And so it begins. The Hyde Heath 2011 cricket season sputters into life, with the traditional intra-club curtain raiser. In glorious sunshine, it’s decided that we play a ‘pairs’ match in order for everyone to get a little something out of the day in advance of things kicking off in earnest next Sunday. 8 overs per pair, -20 for every dismissal. Done.
In a slight change of format (to keep things interesting, and reflect the unusual nature of the match) the editorial team at Cricket Tragics have opted for a series of snazzy bullet points. Thus:
The first outing of the season always makes one thing abundantly clear: I am horribly unfit. But I’m not the only one. Due to the format of the match we were all in the field for nearly 60 overs and, by the end, visibly wilting.
2. The Pitch
Once again, Mikey has excelled. Even with the mower mysteriously broken, the pitch played pretty true, although there was more in it for the bowlers than usual. Given that I managed to find occasionally lavish turn, I’m certainly not complaining.
Cricket is about strategy. And it’s also about strategy going out the window at the first available opportunity. With the top-scoring pair only posting a total of 34, my batting partner, Richard Austin, and I decided to go for a safety-first approach. Aim for five an over, and keep wickets intact at all cost. Unfortunately Richard failed to receive his own memo and came out all guns blazing. Yes, he hit some sumptuous shots, but in between times he was dismissed three times, and our chance of victory soon evaporated.
Fielding by and large was pretty poor (although not as poor as some of the umpiring – how long before the UDRS is seen at this level?) but there were two notable exceptions. Firstly, a blinding one-handed catch in the gulley by Henry Capper to dismiss the cavalier Austin and cost us 20 runs; and second, an excellent leaping snare by young Matt, who looks like he could be quite a cricketer.
Shrimpy and Henry both looked very good as ever, whilst Nick and Rich showcased some impressive strokeplay. I scored surprisingly quickly (for me) but the batsman of the day, unusually, was Spencer North, who carried his pair to a deserved victory. If he carries on the season with this new, sensible approach (combined with his natural ability to hit sixes with ease) I think this could be a good year for him, batting in the lower middle order.
Jez was as steady as ever, I got some serious turn, but dropped too short too often, which is something I’m going to have to work on. Overall though we looked a bit short on seamers (with no Ali, Amala, Bradley, Airdy or Luke) but with the pitch taking turn this early in the season (and several spinners available) we needn’t get too worried.
Tea of course is Hyde Heath’s traditional strength, and the new season kicked off in fine style. Nick’s chicken tikka sandwiches were again the stand-outs, although some egg and mustard sandwiches were another highlight. The samosas were a nice touch too.
8. The Plough
The Plough thankfully remains unchanged. As does our conversation in it. Cricket? Cricket.