Best Innings ever

We lost our cricket match today. Now, one might think of this in sadness, but it was a small victory for us in a way. A little context may help.

At the start of play today, we were in the woeful position of 4/8. Yep, that’s right. And sundries was the top score (I think they still were at the end of the day …) Anyway, we had lost some of our gun batsmen in one of those dangerous twilight spells, so although we would like to have been going for the target, we knew we had to fight hard to get there.

By the end of the first session, we were 7 for something or another. Urghh. I was facing the prospect of batting, warming up some of the techniques learnt from Kinetic. Anyway, shortly into the second session, Dave Mugridge gets out, so I’m in. We are 8/sixty-something. I get praying, as is my now usual custom, as I walk onto the pitch. Chris Gray, the in batsmen, who also happens to be perhaps one of our most talented batsman, gives me encouraging words and advice on facing the current bowler.

First ball, swings a bit, eyes not quite in yet, barely bat on it. Second ball, hits me high on the back thigh. I’m nursing the bruise as I write this. Third ball, goes past off. First over. At this point I’m just trying to work myself in, seeing the ball. Chris does very well at the other end, moving the strike towards the end of the over. I dig myself in, and now I’m seeing the ball just right.

Completed Objective 1 reached – getting set.

By the time I’m set, and the score ticks along, we make it to tea, and a good break. We mull over a little on the target. There’s still plenty of time in the day, I’m feeling good about batting, and we’re not beaten yet.

We now have to work to the follow-on target of 113. If we get there, we can deny the other team outright and at least secure for ourselves a competition point. After an over or two, Chris hits a few good shots, and suddenly, we’re nearly there. I’m going well at blocking, not playing, and getting a few random runs, including a four which went along the ground through the slips, and a random ball that kinda bounced over the slips. All the while I continue praying, and my legendary hidden talent of hand-eye coordination and ability to not get out to swing bowling kicks in. Note that I never seem to have control of this. In fact, usually, I don’t actually know consciously what I’m doing. Heck, its like I’m naturally good at this, and I don’t know!

A few overs later, we reach the follow-on target. They’ve sent their best at me and we are kicking on. It takes the weight off the shoulders a little, and feels better, knowing that they at least have to bat again to force outright. Nevertheless, we continue.

Completed objective 2 – avoid follow on

The goal now was simply to survive for as long as possible. The more time we occupied the crease, the less time they had, and also, we may just have a shot at the win. But one step at a time.

I dig in still, with my seemingly characteristic invincibility against swing bowling. And its good swing bowling. I deftly block, move out of the way, I even ducked a bouncer.

A few overs later, Chris gets out, caught at point. Oh well. 1 more wicket. Me and Michael Nelson. The 2 lefties, left to battle it out in the middle again. I’m saddened by the loss, by we must continue on. I tell Nelso, “The name of the game is frustation”. We now had to hold our wicket for as long as possible. Although we would naturally get tired, the onus was on them to get us out. And the longer we stay there, the more annoyed they get that they can’t get a simple wicket like the last two batsmen out.

Nelso, who is no bunny, digs in. I score a few more random runs, including a bash down to mid-off towards the end of the session. In the process, I go past my previous top score for the team (10). We have a good run and we make it to drinks. By this stage, I’ve batted for close to 2 hours now, a full session and the better part of another. But I’m feeling good, we’re both feeling good, and we can tell how annoyed the other team is.

Back out, before the last session closed, they had begun some new stuff, bringing on spin (which I love so much its not funny). I face a left arm off-spinner (to me, that is, so a finger spinner). On the other side they have this old guy. Second over off the spinner, I hoike a sweep shot over mid-wicket. That shot felt so good. I also did one of my trademark dabs to fine leg. Its probably my favourite shot, great against slower bowling when they don’t get the line right.

An over or two later, I get bowled by the old guy. Oh well. I had lasted 27 overs (nearly half an innings) and about 2 sessions. We had survived for a very long time. The opposition didn’t go for outright, it was now too late in the day. I got a few congratulations from the opposition, who seem like a good bunch of guys. I get plenty more from the team. I’d made 15 runs and had outlasted and outscored some of the best batsmen in our team, and prevented an outright loss. I praised the Lord who looked after me in this, and I continue to look to him for everything.

I’m tired, and I expect my muscles will complain in the morning. Au revoir.

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