The umpire strikes back

Vs Stowupland (home) 22nd May ‘21

The day had finally arrived; league cricket was returning to Fortress Rec Club after almost two years.  The sightscreens were gingerly pushed back into place, the advertising boards were plonked into position willy-nilly, and even the changing rooms had been freshly ralgexed for a socially-distanced return.

With yet more new opposition in the form of Stowupland, at least this time there was no setting the satnav to somewhere 60 minutes north.  This time though, we’d have to get all those nasty jobs done in advance that make a cricket club tick, so although some players took the easy option of a late arrival or wearing their best clothes so as to avoid any manual efforts, all was ready to go on time.  Special mention must go to new member David Mead who not only helped out with all the ground tasks when he wasn’t even in the playing XI, but also stuck around to do the scoring all afternoon.

Meanwhile, Daryl won the toss yet again and given the recent weather conditions and wet outfield chose to bowl first. Initially, it looked like a good call as the opening batsmen struggled to put the ball away, but were helped by a number of wides and pies tossed up by our openers.  In this new era of #MeToo, we won’t name the offenders, but their surnames rhyme with Jason & Boon. When one of the batters decided however to turn a two into a one, opportunity knocked and Connor ruthlessly threw down the stumps from 18 inches away with the unfortunate batsman well short.  This brought together the Blanchard father and son combo, whereupon Colne in generous fashion gave them every opportunity to stick around for longer than should have been allowed.  Having focused at the previous Wednesday’s training session on our fielding and catching practice, the litany of dropped catches suggested our time might have been better spent in the bar; drops came thick and fast from some of the young gun fielders  – Sleeman & Richardson – as well as from the old peashooter ones, Holdgate sr. & Kerry.  With the younger Blanchard going on to make 65* and two other batsmen making >35, Colne would eventually be frustrated at only taking four wickets in total, with the other three coming from the one catch taken by Ben off Harry’s bowling and two straight bowled by Connor.  A notable highlight was that wides were the only extras. (who was that keeper, I hear you asking, Mr Doyle …?)  

So a target of 170 to win couldn’t be beyond the new power-batting outfit we’ve put together, could it ?  With the oppo providing one bowler who couldn’t stop bowling long hops, David was soon eyeing up which particular target beyond the shed was a realistic range-finder, and an escalating run rate sent batsmen #3-11 into peaceful slumber. They were rudely awoken though when the same bowler started to bowl waist-high no balls; on calling a 3rd one in conjunction with his fellow umpire’s signal, Tom then had to politely ask the opposition team captain to mind his P’s & Q’s and kindly not direct them in his direction when he made the ‘no ball’ call….or something like that.

Having hit a rapid-fire 36 from just 23 balls, David swivelled in front of his stumps one time too many, failed to connect and was rightly given out lbw by ‘Honest Ben’. Daryl too, was soon on his way caught between leaving and playing at one that ricocheted onto his stumps.  This bought together the more peaceful partnership of Pat & Colin, safe in the knowledge that they could move along at a far more sedate pace given the fireworks of the opening 10 overs.  Pat was soon bowled by one that should have been despatched to the tennis courts, bringing the Holdgate’s together to play their much loved game of ‘rock back – take a swipe – miss – repeat’.  But to give them credit, they also put away plenty of bad balls, so that by the time Jack had added 19 and Colin was out for 17, only a further 7 was required with time still on our side.  In between, Connor had also entertained with his own brand of ‘Tile Replacement’ batting that had unaware spectators cowering under the shelling, adding 24 in rapid time.

As ever with Colne, where there is hope there is fear.  When Nick also departed with the score on 163 having added 9, the Moon brothers came together to ensure those fears were put to bed.  Tom saw out an over carefully to save Ben & Harry putting their pads on, leaving Dave to summon all his strength to hit the promising young off-spinner for an enormous match-winning six… least it would have been had it not landed four inches inside the boundary line.

Another win, but knocked off the top spot this week by another club playing their first match and so having a simple average that’s better than ours, but surely we’ll reclaim that position next week over at Woolpit ?  We can only hope that these dropped catches and bowling points don’t hurt us later in the season !

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