Defending a low score is a club cricket captain’s chance to shine … or crumble. See how our guest leader fared in the latest entry from the secret diary of a village skipper.
Out on the field in the pressure-cooker of a Club Cricket Run-Chase Situation, when the runs are flowing and your boys’ heads are in danger of going down – that’s when you earn your corn as a skipper. If you were being paid in corn, that is. Or paid at all. Which, obviously I’m not. The best I can hope for is a swell of pride and a crisper tasting pint. Which, to be honest, is probably better than corn, anyway. Either way, whatever was up for grabs, this was my chance to earn it.
It’s first versus second and naturally we don’t have enough on the board. 212 on the quickest outfield in the county – bowled out with a full 10 overs of the available 50 entirely unused – was hardly the stuff of champions. There’s a chance here, lads, but we’ll have to be on it.
When the opening bowler gets tapped for 18 off his first two overs, something has to be done. We take back a bit of control with the wily old spinner taking the pace off, but even then their top order are just finding the boundary whenever they need to and the game is getting away from us. I’m changing things up, simultaneously trying to control the run-rate and break through to the middle-order. But after 20 overs they’re cruising: 97-1.
On comes the leggie and I tell him to go for it. Be brave. He bowls a bit of rubbish that gets the treatment and now it’s my turn to show a bit of bravery. I keep him on. And he delivers! Spinning the ball past both set batsmen. Bowled, lad! There’s plenty of overs left but that’s the top three gone – 129-3. Game on? We certainly tell ourselves it is.
And so we get the squeeze on, and all of a sudden they can’t get it off the square. The buzz, the energy, the excitement – you can be forgiven for not loving fielding a lot of the time, but when it’s like this, there’s very little better. We chip away with wickets, and when their late hitters come in there’s too much to do. Though their skipper gives us a late scare by hitting 10 off the first three balls of a final over that had them needing 20, we get over the line. A remarkable comeback win and one of the best feelings that playing our silly little game can offer.
We’ve bowled brilliantly, obviously. But one or two of the lads are even good enough to praise the various plans and bowling changes. They know the way to my heart.
No corn, then. But my, the pints are tasting crisp.
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