40/40 game. Beddington chose to field. Croydon 167 from 39 overs, Beddington 150/6 – scorecard
Instead of my normal league fixture of the Beddington 4th XI I was given the choice of the 3rds or the 5ths, and took the 5ths match because it wasn’t so far to drive and so more convenient for my evening beerage plans. Many of Croydon’s players were late turning up so they forfeited the toss. Beddington chose to field, which I think was the right decision. It was the sporting decision, not batting against half a team of fielders, but the conditions favoured bowling first as well. It was overcast and humid, and there had been a little rain overnight. The pitch had scattered green patches. The captains agreed that Croydon would provide someone to umpire at the bowler’s end throughout their innings, and that I would stand at the bowler’s end throughout Beddington’s innings. A bit odd, but I’m OK with it. Aside from player safety – stopping play when it’s too wet for example – the umpires’ role is mainly to assist the teams in having their game, and if that’s how they’d like us to assist, that’s how I’ll assist.
And most importantly, cricket teas are back! We’ve had two seasons without, but now that life is pretty much back to normal after the Plague Times the league has decreed that the home team must provide tea again.
Spending a whole innings at square leg meant that I mostly just had to assist my colleague with a few no-ball calls for height, and adjudicate run outs. One I didn’t give because, while I thought it might have been out it was too close for me to be sure – I’d have sent it upstairs to the TV umpire if we had such luxuries. One I gave out. One of Croydon’s openers was dismissed quickly, in the third over with the score on 15, and his replacement was off quickly just two overs later. But their remaining opener and the number 4 batsman steadied the ship and put on almost 50 between them, scoring a steady almost-4 an over. While wickets fell steadily from that point on, I always felt that Croydon were scoring well, and their final score of 167 looked like it would be tough to beat.
During Beddington’s innings the clouds overhead started to clear and by the end it was a lovely sunny evening. Beddington also lost an opener early, and while the other opener didn’t hang around for as long as Croydon’s, Beddington defended their wickets better and at least to start with were keeping up with the required run rate, so it looked as if a win might be on the cards. But where Croydon had started to accelerate a few overs before the drinks break Beddington did not. With five overs left to play they were 20 behind where Croydon had been at the same stage of their innings, and with a couple of overs to go it was obvious that the win wasn’t achievable. However, in the league there are bonus points for scoring 150 runs, and that was achieved on the last ball of the day. Two of Beddington’s young players really stood out for me with the bat. One, a reluctant opener, scored a respectable 20. The other didn’t score much, but he stayed at the crease for a long time and kept his cool with no flailing at the ball. A good cricket temperament!
I was mostly pleased with my performance. The only error I’m aware of is that I didn’t pay enough attention to fielders’ positions, and allowed too many outside the inner ring on a few occasions. Unfortunately I’m told that one of those was for the ball on which a batsman was dismissed, out caught, which wouldn’t have happened if I’d called a no-ball like I should have. I shall try to remember to pay attention to this in the future, although it’s a bugger to enforce, as the inner circle is often either not marked or very hard to see. But it is at least enforceable for fielders positioned right out on the boundary.
Finally, something unusual happened in this game – an all-run four! It should have been two at most, but slow fielding and an inaccurate throw allowed the batsmen to run two more.