Sunday, April 18, 2010

It was like top scoring on a sticky wicket...

It was a sticky pitch. That’s my line and I’m sticking to it. It had been raining the week before and the pitch was laid with dark, loamy soil. It was almost black, that soil.
A black and sticky pitch, that day the Under-14N team drove out to play Westering. The problem was also that we relied too much on our top order.
Our captain, Dave Mallett, had played EP Schools the year before, so we were always expecting at least a fighting 30 from him.
Anthony Marriner was good for ten, and Steve Griffin could wield the long handle in the lower order. So we were always guaranteed to put together at least 50 runs, which, in the under-14 league, is a defendable total.
That isn’t going to happen this Wednesday. We roll up Cape Road and spend the customary 15 minutes getting lost in Westering. As we get out the kombi, we check out the opposition and are relieved to see they don’t have too many big okes.
Alas, big okes aren’t going to be the problem. It’s the sticky pitch, which stops the ball coming onto the bat. At least that’s how Dave Mallett explains it when he trudges back from the middle, having been dismissed for nought.
Grey are batting first, and we are one for one, with our only decent batsman already out, and dejectedly sipping on a tuck-shop Fanta. At least we still have Marrinner… Oh! Looks like that’s him – out caught ‘n’ bowled. What’s the matter Ant?
“Yussie! The pitch is sticky, hey!”
If we don’t watch out, I’m going to have to bat! Oh no! There goes Ant Foster! Good grief! Where’s that Gunn & Moore? Time to head out to the middle…
Guess we’re about to find out what “sticky pitch” means.
“Middle stump, please sir,” I enquire of Mr Crankshaw, who duly grants it. The Westering bowler stands poised at the top of his run-up. A breeze ruffles my schoolshirt, I adjust my sticky ballbox in my white Judrons. A quick glance around the field to try memorise the field placing, and here he comes. A short, tubby, tanned kid with a strange action…
It’s all side-arm. Right arm round the wicket. His first ball pitches outside off stump and bounces up in slow motion, begging to be hit. I shift onto the back foot and crisply late-cut it down to third man. We run three.
The next ball I face, I hack baseball-style straight up and am caught at mid-on.
And that’s it. I am the top scorer for the Under-14 N team. If you don’t count extras.
But when they read the scores out at school the next day, I don’t get to stand up in assembly. Because we lost by ten wickets. We were all out for 18.

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