I gradually built up speed as I ran into the wicket. My rhythm felt good and I could see that the batsman was concerned. I rocked back to release, my right foot landed but instead of gripping, it skidded like an ice-skate. I hit the ground with a massive thump. My right shoulder hit the pitch first, followed closely by my head and then legs. I lay somewhat stunned, trying to work out what the hell had happened. Prof. pointed at my feet and started laughing, and then the rest of the bastards joined in. At the change of innings, I put my bowling shoes on through force of habit. Unfortunately, my trusty old spikes weren’t necessarily the best option for bowling on a concrete pitch. I got up with as much dignity as I could, and quickly ran back to the car and changed into rubbers.
The second time round, I was a bit ginger in my approach. Rather than trying anything too optimistic, I decided to simply try and put the ball on a good line and length. The ball left my hand reasonably well, pitched just outside off-stump and swung away gently. The batsman, with an agricultural heave that would have made Jesse James happy, somehow managed to slog the ball over mid-wicket. It took a while for them to get the ball back, as it sailed about 20 metres over the boundary markers (damn! I forgot to move them after we finished batting) and ran for miles. A hit like that can dampen anyone’s spirits, but I consoled myself by remembering that a fluke can happen to anyone. My second ball was an attempted yorker, a fair bit quicker and it swung away late. The batsman somehow managed to hit it at the last minute. I overheard a bit of quiet sniggering amongst my team-mates as the fielders went to retrieve the ball from approximately the same resting place as the first delivery, and as the umpire signaled a second six, I decided a change of tactics was in order.
I put a lot more effort into the third delivery. I had decided to bowl an inswinger instead, and I pitched it a little shorter. It rose beautifully, and as he heaved his bat at it, the ball swung in and hit him squarely in the box. With an almost soundless squeal, the batsman face-planted straight into the wicket, with both hands clutching his groin. We were all laughing hysterically (as you do), when we noticed a pool of blood. Turns out that the batsman had broken his nose when his face hit the concrete. This prompted fresh peals of laughter from us all. The square leg umpire helped the batsman up, and he managed to hobble off somehow holding both his groin and his nose simultaneously.
The next batsman worried me. I hadn’t noticed him in the field while we batted, and it turns out that he was a last minute ring-in during the tea break. Dressed immaculately all in white (Gray Nick. pants), a heavy duty looking BAS Vampire bat (with tape around the bottom and near the sweet spot), matching BAS pads and gloves, and an old blue/purple cap with a crossed bats logo. Either this guy could actually play, or he was a poser. The umpire called out “Good to see you again Dodge”. We’ll see if he can play or not.