I don’t consider myself a sporty individual in the slightest; in fact I’m far from it. Despite my history of working in a sporting and a betting environment, I have never really been drawn towards any sport except cricket. Here in the UK, there are a number of sports which are considered to be major international sports, including football, cricket, rugby, tennis, snooker, golf and horse racing to name but a few. The sport of football is a very popular one in this country and throughout the year there are very often various competitions going at both national and international levels. At social gatherings, it is these competitions and matches which cause a buzz and dominate conversations.
Cricket on the other hand I feel does not create as much a buzz yet I have seen and experienced occasions when cricket has brought about a real electrical buzz too. The recent world cup for example saw large crowds of Asian supporters take to the streets to celebrate India’s victory. An exhilarating experience I must say.
So why cricket then? Well for me it’s a sophisticated sport, played with patience, strategic team work and technical sportsmanship. It’s a calm sport, but on occasions creates a buzz which is most electric than that of a football world cup. I find it very enjoyable to watch, no matter who’s playing and have done so from a young age. While the rest of my peers enjoyed cheering on their preferred football clubs, I chose to follow what was deemed the boring sport.
Nevertheless, I was not deterred and I became more interested in the sport as I grew older. Now I follow the sport at local, national and international levels with a keen interest in selected teams, players and championships. However, despite my avid interest I have never had the opportunity to watch a live match. Of course I’ve watched matches live on television but to see it actually being played live on the grounds was not something which I had had the privilege to experience until today.
I recently came to know that a friend of mine plays cricket with his local club and excited by this prospect, I said to him if that if it was at all possible, I’d love to come and watch him and his team play. Shit I thought! In my slight over enthusiasm, I realised I had self-invited myself without considering anything else! His reaction on the other hand was much better! He did say I was more than welcome, if I was brave enough to consider the travel distance. Not a problem, it was a nice opportunity plus I had the bonus of watching a friend play too! I thought it to be much better to attend a match supporting a particular team and a player than just merely being a spectator.
The journey to the match ground was not the shortest for me, but that wasn’t going to deter me and in fact it which was stress free and quicker than originally anticipated. Bonus! There was rain on my journey to the match which began to dampen my hopes of seeing a live match. Anyway, when I got to friends house to pick him up he informed me that despite the weather conditions the match was stilled scheduled to be played with only a slight delay. My friend of course was not impressed by the prospect of playing on wet ground. It will be challenging to play he said, the ball will be wet, it will be harder to score boundaries and bowling will be a nightmare! Nevertheless, we still left for the ground.
The ground was being inspected by the team captains as we arrived. All the while it was raining heavily and my friend gently informing me of the highly likely chance of the match being cancelled. If they don’t cancel it then it’s highly likely players are going to get the least amount of enjoyment, the ground is very damp. We can almost eradicated boundary scores and as a bowler I will constantly be cleaning the ball due to the damp ground. If we have to play then I’ll play but I won’t enjoy the match, he said. I could of course see his argument; wet ground really is difficult to play on, consuming all ounces of energy at the best of times. I on the other hand was wishing they would play even in the rain, what better condition to play in? Yes, a little crazy I realise that. But after seeing the ground and the severe weather conditions even I began to have some doubt on the likelihood of play. After a short while, even I commented that I hope they do cancel the match, the weather is really bad. Don’t worry, I said, I’ll come again and watch you play another match. After a delay of approximately half an hour, players were asked to get changed for the match. The match was on. You got your wish my friend commented. I beamed a big smile.
While I waited for my friend to come from the changing rooms, I observed the ground. The pitch area was covered to protect it from the rain but the fielding area was exposed to the rain. Furthermore, the grass was much thicker than required which added to the difficulty of hitting boundaries but assisted in stopping them too.
The match was brilliant! My friends team (Team 1) was the away team who won the toss and elected to field first, grabbing the unique opportunity to use the adverse weather conditions to keep the oppositions run score as low as possible. Wise decision team 1! The captains of both teams agree on an 80 over match purely due to the unpredictable weather conditions. My friend was the opening bowler and team 2 posted a total of 101-9 from 41 overs thanks to some very talented batsmen in the tough ground conditions. My friend’s bowler figures were commendable with him bowling 8 overs, 30 runs, 1 maiden over, 1 wicket and 2 catches! I recall one of the dismissed batsmen commented on his way back to the changing room that your friend bowls very well, I must say I’m impressed. I thanked him and allowed him on his way. The final score for team 2 was 101-9 in 41 overs.
During recess, my friend commented that the oppositions score shouldn’t be too difficult to reach but I really hope rain does not disrupt play. I was wishing the same too as the first half of the match had been a pleasure to watch and disrupted play would most certainly have been a disappointment. Thankfully, it remained dry.
My friend was 8th in the batting line up. I hope you have the opportunity to bat I said. My friend laughed and said, I hope not; as it would it would imply that our teams batting skills and level of competency was somewhat questionable compared to that of the other teams. Point I thought. Anyway, we sat discussing the game while the first pair in the batting line up began the match. Team 1 looked in trouble at one point with 4 wickets down at a low score; this was beginning to be a nail-biting second half. My friend then went to do some umpiring while I went back to my car and continued to take some photographs. It was starting to become cooler as the afternoon continued. I watched as the wickets fell and felt a little uneasy. Once my friend had completed his time as umpire, he came and watched the match with me albeit in a somewhat sombre state. I really hope we win; it’s actually a lot tougher out there than I first thought. The grass is wet plus it hasn’t been mowed therefore, the ball isn’t reaching the boundary, resulting in the batsmen being forced to run more frequently than usual in order to remain a head of the game. And to add to the difficulty, we are losing wickets too; he remarked after a while. I certainly understood his anxiety. Plus, he said, I’d like to win because it’s your first ever live match and I don’t want you to go away disappointed. I smiled, it wouldn’t make much difference to me anyway, and I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to see a live match plus see a friend play too. If the team wins that will be my bonus, just play your best, I know how good the team is, I have seen how well you play, and I don’t need to see a win to work that out. It’s a game, you win some, and you lose some.
We went back to the bench as the wickets continued to fall. The end appeared bleak. The last two batsmen were my friend and his team-mate and they played exceptionally well, building a steady partnership to reach the end result. In the end my friend scored 9 runs in 11 bowls which led to the team winning the match. The final result was team 1 was 102-8 in 36.3 over and as the pair walked back to the changing rooms there was a standing ovation. A moment of joy and pride for me, I was truly happy for my friend and his team. On our short walk back to the car I said to my friend, you got your wish then and we both laughed!!
The final score was:
Team 1 (away team): 102/8 in 36.3 overs.
Team 2 (home team): 101/9 in 41 overs.
My friends score:
Bowling: 8 overs, 30 runs, 1 maiden, 1 wicket, 2 catches.
Batting: 9 runs in 11 bowls
A wonderful match to watch, one which I know I won’t ever forget. Well done my friend and well done team, a truly well-deserved win!!