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Poor wickets, crap fielding, lucky batsmen, lousy umpires
« on: March 06, 2010, 11:15:42 AM »

Poor wickets, crap fielding, lucky batsmen, lousy umpires
March 5, 2010

Posted by Rene Van Oorschot

As I see off the dreary working week, the exceedingly amateur cricketing bones in me start to vibrate with anticipation at the impending Highland Grudge Match with our main league rivals, Hogly* “the (one-) family town” Cricket Club. There is little love lost between the two teams and the Saturday-morning formalities bear more than a passing resemblance to a North East weather prediction: frosty and miserable.

“Win the toss, bowl ‘em out, smash the runs, Pint of Tennents by five” has been our team’s motto for years and today is no exception. With weather in the North East being what it is, the wicket is soft in the mornings. The moisture makes the ball do all sorts; the dew and wind in the air do no harm to swing bowlers either. Odds are the ground will harden up as the relentless Scottish sun does its work in the afternoon, making batting relatively easy (with strong emphasis on relatively; wickets in Scotland are about as unpredictable as curry-induced bowel movements**).

“Toss won, bowlers warm up” is the unsurprising announcement from our captain as he strolls merrily back to the pavilion knowing he can now make the first step in hangover recovery from his relatively tranquil vantage point at first slip. Slip catches are generally considered poor form in this neck of the woods and thus the cordon is a much desired fielding position.

I will be taking the first over, and do some token ritualistic stretches at the end of my ludicrously long run-up. This, paired with my imposing physical presence (a result of years of post cricket-match socialising), is part of the psychological battle between bowler and batsman that makes up 90% of cricketing skill (the other 10% being actual skill – an aspect frowned upon here in Scotland). My theory is that if I look and act like a ferocious brute of a fast bowler, the batsman may convince himself that I might actually be the real deal. This plan, inevitably, has two major flaws: one, I am not, in fact, fast. And two, I tend to apologise if I do manage to get a ball to bounce above waist height, which is no surprise considering I have all the competitive edge of a drugged-up poodle.

After three dropped catches (if you need to be good at fielding, you’re not bowling and batting well enough), two plumb lbws given not-out (we umpire our own games – appeals are only for appearances really), a truckload of extras (I like to keep the batsman guessing) and runs aplenty, I hear the inevitable “Cheers Rene, go have a breather” drifting over from first slip. This is followed by my weekly mope off to fine leg ready for the traditional bowlers’ moan about the Big Four: poor wickets, crap fielding, lucky batsmen and b*st*rd umpires.

We are 45 minutes into the game and my cricketing contribution for today has been delivered (and thoroughly dispatched). I spend the rest of the match calculating the amount of time I annually spend grumbling at fine leg (50 hours, in case you’re interested). Still, I can’t wait for next Saturday.

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