I’m still not sure about these ‘scheduled’ midday starts. I’m just back from the ground now, and it’s 8.45pm. That’s far from a perfect time to get back to the hotel. Sure, there was some overtime today and we played till 8pm, but I don’t know if they need to have us starting so late.
Arrived at the ground this morning to be greeted by a helicopter hovering above the outfield. Not the normal thing to be seeing and we knew ‘Stanford’ wasn’t in town, so it could only mean one thing, the outfield is still wet. Someone forked out some cash to quicken the drying process up. Nice job! It still couldn’t do the job to get the game started on time, although that may have taken 30+ deg and a good strong breeze to have done anymore. The grounds men think it speed up the drying time by about five hours, which means, if they hadn’t of used it, we wouldn’t have played at all today.
Start time delayed till 2.45pm after consultations and inspections all day. It’s a tough situation to be in, yes we want to play cricket, yes we could have played cricket a little earlier, but... The outfield was still damp and a little ‘splashy’ in parts too. This means at least two things, player safety and the state of the ball if it gets ‘wet.’ No one wants anyone slipping and pulling up injured and it isn’t fair if the ball gets wet either for the bowling team. We do everything we can to keep that thing as dry as possible so that it keeps its hardness and its ability to swing. One puddle and it takes a few overs to get those properties back.
So a 2.45pm start and 65 overs to get through in the day. My day didn’t really start till after tea. It was me up to bat. Mills had just been given out using the ‘referral’ system, something that is quickly going down like a lead balloon in our changing room. We’ve now had two against us and one turned down when we were fielding. I expect a few short ones, but not as many as I got today. Edwards was bowling from one end and Taylor from the other. First couple of balls from Edwards I dug out a couple of Yorkers. And that was about that for balls in my half. The next few either hit me or whizzed past my head. The first short one, the most important one as it will dictate how they bowl from there, I duck it and it doesn’t get up as much as I though, either that or I didn’t get down quick enough. It hit me hard on my left shoulder blade. A quick groan and I thought “damn it, I ain’t showing nothing” so I got straight back up and looked right back at him. Normally when you hit a tail ender you check to see if they’re ok; nothing of the sort out here today. That’s fine with me, it’s locked away. Next ball bouncer, I get under this one pretty well, pop straight back up and looked back at him. Edwards follow through was getting longer and longer. Getting closer and closer to me, and not to see what I was going to be doing for tea! Eventually I got a fullish one which I hit just about as well as I’ve ever hit a cricket ball, through wide mid on all the way to the fence. I can tell you, I’ve never felt better about getting off the mark before, it had been a while. And that really was the end of anything in my half. It was just bouncers now. At one point I pointed at the stumps and said, “Have a go at those.” Edwards replied, “I’m having too much fun to worry about them.” Ok, cool!
One short ball after another and I’m not the best with them. I eventually had one that I popped up back to Edwards trying to keep it off my nose. I had ducked and weaved most of the ones before and was very angry with myself for not getting under this one, instead I tried to fend it away. Not good enough, still got a lot of work to go there.
So we’re all out and Dizzy has a new high score. We’re out in the park with about an hour’s play, if the light holds. It wasn’t great while I was out there, and it certainly hadn’t got any worse in the changeover. It soon actually got better with the sun coming out for the first time in the day. I’m not saying it was warm, but it was nice to see some sun. Hopefully it will be out for a while tomorrow. In saying that we have worked out that, down here, when the sun is out the pitch plays quite flat, and with some cloud cover it does a little bit more off the deck. So, some sun and some cloud will be nice, as long as it’s warmer that it was today!