Friday, 24 July 2015

Column 24, 2015 – Four day endurance test

Printed in The Cricket Paper, issue 127, Friday July 24, 2015.
[Full text below]

Every club cricketer harbours daydreams of playing a full, first-class-style-two-innings match. If I’ve had this conversation once, I’ve had it a dozen times. “11am start. Lunch and tea. No bowling restrictions, no over restrictions, just bat till you’re out. Twice. Amazing – we should so do that!”

They usually happen at either end of the season, these conversations, when enthusiasm is high, or the prospect of the long cricketless months is looming large again. Or in the depths of January, when the winter tours are in full swing and we’re up into the early hours watching England toil in equatorial sunshine.

The conversations invariably conclude with the doubtless accurate assertion that it would either result in a very long game with very low scores, or it’d be all over inside a day. These are village cricketers we’re talking about, after all. Besides, 22 blokes off work and domestic duty for three extra cricket days? The organisation alone is surely beyond us. It’ll never happen.

I like to delude myself that my batting lends itself to a longer game. You know the sort of thing: patience, defend the good balls, leave anything off-line, punish the bad balls. Brigadier Block. The Wall. I indulge this delusion, despite a convincing pile of evidence to the contrary.

The latest neatly provided by England’s attempts to staunchly bat out the draw for a day and a half at Lord’s, crushed in 37 overs. TMS had a telling stat: batting five sessions to save a Test has only ever happened five times.

But that doesn’t stop us weekend warriors wanting a crack at it.

The other factor is fitness. If I bat for 30 overs, I know about it all week. If I bowl 10 overs of gentle leggies, my shoulder aches for days. Bat all day? Bowl 25 overs? Three days on the trot? Not sure I’d make it.

Doing the fixtures this winter, a next-best-thing opportunity presented itself. Old Wimbledonians, a big London club, were touring the New Forest and had one fixture left to fill – did we fancy a game on the Monday?

With a league game on Saturday, and a friendly scheduled for the Sunday, this could be the closest I ever get to the full game. Not one three day game, admittedly, but three consecutive days. To top it off, I’d be at Lord’s for the Test on Friday. I’ve been looking forward to it all year. Would I survive this four day endurance test!?

The answer, somewhat predictably, was deeply disappointing. Saturday we got almost as soundly thrashed as England at Lord’s. I was one of several ducks, clean bowled through the Delusional Brigadier Block Wall. I’ve had more tiring bowel movements. Sunday the opposition couldn’t raise a side so I spent the day being dad-taxi, and Monday I was out for 8 in two overs and took 1 for 8 in two overs, comprehensively cancelling myself out.

My four day endurance test turned out to be basically a weekend off.

- ends 500 words -

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