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Sunday, May 18, 2008

The land of a thousand cricket pitches

To have a look at where I mean - paste all this gobbledygook into your browser and you'll hopefully get a satellite image?

View Larger Map

Other than go onto one of the on-line satellite map things and type in Ilford, then once you're there type in fairlop waters and you should get a Lake with an island and the pitches are just above the Lake on the map.

So the team we played were Loxford Falcons and their pitch is one of the ones over the back as you look at the map - bigger than most of the others with a clubhouse and a practice wicket just next to the clubhouse. So a slightly bigger pitch than most of the others we've been playing on. The team consisted today of.... (I think this was the batting order)?

John Buckley - Bat
Chris Buckley - Bat
Nick Buckley - wicket
Lee Downes - Bat & PT Bowler
Glen "Bobby" Ewing - Bowler/Bat
"Swiss" Danny Groves - Bat
Dave "Super Dave" Gaylor
Lee's brother who's name I can't remember (Reece/Rhys) maybe?
Lovejoy - Bowler
Dave Thompson - Bowler (Supposedly)
Neil "Sammers" Samwell - Capt/Bowler

Blimey I just saved the blog at this point and just checked to see what it looks like and was kind of surprised how efficiently that big link I pasted in brought up the satellite in the blog! How good is that! I'm most impressed, that's a whole new toy to play with!

Anyway - I haven't got a clue who won the toss, but as with previous weeks we fielded first - I think the theory here is that we then have a total to chase? This week what with having a bit of a nightmare with a load of wides I had a bit of a throw around with Lee before the game started and that seemed to go fairly well. So a short while later in cloudy bright conditions (more cloud than bright) and 15 degrees c with a cross wind blowing from the NE and the sun in the SSW approx the game commenced with Lovejoy and Super Dave as the first bowlers.

I have to confess at this point - I've not been able to record the events so well this week as we didn't have our resident umpire with us (Bruno) and we all had to take turns umpiring which means whereas last week I was able to sit and look over the scorers shoulder at the figures this week I was out umpiring and taking pictures again.

Initially it looked quite healthy with Lovejoy and Super Dave keeping the runs down to 3.8 an over or something in that region and their two openers looking a bit cautious. But as they settled in they started to gain their confidence and the average crept up to around 4 per over and eventually by the time they'd got 100 on the score board it was in the 5+ an over region. Neil then started to swap the bowlers around a bit because it looked as though the 2 openers were there for the duration of the match and were getting the hang of Super Dave and Lovejoys bowling. I think Neil bowled along with "Bobby" for a while and there didn't seem to be a great deal of difference and then he brought me in (I was tempted to write attack - but attack is hardly a word I'd use for my bowling). I think I shared the bowling with Super Dave and again I was into the wind and Super Dave was given the wind behind him end.

As far as I'm concerned I bowled crap again. Admittedly not as many wides as last week, but a few none the less. The wicket was one of those really nice looking ones - all compressed mud and no grass and I think they were all saying that it was good for bowlers especially if you can get the ball to spin. I always think they look lovely and smooth like the tarmac I practice on a lot and get Hockey balls to turn a country mile - but here in the reality of a cricket match it seems I can barely throw the ball from one end to the other let alone make it spin and turn. My thumb has got better now and I'm able to bowl flippers and with Lee earlier I was getting them to turn quite nicely, but here in the glare of the spotlight I felt apprehensive and bowled only what I can describe as cautiously - trying not to repeat the wides of last week. Anyway so as not to bore everyone - I didn't get a wicket at all and was batted all over the park especially when the ball went down the legside. I've still got lots to learn. Some of the "Wanna be" Wrong uns turned slightly and they kept getting hit towards Super Dave but over his head or along the ground most of the time. He was in a position between Silly Mid off and extra cover (Might be mid off)? Some of the balls also went up in the sky and in the direction of Mid wicket but always a bit short or over their heads.

More impressive was my fielding today - I stopped a few shots with some dives and caught some dude at square leg who looked like he meant business. He hit the ball and again like last time it seemed I had loads of time to think about it - ooh s**t here it comes and I'm quite close so this is going to hurt like hell, I had started to move in the wrong direction bodily but somehow I kept my head in line with the ball and just stuck my hands out where I thought it was going and caught it nicely as I fell away to the ground backwards. So that was okay. That was a ball off of Lee's bowling who then went on to take another wicket and Lee's noted to be a Part time bowler. In fact Lee took their main batsman who was on 93 with a ball that went through his legs and caught leg stump.

Super Dave took his wickets bowling Leg Spin - he'd bowled all the overs in his spell up until the last 2 or 3 seam balls but then turned to bowling leg spin and took out one of the openers and then bowled the next bloke out on a golden duck "I've been reading your blog Dave and tried some of your techniques"! Neil also took two, one of which Lovejoy caught and I think the other he bowled clean, but I don't remember the deatils.

They finished on 221 with wickets in hand. A better result than last year when we played them as they made 250 +. So now we were chasing. Within a matter of minutes one of our openers went on his second ball - John Buckley. Chris and Nick Buckely stuck it out for a while but we could see right from the outset that the run rate was slow and they were keeping us pinned down with less than three runs an over. Nick was next caught making way for Lee. Lee was there for quite some time with Chris hitting a few fours, but still the run rate was low and the game was disappearing out of our grasp. Chris was next to be replaced by Bobby who played alongside Lee. Then Lee went to be taken over by Danny - Danny hit some fours, but we were in need of a Dave Skeels innings, but he wasn't with us today. Then our lot started to fall like flies Rhys? was next and I had to stop taking pictures as it looked like I was going to get a bat. Rhys went fairly soon to be replaced by Super Dave. By now I'd Almost got all my gear on and we lost another wicket and we were on on the 37th over of 40 and Lovejoy said I could go on in place of him, but I couldn't get my bloody leg pads sorted in time and said for Lovejoy to go on and he did. So once again I missed my chance to bat - not that I'd be likely to make any runs let alone impact on the game, but then as Super Dave said later - "You're only ever going to get better by doing it".

We lost 221 - 161 which is apparently slightly better than last year, but they did have the services of a really good fast bowler Danny apparently asked his if he could slow down a bit because he couldn't even see the ball it was that fast.

In bewteen my umpire duty which I screwed up a bit - I should have given a no-ball for a shoulder height beamer that Lee had to fend off, I used their practice wicket and bowled far better on that. Although I still can't bowl Leg Breaks despite all the optimism recently and seemingly being able to do it on concrete with seamless balls? Talking to Super Dave after the game he was saying that I'd improved massively since last year and he was making direct comparisons with "The Wizard" it seems that they've been winding him up saying that I'd moved ahead of him in the potential dept pointing out that I can get the ball to spin both ways. If I could get a bit more speed I'd be inclined to say I'm in the competition and try and prove the point, but all the time I'm so slow I'd say he's still got the edge, but the bowling figures will no doubt be the proof. So I wonder how he got on today as he played with the Sunday 1st XI?

So more work to do - faster and more accurate. I think the thing I was doing wrong today was that I was trying to bowl down the sides - trying to get a bit flash and get the ball to turn in. I reckon and I think Super Dave said to do this I'd be far better off just bowling straight at the stumps and if it turns that then may force an error and if it doesn't turn the batsman has to do something with it?


I never expected this to be easy as sports photography is a specialism that generally requires specialist lenses. But today the light was fairly poor so shooting at 200 iso at f5.6 meant that I was shooting with shutter speeds of 1/250 and hand holding them at that speed was never going to be advisable. As a consequence many of the shots today were rubbish and the conclusion is that I'll have to start using a tripod or just shoot on days when there's a lot more light around.

Top shot - is the end of the match with Lovejoy leading the way off the pitch
2nd shot is Dave "Super Dave" Gaylor at the end of the match and the last shot is Super Dave again just after being dismissed.
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