40/40 game, Beddington won the toss and chose to field. Purley 125/9. Beddington 126/2 from 24 overs – scorecard
I was accompanied throughout by player-umpires, so took the bowler’s end duties for the whole game and had plenty of decisions to make. While I too would have chosen to field if I were captain, I don’t think it actually made much difference in the end. The pitch didn’t do much and while the occasional ball swung nothing went very far, and there was little deviation from the surface, although when it did turn there were wickets to be had.
Purley’s opening batsmen played solidly but scored slowly, so while the first wicket didn’t fall until the tenth over, the score was by then only 32, which I thought was a bit behind par – not, of course, that you can really tell until both teams have had a chance to bat, but I thought it anyway. And by the drinks break on 20 overs, the score had only trickled on to 50 for the loss of another wicket. The scoring was a bit quicker in the second half of Purley’s innings but was never fast, and with wickets falling steadily they left themselves with a lot of work to do.
Beddington’s innings started slowly, and I wondered if it was just going to be one of those slow low-scoring days with a tight finish, but that turned out to just be because Purley had two very good opening bowlers who were efficient even if they only took one wicket between them. One, the captain, only conceded 11 runs from his six overs. Unfortunately at that point the captain had to leave the field, leaving them a man down, and the other opening bowler had to stop at that point due to the limits the ECB imposes on young fast bowlers to prevent their arms falling off. No-one remembered to bring him back into the attack when he was eligible to return. The rest of Purley’s bowling attack was rather more leaky of runs, and even ignoring the one-off which went for 21 runs (that bowler only cost a rather more respectable 5 in his second over, but even so it was also his last) the pace more than doubled. With the score on 113 – so only 13 required to win – and an average of 7 runs per over being scored, I asked the scorer and his lovely assistants to start updating the scoreboard every ball, which surprised some people. I’m not sure why, as the rate the batsmen were going they could easily finish the game within the next over. As it was, they took three overs for those 13 runs. If only those last bowlers had come on a bit earlier in the innings perhaps there would have been more of a fighting chance!
I had no really difficult decisions to make but I did give an unusual no-ball. One of Purley’s bowlers was very slow and eventually one of his balls juuuust hit the ground a second time before the batsman got to it.
One of the gentlemen who stood at square leg pointed out to me during one of our inter-over chats that when I move out from behind the stumps to get square of the wicket ready to judge any run outs, I almost always move to the opposite side from that which the ball has gone. I’m not sure whether this is best practice or not. I started doing that so that I can see where the ball is, meaning that I won’t obstruct a throw towards the stumps, and also when the ball arrives I’m already expecting it and it doesn’t just suddenly appear in my view, which all sounds very reasonable. However, watching TV highlights of the first Test afterwards, I was looking out for it and … the pros do the opposite – they generally move towards the same side that the ball went. I suppose they know best, but I’m not sure why that is best. I shall give it some consideration, but any input from my esteemed readers would be most welcome.