Poor batting display sees 2nds start season with defeat
New year, new division, new skipper, classic Bentley collapse.
With the Beaney era a fond but now distant memory, the trip to Great Baddow saw me take my bow as 2nd XI skipper. With the sun beaming down reflecting my hope and optimism for the season ahead, a leisurely drive down the A12 saw me arrive in plenty of time (20 minutes before play was due to start) with the umpires and opposition skipper awaiting me in the middle for a toss that given the green and spongy nature of the wicket, would have a telling impact on the outcome of the match. Rest assured, I lost it - Bentley inserted to bat.
That did not deter my aforementioned hope and optimism as our resident opening pair and last season's two top run scorers, Ollie Gordon and James Sapwell strode to the middle with visions of their efforts in 2017 fresh in their mind. Unfortunately, fresh in Sappy's mind was his efforts from May-mid July as he snicked off the opening 'quack' bowler to register a first duck for the year. In fairness, both Great Baddow openers bowled with excellent consistency and it was a good spell of bowling to work Sappy over and claim his wicket. Whilst Albie was unable to quite see off the opening bowlers, Gunnar was embracing the grind at the other end, trying to keep us in the game and saw us through to the first drinks break at 15 overs.
What happened after that was to be quite honest, a shambles. Gunnar was adjudged LBW before Baddow introduced their gentle off-break bowler who proceeded to induce some daft judgment from our middle order, as we appeared to be taking part in a competition for the most 'yuck' moment of the match. Sprulesy's effort claimed an honourable 3rd place displaying deft footwork and ball control akin to a young Stanley Matthews in managing to roll the ball onto his stumps. Having been given the lovely gift of a juicy, slow full toss, I proceeded to bunt it tamely to short mid-wicket to secure the runners up spot. However, despite somehow seeming to have got better looking over the winter, James Green was the unanimous winner of this award. With the score on 57 for 5 and Greeno undoubtedly the cornerstone to us having any hope of scrambling a semi-respectable total, electing to track the slow bowler and hoist him into the children's play park was a debatable decision. Alas, he was stumped.
The lower order attempted to dig the top order out of a deep, deep hole, but ultimately, we were unable to stop the slide and were eventually dismissed for 81. Whilst I give full credit to the Great Baddow bowling attack who, in general, bowled with excellent discipline and were backed up by some good fielding, it is important that we recognise how much more focus and application we must have in our batting this season if we are to compete in this higher division.
With winning the game realistically beyond us, I attempted to galvanize our spirits in order to salvage something from the game. Boosted by strong tea, during which we discussed the merits of us quitting cricket to form our own detective team worthy of rivaling Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine, we ventured out to field and for a moment, the dreams of a debut win as skipper I had been having every night since September last year appeared to be coming reality. The decision to hand Yorkey the new ball proved inspired, as their opening bat clipped it straight to mid-wicket, where the mercurial fielder that is Sprulesy proceeded to take a sharp, stinging snaffle. Sappy's decision to wear short sleeves whilst keeping wicket however, less so and a worthy contender for 'yuck' moment of the match. Nonetheless, with Sprulesy snaffling catches, my hope and optimism that miracles could happen was reignited.
With Yorkey wheeling away and Tobie and Dinesy continuing to bound in with plenty effort, I was pleased to see the team continue to display discipline and enthusiasm in our fielding efforts, restricting Great Baddow to around 2.5-3 runs an over for the large part and making them work for each of the 82 runs they required for victory. We earned ourselves a point, making the whole day an entirely worthwhile experience, when their number 3 slapped a back foot drive straight to me at short cover and with the assistance of my left boot I was able to cling on, despite the batsmen's protests that it hadn't carried. What took the shine off our admirable fielding efforts slightly was the returning Snelly's refusal to land a ball on the strip, though he was later forgiven when it emerged that he was suffering from Vietnam-esque PTSD onset from a previous skipper's shredding of his confidence, and Dinesy deciding he needed a nap before resuming work. This hastened Baddow's successful chase but nonetheless, I was satisfied with our efforts in the second half of the game.
Ultimately, it was a disappointing start to the season, as we did not do ourselves justice with the bat, which killed off any hope we had of winning the game. However, if we apply the same diligence and effort we showed in our bowling and fielding, couple that with the return of a few key players, I have no doubt we can compete in this division.
- Turn up earlier and actually look at the wicket before the coin toss to at least look like you have a clue.
- The paperwork involved in captaining is a pain, seems a harsh punishment for having to assemble, organise and generally hang about with a weak group of blokes for an entire Saturday afternoon.
- When Dinesy says he has 1 more over in him, change bowlers.
- Ask Tobie where he gets his conditioner from, strong salad.
- Keep threatening the bowl yourself in these games, it gives the illusion to your teammates that you can actually bowl without having to display your 'yuck' left armers.