Old Rutlishians vs Beddington 4th XI, 2020-09-05

40/40 game. Beddington won the toss and batted first. Beddington 98 ao from 35.2 overs. Old Rutlishians 99/5 from 31.2 overs – scorecard

This was the last match of the truncated league season and Beddington were duking it out with Sutton for bottom of the league, although there is no promotion and relegation this year. The conditions were excellent, with some cloud cover but intermittent sunshine, and a nice dry field. The wicket was rather green. My only concern about the ground came up during the second innings, when the bowler’s landing point at my end was getting rather eroded away, not helped by a batsman running his bat into it rather hard. Conditions didn’t deteriorate to the extent that I thought anything needed to be done, but if this had been a 50 over game – and had gone the distance – I think things would have been different. For the first time in a league match this season there was another umpire so I got a stand at square leg half the time, as the Cricket Gods intended. I’ve noted previously how, while I don’t mind being the only “full time” umpire and doing bowler’s end duties throughout, it is nice to have another umpire instead of a succession of otherwise unoccupied batsmen. That’s partly because you get more consistency, but also partly because you can chat with each other about the players without worrying about giving away information about what the bowlers are doing.

Beddington’s innings followed what has become a familiar pattern this season, with one or two batsmen making a decent start – the openers got 11 (off 16 balls, a good solid defensive showing before I gave him out LBW) and 36 – but then little to back them up. Only one got beyond 20, and only four made double figures. Scoring was extremely slow, at around 2 runs per over in the first ten overs. It then briefly went up to just over 5 an over for a short while as Old Ruts third and fourth bowlers came in, but that flurry didn’t last. From 66/3 in the 21st over, things collapsed to 98 all out from bowling that was very economical and a decent fielding performance.

Set a target of just 99 to win the sensible money would have been on Old Ruts to win quickly before everyone headed off for end of season drinks at their home clubs. But Beddington’s opening bowlers did an excellent job. Both opened with a maiden, and between them they gave away only 35 runs in their 16 overs, taking four wickets. If the team had kept going at that rate a Beddington win was on the cards, but it wasn’t to be. Several dropped catches meant that only one more wicket fell, and a settled partnership for the last ten overs played brought the score from a precarious 51/5 to the required 99 – with the last run coming, unfortunately, from a wide that was soooo wide that it was just impossible for me to be charitable about it and I had no choice but to give it, and be a meanie to the bowler.

I was happy with my performance, although I made two controversial decisions. The first was during Beddington’s innings when I gave the opening batsman out LBW. I took a while to make my decision, as it was close and I wanted to run it through in my head again, but I decided that the ball was going to just barely hit leg stump. Definitely an “umpire’s call” decision if there was a TV review! As I was raising my arm to signal that the batsman was out one of the fielders said “going down leg”, but no, I was sure. I was in a better position to see it than he was. The batsman was understandably miffed, and afterwards told me that if it was such a close decision I should have given him the benefit of the doubt. That, however, is not something that appears in the laws. I should give him out if I am sure that he is out. And I was sure. I was sure that he was only just out. The “benefit of the doubt” confusion comes from, if an umpire does have some doubt about a decision then he should err towards not making a decision – that is, not signalling out, or no ball, or wide, or anything else. But provided that I’m sure, I can be sure that the ball would have just tickled the stump, or sure that a bowler overstepped his mark by the smallest of margins. My other controversial decision was the first of two wides (the other being clearly wide to all concerned) I gave against one of Beddington’s bowlers. Again, it was a close decision – I suppose all contentious decisions will be – but I was sure, so gave it.

Finally, I added another no-ball to my collection! There are a bazillion reasons for a no-ball, the most common being the bowler being too far forward, and the two types of too high delivery. I’ve given those three numerous times. I’ve also given the rather rare no-ball for a ball bouncing twice before reaching the crease. In this game one of the Old Ruts bowlers had a delivery style where he kicked his rear foot up and to the side as he delivered the ball, usually missing the stumps by a few inches, occasionally straying much closer – and once, he kicked a bail off.