to pick two teams of 5-ish and those of the batting team that weren't batting were fielders, scorer and getting padded up. It worked okay, but later in the game the rules became more flexible and the opportunity to give the young-uns like Ben and Kieran additional chances to bowl meant that they bowled for the other side, thankfully no-one was batting for the other side though. The teams were made fairer in that the McLeod's were split up and the team I was in had Mitchell, so we still had to bowl to the two older more experienced McLeod's. It worked out well, everyone had a bowl who wanted to bowl, most of us batted twice, but inevitably Franks team won.
The highlights and low points of the day were...
1. Kieran coming out and playing in an adult game despite the fact that he's recently not bowled that well and has seemed reluctant to play in the more demanding arenas of adult cricket and U16's. Today he bowled really well and seemed to causing problems for some of the more experienced players such as Frank McLeod and Brian Waterman.
2. Ben bowling exceptionally well and taking two wickets, with the team right behind and praising him all the way through, coming away with really solid figures including 4 maidens.
3. My own bowling was pretty good when I stuck to my stock Leg Break. I had a plan based on bowling Leg Breaks and then bowling the Wrong Un, which if it comes out right is better than my Leg-Break. I was thrown the ball when Chris Debond was there with Daniel Vanderputt. Chris is a LH bat and historically I've struggled against Left handers. Both of them were making runs... My first ball over the wicket was terrible - dragged down almost bouncing twice and Chris hit it for 4 somewhere (Cover I think)? But then the next ball was a lot better doing what it was supposed to be doing - good flight, length and turning off the wicket and five dot balls ensued. As I went back to my mark I could see John Bedford padded up and waiting to come on and next to him McLeod senior - Frank. Both who are pretty good, especially Frank who has smashed me relentlessly in the nets before now! The second over Chris was facing and mid way through the first over I'd noticed that he was a lot weaker if the ball was bowled into him - cramping him up. Balls over the wicket onto his leg-stump he was dealing with, but the change to coming round bowling an Off-stump line, full and with lots of turn off the wicket was causing him problems. It was only when I tried to bowl my wrong un, that it went wrong for me and the length and flight was terrible and he got the ball away for a 2 and 4. I got another dot ball and then screwed up my run-in and bowled a full toss, which he went after and miscued it - flying up into the air allowing Mark Williams to catch it, running in from short fine leg.
That brought in John Bedford, another experienced player who's seen me off comfortably in the nets before now, but my Leg Break was coming out well and I had an air of confidence about me, so much so, I still hadn't given up on the idea of bowling another wrong-un or two. Right from the outset though (Johns first match of the season) he didn't look comfortable and I bowled a maiden. I was at 3-1-10-1 at this point. In the fourth over I opened up with a dot ball Leg-Break and then went for the Wrong Un, John appeared for the Leg Break and it pitched on off , went through the gate hitting Leg stump. John went for 0.
Whilst that was good it meant that it brought Frank to the crease (You now need to click this link and have this playing in the background as you read on). First ball up was a Leg Break and I got a dot ball - relief! The second ball up I got the line wrong and he flicked it away deftly down the Legside somewhere and ran a single. I got the sense that he'd looked at it from one end and now he was checking it out from my end. The remaining balls were bowled at Dan Vanderputt... Dot, wide and dot. Looking at the score card I think it was Dan first with a dot and a two and a single, that brought Frank back on strike and then he started. Four, followed by a single, so for that over I'd gone for 8, with the prospect now of being taken off for crap bowling. There was a slight improvement in the following over - going for 7, but 6 of them were Franks, so the captain brought me off.
But, overall it had been going well and I've come away from it quite pleased as the Leg-Breaks were coming out well with sufficient spin to have the ball turning off the wicket nicely. The majority of the 4's including at least one of Franks was down to trying the Wrong Un and it not coming out right. So, on reflection it wasn't that bad with lots of scope to force improvements that might make a dramatic difference - working on the wrong un for a start.
Bad stuff - I didn't manage to hold on to a ball at backward of Point where I was fielding most of the time. The bowler was Mitchell McLeod and it looked like it was do-able for a split second, but I faltered in some way and the ball also dipped, so I didn't cop hold of it properly and spilled it.
Another weird observation was that Daniel Vanderputt noticed that when I run in and go through the crease and bowl that I close my eyes! I'm not 100% sure whether I don't or not, but I've got a feeling that I might do for a spilt second, not sure why? I have practiced bowling where I close my eyes for the last 2 steps, the bound and the release, so whether it is a left over from doing that or not, because it is something I've done quite a bit before now.
Kieran Took over from my end pretty soon after I'd been taken off and did a very good job of bowling at Frank, far better than me by my estimation.
Bowling figures for Ben, Kieran and me...
Front left to right - Mitchell McLeod, Daniel Vanderputt, Mark Williams, Ben Thompson, Kieran "The Barbarian" Barbero.
Back Left to Right - Sean Healey, Connor McLeod, Frank McLeod, Brian Waterman, Neil Williams, Me (Dave Thompson) and John Bedford.
I've tallied up our totals, so far Ben's played the most games with four under his belt so far, Kieran's played 3 and I've only had two so far and the grand total is...
Ben - 21-4-53-4 Economy is 2.52 and his strike rate is a wicket every 31.5 balls
Kieran 14-3-57-0 Economy is 4.07 no strike rate as yet
Me 7.2-1-35-4 Economy is 4.50 and my strike rate is a wicket every 11 balls
The rain stayed away, the milk that was left in the hut from last week was still okay so we were able to get a cup of tea and the tea was cheap this week, so overall it was a good, fun day. Especially good I thought as Kieran bowled so well in his first experience at bowling at adults.