Yeah!!! We flipping murdered them!
My first game back started with a bit of a whimper. I turned up at the ground two hours early (which is my standard practice) in order to prepare my mind for the match ahead. I sat in the middle of the wicket with my eyes closed, mentally running through my batting plan. Sadly, I was interrupted a few times by a couple of cows that were wandering past, but I think it was worth it. Any attempt to assess the pitch was quite useless – concrete doesn’t really change too much over time. There was an interesting crack just short of a good length that I took good notice of though.
With only twenty minutes to go before the start of the game, I was starting to get worried as no-one else from my team had shown up. In fact, no-one else at all had shown up. I wondered if I was at the wrong ground, but a quick phone call to the President reassured me. He did ask that I didn’t ring again though, as he was evidently umpiring at the time and the bowler got quite a shock when he answered his mobile just as the quickie entered his delivery stride. He should make a full recovery from all accounts.
At the nominated starting time of 1.00pm, a beat-up Landcruiser ute sped in, sending dust and rocks flying in all directions. The opposition had arrived. My counterpart, a kangaroo shooter with the unlikely name of Paul Keeting came over and introduced himself. He had obviously just come from work, as the ute had a couple of dead roos still hanging in the tray. I hate buggers that break every bone in your hand when you shake with them. I smiled, but mentally put him down for a couple of bouncers (or failing that, an ‘accidental’ Sreesanath or two) later in the day.
Within 30 minutes of the supposed start time, both teams were mostly there. We had seven players, and they had nine. This meant that we got to bat first, as the accepted rule in fifth grade is that the team with fewest players gets to bat in the hope that more will show up. The stumps were banged in (with the face of the bat by some moron), and we were nearly ready to get play underway.
I took the team (or what there was of it) aside for a quick tactics discussion. All fifth grade games are one-dayers, with each side receiving 40 overs. I feel that if we get our gameplan right, we could easily take out the trophy this year. However, I felt I may have got too technical, and a number of the team appeared to lose interest as I described the mathematical basis to the Duckworth-Lewis system.
I decided the batting order in the usual fifth grade manner – whoever had the gear got to go in first. I still had my “Classic Bat Company” kit from when I was sponsored by them (wonder if they are still around, must look them up on the 'net), but the rest of the team had little equipment. I ended up opening the batting with ‘Spotty’ – a teenager with an inordinate number of zits. He did, however, have his own bat and pads. Most of the team looked amazed as I put on my thighpad. Spotty didn’t use gloves, and I didn’t even ask about a box. We were ready for battle, and together we strode out.