A mixed start to the season!
It was a nailed on certainty that after all the winter nets, the analysis of my game, the talking rather than doing that in my first innings I would plant my foot, try and play around my pad and get out LBW, for a duck. A fourth ball duck at that. A fourth ball duck batting at 7 going in with only 4 runs required for the victory ….. “you only had one job to do!”
On the plus side I fielded really well and was very happy with the improvement over last year. I was disappointed not to bowl especially as part of the reason for dropping down to bat at 7 included bowling a bit. Still we won our first match, it was a great game, and my body held up well so putting aside the unnecessary snide comments that I received from some in the club it was a welcome and satisfying start to the season.
As it worked out I had no nets the week following: the nets are still to be repaired and the roll on net hadn’t arrived and I was at Warwickshire on the Thursday for their first home fixture, but I did spend a lot of time in the garden with a feed buddy working on a more open (and lower stance), a higher bat position and a simpler trigger movement (just taking my back leg back and across and leaving my left leg open which makes for a more open stance and a wider base i.e. lower). This really helps with keeping my front leg out of the way, stops me planting my foot and makes it easier to get my head over the ball which I wasn’t doing.
Must confess that throughout the week I was expecting to be dropped as a) I had batted poorly and b) it was a cup game and a number of players had yet to start their season AND we only had one team playing on the Sunday so plenty of players available.
Selected! I was determined to put all the practice to good use.
First things first though I fielded really well and if the snide comments from the week before had been hurtful, the kinder words recognising how much my fielding had improved were appreciated. I bowled five over and took 1 for 26 BUT one missed stumping (which turned into a run out) and three misfields for 4 showed how fickle this game is AND how important fielding is as I could so easily have had 2 for 17 off 5. Part way through the innings I felt my knee “give” a little but it wasn’t a huge issue.
Batting again at 7 I enjoyed watching the youngsters put on a steady start, but we slowly slipped behind the modest scoring rate and with 4, 5 and 6 falling in attempts to push the score on I walked out with 42 runs required in 6 overs. Not the greatest start as was involved in two run outs – the first was a single and the other batter made their ground but was given out to a shocking decision whilst the second was a suicidal call from the other batter who was running to the danger end. With our number 9 coming and going without troubling the scorers it was down to myself and one of our excellent juniors to try and scrape a victory. I struggled to find the boundaries (which meant we ran a lot of 2s and 1s) and really didn’t get enough of the strike and despite a 16 off 19 (and 12 off 14 for JB) we fell 12 runs short. It was a great game, played in the right way, and personally I was pleased (and relieved) that all three aspects of my game had contributed and ‘held up” although it turned out my knee not so well as I had thought.
Analysis of our first two games through up some interesting and informative (in my mind anyway) information:
- Maidens – we bowled 7 and 5, the opposition 10 and 8, so we need to look at rotating the strike and keeping the scoreboard ticking over,
- Extras – we conceded 16 and 4, the opposition 29 and 27, so 20% of our runs have been gifted to us by extra (we have gifted 7% of the oppositions runs).
Early days and all that but we need to keep an our generosity (maidens batted out) and can’t expect our opponents to be so generous as the season progresses (20% of our runs from extras).
As mentioned I felt my knee during the second game and fair to say it was swollen and painful on the Monday. It is currently still swollen, but less painful and I am thankful that we had no game this weekend. I think it is a strange combination: both knees have their usual post match tenderness behind the knee caps from running and both thighs felt stiff (did a lot more running in second game) but I think I have stretched a ligament in knee doing a rather impressive long barrier made worse (ironically) by the fact that I have been doing some specific exercises for my lower back which I have now noticed have worked really well (virtually no pain) but I think have caused a slight alignment issue in my right leg which has contributed to to the injury.
I am being very strict on the ice, ibuprofen and Ibuleve and short walks with the dogs and will be doing some stretching and strength this week and will only net on Thursday so hopefully fit for Sunday.
I think we need to work harder on the being a cricketer side of the game: having strategies for different situations, finding a winning formula, and getting a balanced and stable team.
On the field I made my debut’ for Staffordshire Seniors, somethingI had been looking forward to for two years, so it was more than a tad frustration that my participation was limited to batting. As it was an internal club trial and I am not eligible until August 1st it wasn’t a huge issue and the main objective was to get involved and start to build some relationships. An informal 24* before being retired was good for the ego, value time in the middle and further evidence that when I get my mind in gear I can still play.
So 40 runs in three innings, once out with a rather false average of 40 was an acceptable start. It may even have been more but the knee injury meant I had to pull out of my first game for the Strollers v Fossils in Birmingham which I had been looking forward to.
Off the field a couple of trips to Edgbaston, a lunch meeting at Leicestershire County Cricket Club, my first Iftar, a few post game beers (and in once case a curry), and inactivity as I rest my knee has not helped the must needed weight loss. In fact quite the opposite so I think a strict diet and no alcohol may be required as I am not going to be able to train much and play given the state of my knee.
Early indications/thoughts are that I will manage one net session a week with Thursday being the obvious one as it gives me longer to recover after a weekend game and will give me a good indication of how I will feel on the following weekend.
For now though it is just great to be back!