Catsfield vs Ashburnham, 2021-05-02

Timed game: 5 hours including tea break, 1 innings each. Ashburnham won the toss and chose to bat. Ashburnham 205 ao from 35.5 overs. Catsfield 120 ao from 32.1 overs.

When I left home it was a lovely day for cricket – warm, scattered clouds, no sign of rain. But the further south I got the cloudier the skies, and as I crossed the top of the Weald ridge going through Ashdown Forest there were the first spots of intermittent rain. They got heavier, and there was even a little bit of hail. “Bugger” I thought. My previous match between these two sides was rained off after only a few balls, and I wondered if this one would be too. But the rain stopped, and after lunch with my parents I headed to the ground, which had not had any rain at all. Indeed, it seems to be blessed, as during play we saw heavy showers marching past to both north and south, but they all missed us.

Catsfield’s ground is bordered on one side by a hedge and field, into which a few balls went but were quickly retrieved, and on another by a small bluebell wood, with a steep drop-off a few yards in down towards a stream. I am surprised no balls were lost there. The other two sides are open. The ground is a reasonable size – not large by any means, but also not a tiddler like Ashburnham’s is. The field slopes slightly down from north to south, although the pitch is flat, and the outfield was dry and fast.

I was accompanied all day by another umpire so instead of doing the bowler’s end throughout I alternated with square leg as the Ancients decreed, although the only decisions I had to make from there were about no balls for height – I let a couple go which were marginal, and called one. I also signalled for penalty runs once when the ball hit the wicket keeper’s unused helmet that was behind him on the field. That should have been signalled by my colleague at the bowler’s end, but he didn’t, and talking to him afterwards he couldn’t remember the signal. It’s one that you very rarely see so is easy to forget, as I did in a league match last year.

In their innings Ashburnham scored quickly, and while five batsmen were out for ducks, there were excellent partnerships for the 2nd and 4th wickets, of 91 and 54. The bowling was better than the score book would lead you to believe, the fast outfield let many deliveries that would normally go for one or two race away to the boundary, but there were only three balls hit for six. One of Ashburnham’s players told me that he thought 220 was about par so they were a bit behind when I gave their last real batsman out LBW for a creditable 44 runs a few minutes before the scheduled tea break, leaving the team captain not out on no runs, and having faced no balls at all.

Catsfield’s innings got off to a slower start, and despite the occasional expensive over they never looked like catching up. The key statistic separating the sides is that Catsfield bowled one maiden over, but Ashburnham bowled ten – and six of those were wicket-maidens, including three in a row for one bowler who was getting the ball to move sideways. I couldn’t see from close up what on earth he was doing with it, so I pity the poor batsmen. It was a joy to watch!

I was happy with my own performance. I gave a couple of wides, turned down a few LBWs, gave one, and would have very seriously considered a couple of others if there had been an appeal. I’m only aware of one small mistake I made. I called and signalled for a front-foot no ball at one point, but didn’t repeat my signal to the scorer when the ball was dead. I should do that when the ball is dead regardless, but especially at this ground where I was standing side-on to the scorer and so he had no chance of seeing my original signal. The score board was correct though, so he must have heard me.

Intra-Plastics, 2021-04-24

40/40 intra-club game to open the season, with batsmen retiring after facing 50 balls. Team Fandango Pink 250/5 (plus 2 retired). Team French Pink 251/4 (with 2 retired) from 37.3 overs.

The pitch was a brand new astro-turf surface and played like a road. Aside from swing from the strong breeze that was blowing across it, there was little for the bowlers, and it didn’t even bounce much, being so new that it hadn’t yet truly firmed up. The scores were accordingly quite high, with Team Fandango Pink going at over 6 an over to set a target of 251. Team French Pink was always ahead of the run rate though.

Despite this being my first match of the season after over six months off, I was pleasantly surprised that I had very little rust to blow off. I remembered to call byes, something which I forgot at the beginning of both my previous seasons and indeed occasionally later in the season too. The one LBW that I gave was uncontroversial, as were the several LBW appeals that I didn’t give. I think I only made two mistakes. The first was that I didn’t shave my head before the match, and my lockdown barnet was rather too big and my hat didn’t fit, and so blew off a few times. The second mistake I made was that I spent quite a while before deciding that one LBW appeal (which I didn’t give) was not out because it was juuust missing leg stump, only to be told by a fielder after I’d made my decision that the batsman had got an edge on the ball anyway, which I had missed. Obviously if the batsman hits the ball then it doesn’t matter whether the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps!

The one other thing that I do need to work on, although it wasn’t a mistake, is on judging wides. I called wide 16 times but could have called it a lot more. I was asked beforehand to be generous on them, as we were rather pressed for time as it still gets dark a bit early at this time of year, so I only called those that were quite outrageously wide. I hope I’m allowed to be rather stricter in my next match, so that I can get my eye in before the league season.

Intra-Plastics, 2020-10-10

35/35 game between the club members who went on tour to Portugal earlier in the season and those who stayed at home. Tourists 152 ao from 30.2 overs. Home Birds 153/6 from 29.4 overs.

The Plastics are the first team I umpired for back in May last year and I was planning on doing a few more for them this year, but events conspired against me. One match was cancelled because the opposition couldn’t book a pitch; one was cancelled because the pitch was double-booked; one I had to pull out of; and finally, this match went ahead.

The distinct lack of pitch markings
Markings? What markings

This late in the year it gets dark early so we started as early as possible, as soon as the various football training groups had left the field. The field was wet, and I’m glad we were playing on an astro-turf pitch, as the rest of the the strips across the square were unplayable. It was chilly, and plenty of fielders wore woolly hats and coats, much to the amusement, I am sure, of some of the occasional spectators who stopped to watch for a few minutes. The field is on a slope, with one end of the pitch lower than the other. Bowling up-hill was hard work, and bowling down-hill was rather bouncy. The markings on the pitch were very faint. There was no visible return crease at either end, the popping crease was just about visible from behind the stumps, but from square leg it couldn’t be seen at all. I did the bowler’s end throughout, and only one of my many temporary colleagues had to judge a run-out, which he said was clearly not-out.

There were many wides and no-balls, including for bowling off the strip several times, as all but one of the Home Birds had a go, one getting three no-balls in his over (but also a wicket, and no other runs, so it was almost a wicket-maiden). There were also several dropped catches, at least some of which can legitimately be put down to – as can some of the wayward bowling – everyone’s fingers being frozen, and also some misses in the field from, quite reasonably, not wanting to dive into cold muddy puddles. The Dukes ball used in the first innings held up well, but the Gray Nicolls ball used in the second innings developed a large ridge around the seam as the wet leather swelled up which just looked weird, both in the hand and when the ball was in flight. I reminded them that they could ask for a ball change, and we could have switched to the ball used in the first innings, but everyone was happy to continue. I expect that that helped it to swing a bit more than it would have otherwise but there wasn’t much unexpected seam movement and no very fast bowling where that might have mattered more. According to one of the players whose Sussex league uses Gray Nicolls balls this is a common problem – and one that I’ve not seen with the Dukes and Readers that are used in the matches I normally umpire.

Late in the Home Birds’ innings it got very dark, so much that if the Tourists had brought a fast bowler on I think I would have had to tell them no. When rain was added to the darkness I reluctantly took the players off. Thankfully it didn’t last long, and as the squall blew past the dark cloud went too and we finished with an even wetter field but in good light.

I was a bit rusty even though it was only a month since my previous game. I don’t think I made any terrible mistakes (although people were most miffed that I didn’t give an LBW that they were all sure was hitting leg stump; I wasn’t sure if it was just tickling the stump or just missing, so I couldn’t give it) but I found myself having to think harder than normal, at least at the start of the game.

It was an enjoyable, not very serious game to end a strange season on. I feel that I’ve improved as an umpire compared to last season. Still lots more to learn, of course, and I do hope that training courses are back on before next season starts.

Ashburnham vs East Dean, 2020-09-13

42/38 game with any unused overs from the first innings being added to the second. East Dean won the toss and fielded first. Ashburnham 157/9. East Dean 95ao from 26.4 overs.

That match format. Yes, it’s bizarre. But it’s what the captains agreed before the toss, as a compromise between a limited overs game and a timed game. It works around the problems of a slow last “hour” in a timed game, which is actually an hour or the time taken for 20 overs, whichever is longer – so in practice is always longer than an hour unless a team is bowled out. Given how late in the season we are and the problems fielders on the eastern side would have when the sun is low in the sky, I think it might be a sensible compromise no matter how odd. Alternatively they could just start an hour earlier, but perish the thought of getting up earlier on a Sunday!

This was the first of a few friendlies that I’m umpiring as the season winds down. Conditions were excellent – mostly sunny, without significant recent rain so the ground was firm and dry, and while it was warm it wasn’t too too hot. There was quite a lot of dry grass on the pitch, and since last season the fences along the east and west sides have been augmented with some finer mesh so that far fewer balls are lost into the neighbouring field or over the road. I was surprised however, that there were no sixes even though we were playing right on the eastern edge of the square with a very short boundary on that side. I was accompanied by player-umpires throughout. For the first 12 overs I did the bowler’s end duties as the two younger players I had with me during that spell were not confident about doing that, but after that things were back to normal. Normally I wouldn’t chop and change like that for the sake of consistency, but it was a friendly and the captains were happy with it, so I was too.

It was a tricky pitch to bat on, with a bit of turn off the surface (but not much swing), quite bouncy, with the odd ball staying really low. One stayed so low that I gave a no-ball for bouncing twice before it reached the other end during Ashburnham’s innings. The bounciness meant that plenty of balls which struck the batsmen were going to go over the stumps. In a league match I would have had to turn down plenty of appeals on those grounds, but here there was a refreshing honesty from both sides when fielding. Ashburnham’s opening pair put on a very good 80, with a highest score of 54 for the first man, but there was an absolutely catastrophic collapse later, going from 120/3 to 137/9 in 7 overs, with two men dismissed for 1 each and three for a duck. The last pair made what I thought would be an important 10 each, and there were also a helpful 18 extras, mostly wides.

I thought that the target of 158 was achievable provided nothing went terribly wrong – but it did. East Dean’s innings didn’t get off to a good start, with their opening batsman falling on the last ball of a wicket-maiden. The second over was a maiden too. I thought that the pitch was a bit more docile in the second innings, and despite Ashburnham not being able to find a hard new ball and so having to make do with a used one, the number of balls keeping low was actually less remarkable than previously. A couple of balls bounced unusually high as the bowlers found divots and rough spots. None of East Dean’s batsmen could stay long at the crease, with the best score being 39 off 34 balls but only two more getting over 10 runs, and wickets falling regularly. Ashburnham’s bowling was excellent, with the captain getting 5 for 24 off just 7.4 overs and the opening bowler, a 15 year old lad, got that opening wicket-maiden and while he ended up getting just that one wicket for 27 runs from his six over spell he was tantalisingly close to getting several more wickets – I look forward to seeing him in action again. There was also just one extra for the bowlers (a wide), although there were eight byes as well.

I thought I had a good game, although I had to make very few decisions. I gave two unusual no-balls – the double-bounce that I’ve already mentioned, and another where the bowler knocked the bails off during his delivery – but I’ve given them both before so they don’t count towards my collection. I also warned one of the bowlers that he was very close to a back foot no-ball, something that you don’t see very often and I had to briefly explain the law to him. Last season I might not have spotted that, but this season, having paid attention while watching rather more experienced umpires in action, I’ve been standing further back. While it does mean that I can see that sort of infraction better, the rather more important reasons for it are that I don’t have to change where I’m concentrating so much from the bowler’s landing spot (for the more common front foot no ball) to the batsman (for an LBW), and I also have a split second more to get out of the way if the batsman tries to take my head off. That said, if I think that a bowler is very close to a front foot infringement then I will stand further forward to get a better view of the crease.

I am cursed, 2020-07-19

My first match of the season was supposed to be today, at Ashburnham, who were playing Catsfield. There was a bit of rain around in the morning when I left London, heading to my parents place for a pre-match lunch, but that cleared up. After lunch I headed off to the ground … and the heavens opened. It absolutely bucketed down. But not for long, and so we got started only a little bit late, with me doing bowler’s-end duty throughout. After a grand total of 4.2 overs I took the players off as it had started raining again, and the bowlers’ landing points were already turning muddy and slippery. After a further 20-odd minutes of hanging around everyone agreed that even if the rain did stop the ground wasn’t going to dry out enough so the match was abandoned.

Then on my way home a couple of hours later I saw there was a game on at Blindley Heath so I stopped to watch. When I arrived the batting team were on 117 for 5, although chasing a target of over 200. Twelve minutes later they were all out.

Clearly I have offended the gods and am cursed to only see a few minutes of cricket this season.

On a better note, however, I don’t appear to be terribly rusty. I remembered to give all the right signals, even for byes which I forgot an awful lot of the time last year.

Ashburnham vs Eastbourne Martlets, 2019-09-22

Timed game: 5 hours including tea break, 1 innings each. Ashburnham won the toss and chose to bat. Ashburnham 223/5 d from 36 overs. Martlets 224/7 from 36 overs.

This was my first timed game. Of course, rarely does a team ever get 20 overs (the minimum for the last hour) done in an hour, the normal rate is more like 16 an hour and so the last hour, and the game, is longer than those naughty lying clocks tell you. Given the size of the ground and the frequency with which balls need to be hunted down from hedges and the surrounding fields I’m surprised that the over rate here isn’t noticeably lower than that. The captains agreed beforehand that there would be a declaration at tea if necessary, which would come after 2h20 – all very friendly. I was accompanied by player-umpires, but did square leg duties as normal.

There had been rain overnight, a short shower shortly before play started, and it was very humid, with the forecast promising more rain. Thankfully the forecast was wrong, and while it was overcast until the last half hour there were no interruptions. The pitch which had apparently been bone dry and dusty when mowed the day before was, thanks to the overnight rain, green all over, but the ground was firm all over. It wasn’t very helpful to the bowlers, with no-one really getting the ball to turn much and only one getting noticeable swing.

The game started off extremely high scoring, the first two overs going for 11 and 12, but soon settled down to 6-ish per over. Ashburnham’s openers both got into the 40s, one of them out for 49, and their number 4 got a very good 72*. I thought the Martlets were being very conservative with their appeals. There were a couple of balls when I was surprised they didn’t appeal for LBW. I would have turned them both down, but even so, I’m used to a lot more appeals in league games.

After tea, the Martlets’ innings started just as fast, with 15 and 8 from the first two overs, and the seventh, which understandably was that bowler’s last, went for 20 – he finished his spell on 1/50. The other bowlers were more frugal though, and at one point I wondered if Ashburnham might be able to bowl them out in time. However, the game was won by the Martlets’ 5th and 6th batsman. They came in respectively when the scores were 111 and 113, and made an excellent 70 partnership during which number 5, who was clearly normally a tail-ender, very uncomfortable filling in up the order, made all of 8 runs from 39 balls while his partner tonked it all over the place. While he was clearly uncomfortable at the crease he played a magnificently safe innings, never going for shots beyond his ability, leaving balls when he could, and playing solid defensive shots when he had to. Once those two were out there were only another 34 required and plenty of overs left, so I expected a Martlets’ victory if they played sensibly. And that’s how they were going, until a terribly expensive last over finished the game, with four byes from the last ball. That last over was an anomaly in some otherwise good bowling figures, that bowler getting 3 wickets for 59 runs, having bowled 13 overs (2 of which were maidens) without a break.

One notable feature of the game is the methods of dismissal. Ashburnham’s dismissed batsmen were all caught, while none of the Martlets’ were. I wonder just how rare this is.

I think I had another good game, my one minor error stemming from it being my first timed game and so not being as familiar with this format as I am with limited overs games. There aren’t supposed to be any drinks breaks during the last hour of play, but because they had previously been scheduled for 1h10 into the innings and we started the second innings late as tea was taken rather leisurely, drinks came on after the first over of the last hour. What I should have done is, when my watch buzzed at me for the start of the last hour, called for drinks at the end of that over, and then signalled the start of the last hour when we started the next over. A trivial matter really, and I’m not going to beat myself up over it!

King’s Road Social and Cricket Club vs Plastics XI, 2019-09-14

40/40 game. Plastics won the toss and chose to bat. Plastics 139/6. Kings Road 141/3 from 26.1 overs – scorecard

I’m now winding down the season with a few friendly matches, this one back with the Plastics with whom I started the season, and I stood at the bowler’s end throughout the game. It was a surprisingly hot day for the time of year, with clear skies throughout. We were playing on a well-maintained municipal pitch which had a few green patches in the middle but was completely bare and the surface cracking up at the ends especially around the bowlers’ landing areas. Those noticeably broke down throughout the day becoming rather sandy. The field was huge, roughly the same size as the Oval. As we were playing on a pitch right at one edge of the square we moved the boundary in about 20 yards on the far side. Even so, it was still big enough that we didn’t just get a few 3s being run, there was even a run 4 – with no fielding errors involved!

Plastics innings was dominated by the opening batsman who was not out on 72. They got off to a slow start, with the run rate at one point being just 2 an over. But it soon settled on, and remained at, a more respectable 3 and a bit per over for the rest of the innings. The one really notable event was when the first wicket fell after 16 overs. There was an appeal for LBW, which I turned down (there were a lot fewer appeals in this game than in previous ones) but of course the ball is still live at that point. The batsman was out of his ground, so the quick-thinking King’s Road wicket-keeper, who I thought had an excellent game throughout, came forward, picked it up, and took the bails off to stump him. There was much confusion, but he was still out!

King’s Road pride themselves on the quality of their tea and are competitive about it, with the players each bringing a dish, preferably home-made, and both sides voting after the game for which was best. For me, the simple ham and mustard sarnies won it, but the wicket-keeper’s lamb curry was also excellent.

On to King’s Road’s innings, and to start with it looked like it would be a close game. But it wasn’t long before they were pulling away. After scoring only 19 in the first six overs – which put them behind the required run rate – they got a lot quicker. They were well over half way to the target by the time we took tea, and after tea scored even quicker. You only need to look at the bowling stats to see why. King’s Road’s bowlers got 9 maidens in their 40 overs, and gave away two wides and two no-balls. The Plastics got 1 maiden and gave away 7 wides and 7 no-balls. King’s Road’s bowlers were more controlled and economical, and in limited overs cricket if you can’t bowl a team out quickly being economical is better than taking wickets.

Onto the beer innings – we first went to the Prince of Wales for a quick refresher, a flat roof pub next to the ground that has been done up inside and has a reasonable range of beers but some unfortunately broken down furniture on the patio out the back. We then moved on to the William Morris, which appears to be a new pub in an old riverside mill next to the Wandle. The evening was still warm, and sitting out by the river with some beers and trying to drunkenly explain how to adjudicate wides was a nice end to a good day out. King’s Road are a good club, and I’d be very happy to umpire for them again.

Normally after I’ve written my match report we’d get into the Maoist self-criticism section and you could all laugh at my ineptitude. But I don’t think I made any bad mistakes in this match. Instead I’d like to single out one of the King’s Road batsmen, Raju Mazumder, for excellent sportsmanship. The very first ball of his team’s innings hit him on the pad and raced away towards the boundary. However, he had not played a shot. This is one of those weird edge-cases that very rarely happens, most players don’t know about, and is all too easy to forget as an umpire because it’s so rare. Law 23.2.1 says that leg byes are not given if no shot is offered. Knowing that this is such a rare case, the batsman called “no shot”, which was a very helpful reminder to me! I would have erroneously given four leg byes for his team otherwise, but thanks to his honesty I signalled dead ball, and if it wasn’t for a wide later in the over the Plastics would have opened with a maiden.

Ashburnham vs Bexhill, 2019-08-25

35/35 game. Bexhill won the toss and chose to bat. Bexhill 248/2 (and one player retired on 103 off 56 balls). Ashburnham 180 ao from 34.3 overs.

My now-regular Saturday league fixture clashed with a prior engagement elsewhere so I picked up this friendly Sunday game at the club my father is a regular at. Bexhill are the “big beasts” in local cricket, and they use their friendly Sunday side to blood promising youngsters who they think might be ready to move up to open-age cricket. They had several juniors in their side today, one of whom made his debut half century against adult opposition. I had an umpire colleague for this game, who was also the chairman of the Ashburnham club.

The pavilion

Ashburnham isn’t even a village, it’s a loose collection of widely separated houses and farms. The cricket club has a small, spartan pavilion, with a garden and war memorial nearby. The field is small also, with thick hedges or fences a foot beyond the boundary in three directions and fields beyond. On the fourth side is the pavilion, parking area, and some long uncut grass. Where most of my previous games have had a constant hum of human activity here the background noise is sheep, birds and insects, with the occasional rumble as tourists fly in and out of Gatwick. The pitch is flat and the field as a whole is slightly domed, with a very steep drop in one corner. That drop-off is so steep that when standing at the stumps facing the pavilion you can’t see the boundary rope there so have to rely on fielders’ honesty. Despite the downward slopes everywhere, the ball didn’t run away very fast on the ground as the grass is longer than at most grounds. I expect that’s done deliberately to reduce the number of boundaries, they are still more frequent than elsewhere. Indeed, the player who retired on a century got there almost entirely on boundaries. Breaks in play as lost balls are hunted down are common, and several times we would carry on playing using a spare ball while a team of otherwise unemployed batsmen searched the fields and hedges. I expect to umpire here again once the league season has finished, and will make sure to take spare balls out into the field with me!

Despite what a casual glance at the scoreline would have you think, the teams were fairly evenly balanced, the one exception being the Bexhill opening batsman who scored a quick ton.

There was one incident where I really don’t know what was the right thing to do. Towards the end, as Ashburnham’s wickets were falling like dominoes, one of their batsmen was hurrying to get padded up and didn’t have time to put his boots on so came out wearing slippers. The fielders had joked about appealing for a time-out, but really – in a friendly? I think that my colleague and I would have looked very disappointed at them and offered the captain the opportunity to withdraw such an appeal at least. But slippers. What should we have done? He was an adult, so responsible for his own safety. I quietly joked to a fielder as I stood at square leg “bet he gets a yorker on his toes”. And yes, he did. He managed to avoid being hit, but I wonder if my colleague and I should have immediately had a discussion about dangerous play by the bowler (Law 41). If he’d sent down another I definitely would have. But on the other hand – should we have had a discussion about unfair play (also Law 41) on the part of the batsman? By not wearing appropriate protective gear and hence preventing bowlers from safely bowling yorkers, was he unfairly removing that option from the bowling team? Thankfully the gentleman in question wasn’t in for very long.

I think my performance was mostly good, and the scorers complimented me on my clear signals. I have made a point right from the start of not having twirly flourishes on my signals, of moving if necessary – if, say, there’s a fielder in between me and the scorers – so that they can see me clearly, and of making sure I’m facing them. However, I made two mistakes. The first was that during Bexhill’s innings one of Ashburnham’s bowlers sent down a beamer, so I should have signalled no ball. But I was so entranced by the beauty of the 6 the batsman hit it for that I forgot to signal. By the time I realised my mistake the next ball was already in play so I couldn’t correct my error. The second was that I gave an Ashburnham batsman out LBW. He definitely didn’t get bat on ball, it clearly hit him in line and would have hit the stumps. I raised my finger quickly and instinctively, it just looked so out. But I was wrong. He was a left-hander, and the ball had pitched outside leg. I normally manage to restrain myself and not instinctively wag my finger like that, but this time I failed, and I need to remind myself in the future to be more careful when there’s a left-hander in. Again, I realised my error too late to fix it, which is a shame because he was making a good show of himself, batting well into the gaps in the inner field and running singles well.

Woodside Green vs Plastics XI, 2019-06-30

40/40 game. Woodside Green 289/5 (and one player retired on 100). Plastics 177 ao from 34.5 overs.

The ground, close to Sandilands tram stop, is in a well-heeled part of Croydon, and so far leafier than would be expected of this notoriously concretey town. The comfortable clubhouse is shared with a tennis club. It was quite a warm day so it was agreed to take drinks breaks after 13 and 27 overs instead of just at half way.

My performance was the best I’ve done so far, with no drop-off in my movement. I’m also getting used to being on my feet for so long, they don’t hurt and my back doesn’t ache as much as it did after my first game. I made one contentious decision, an LBW which the batsman was quite cross about, but I was sure and that’s that. Was I actually right? We’ll never know.

Norwood Exiles vs Plastics XI, 2019-06-23

40/40 game. Plastics won the toss and batted first. Plastics 166 ao. Exiles 159 ao.

This is another ground that is in a public park, and shares the club house with the boating club that inhabits the nearby lake, which is separated from the cricket field by their boat yard. There’s a slight slope from one side of the wicket to the other down towards the lake. At one end there is a large tree which overhangs the field at well below head height. I asked if there was a local rule to deal with it, but there isn’t – so as per the standard Laws, the tree is entirely outside the boundary, including the overhanging bit, so you get four runs if the ball hits the ground and then either hits the tree or rolls over the boundary under the tree, and six runs if you hit the tree before the ground. Likewise if a fielder throws the ball and it hits any part of the tree that’s four overthrows.

When I arrived for the pre-match inspection there was a group sitting around – not on the square, which was roped off – having just finished a casual knock-about. The groundsman-cum-scorer was already there and between us we decided that of the two wickets that were ready to use we should use the one furthest from the lake, mostly on the grounds that we’d lose fewer balls. That it was marginally less green, being slightly higher and hence better drained, was a bonus. Being a public park there was unfortunately quite a bit of litter on the outfield, and I gathered up the most egregious of it, including some drinks cans that I’d not have wanted to slide over if I were a heroic fielder.

Again I shared the umpiring responsibilities with player-umpires throughout the day, although this time I was only doing one end.

I did better at signalling byes this time, but made up for it with a different howler. When a ball rolled under the tree I signalled for four runs even though it was miles from the boundary. The chasing fielder, the scorers, and the gaggle of waiting batsmen on the boundary all yelled at me so I swiftly corrected myself. Pedometer data shows that for the first half of the match I was moving a consistent amount, and consistently less for the second half, which is an improvement from the slow decrease over time that I’ve had before. For now, let’s assume that I had to move less in the second innings because of differences in the way the teams played. It definitely wasn’t due to a surfeit of cake at tea.