The game was delicately poised, yet again. Marshalling the troops, I threw the ball to Stanley, and called on him for a big effort in his second spell. Dodge was on strike, and we really needed to get him out if we were to win this one. Whilst fielding, I had noticed that Dodge had been standing out of his crease when facing. In order to put pressure onto him, I stood up to the stumps. The smarty pants simply grinned at me, and very deliberately stood with his back foot just out of his ground. I signalled to Stanley to bowl one down the leg-side for a quick stumping. Three balls and 12 byes later, I realise that Stanley wasn’t up to the task of putting it in the right spot. It is very frustrating to come up with a plan, and then have it fail due to poor execution by the bowler. I went back to a more traditional distance from the stumps, and I’ll be buggered if Dodge didn’t immediately move so that he was now standing inside his crease. This guy was seriously getting under my skin, although I was naturally too experienced to let it show. I called out some encouragement to Stanley and he managed to keep Dodge to only 6 runs off the final three balls.
After my retirement from the crease, we needed a new bowler. Weezel was making the traditional gestures indicating he wanted a go. He was whirling his arms around, doing elaborate stretching exercises, and yelling out “give me a bowl you stupid nong”. I picked the ball up carefully in my gloves, looked Weezel in the eye and threw the ball straight to ..... Cow. It was a coincidence that Cow happened to be standing there, but I wasn’t prepared to let that stand in the way of putting Weezel back in his place – last time that dickhead gives me out while I’m batting. “Have a trundle Cow” I called out. Cow looked surprised and tried to insist he wasn’t a bowler. I told him I had complete faith in his abilities, and headed back to the other end, effectively ending the conversation. In hindsight, perhaps I should have listened to him. He wasn’t a bowler. In fact, if you went through the relevant taxonomy and hierarchy he wasn’t a platter, tureener or even a gravy boater. His bowling action provided adequate symptomology for a vet to successfully diagnose Cow with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. After one disastrous over yielding 30 runs (including eight wides, three no-balls for throwing and four dead balls for deliveries that didn’t make it to the batsman), I realised I would probably have to think carefully about giving him another over.
Stanley bowled another tight over that yield both a wicket and only a few runs. More importantly, he had kept Dodge off strike. The game had now entered the final stage. They only had a few wickets in hand (they were only seven down, but they didn’t start with a full compliment of players), but likewise, they didn’t need many more runs. Aspirin, who so far had played little part in the game, then underlined why I have such good instincts for cricket. I threw him the ball and he produced a stunning maiden. The batsman simply couldn’t put bat on ball. He bowled so slowly that the batsman got himself tied up in knots and kept missing it. There was quite a delay after the first few balls while we argued whether double and triple bouncers were allowed, but when I pointed out that their captain had happily hit one for six earlier on (combined with the fact that no-one had a rule book), the over continued.
Chasing 182 for the win, they were now 7 for 170. They only needed 12 runs to win, and whilst they had heaps of overs to go, it was clear to me that this next over would decide who won and who came second.