Today's been another wonderful cricketing day for me. For once, not for my bowling, which is hitting a bad spell at the moment. In fact, I've gone for four matches and had figures of 8-0-3-50, 8-0-1-58, 4-0-0-30, and 4-0-0-something (I never checked). Not even for my fielding, which too has been lagging a tad, but it should get better soon. No, this is for my batting, for a change.
...so as you do on a concrete/synthetic turf pitch, and a hot day that promises to cool down, our captain decided to bat first upon winning the toss. Not a bad idea, but you'd get awfully hot in that gear. Still, this was one of the most experienced teams I had played with, including a couple ex-A-Grade players who were having trouble with their arm, or run-up, or just having a bad spell. It's always comforting to see that happen - get a few A-Grade players in a B-Grade side.
I sat down and did the scoring for a while, but batting at No. 7, and with a few wickets falling in the first fifteen overs, I inevitably had to leave, get my pads on, and go to the nets and get my eye in. I would need all I could get - the guys we were playing are not a good side. Not as in "not good at the game" - they will just resort to all kinds of shit. Last year, we wouldn't let a guy from their team who came to the match at 4:00p bat, so they retaliated by refusing to let one of our guys bowl - for wearing the wrong colour shoes.
Enough of the background. The skinny is that we went to drinks OK, but in the middle of the 23rd over (out of 40) the fifth wicket fell and I went out to face two spinners. They had 5 and 6 overs left to bowl, respectively, so I would just have to tough them out. I had an ex-A-Grade player at the other end, and he just told me to stay in. ...So stay in I did.
While my more experienced partners fell around me - first Boof, then Mark - I grew more and more confident as the overs wore on and on. Mind you, I was also lucky several times - I reckon I hit them four catches that they all dropped. I thought I was done for when I gave their 'keeper a genuine nick, but he dropped it, and so did his slip. Plus I hit a doozy to short mid-on. Jeez I was pissed at those shots, but I wasn't pissed at all my other shots. When I thought they were worth a shot, I gave them a shot. I ended up with 17 runs, and was bowled on the last ball of the last over of the innings. I tried for another swing, and missed it completely.
I lasted seventeen and a half overs. I think the thing that kept me in was this: at one point, a slip yelled out "This is the guy we want on strike." I thought to myself, "Right, well, if they want me on strike, that's what I want too." The way I usually think about it, speaking as a bowler, is that we don't want them out there. As soon as the fielding side want the batsman on strike, that's as good as saying "I want you to stay here so I can pummel you with bouncers." So if they wanted me out there, I delivered.
Oh yeah, and I did get another bouncer. It wasn't the guy that got me last time - he's been suspended for bad conduct. No, this was one of his team mates, who sometimes
tries tried to unsettle me at school. The way I handled it was to just club it to the boundary. We get along OK sometimes, and as I was running, I passed him and whispered "Take that". Then after the game I told him that he bowled well. Indeed, he had unsettled me with a couple of good balls while I was getting used to his style. And he didn't get me out either. That was the icing on the cake. (To see a better description of the people I'm talking about, see October 13, 2007.)
As I say, my form with the ball has dropped, so I bowled four overs and conceded 20+ runs in their innings. But that didn't matter. I now have a fond memory of my highest B-Grade score, my first double-digits score in B-Grade, and the longest time I had ever stayed in (in terms of overs), even eclipsing my effort of March 12, 2006. Another day I shall remember forever.
As an aside, I have little mementoes of both today and March 13, 2006. From March '06, I have a medal, and two newspaper clippings. From today, I have a photo taken of me just coming off the ground, holding my bat up as though I were celebrating a century. And trust me, it sure felt like one. It shall go on my other half when I get a chance.