Somewhere over the rainbow…

St Stephen 2nd XI (124-2) beat Menheniot-Looe (123-8) by eight wickets

A rainbow appeared over Fourgates this week as we were training in the nets. I considered what it might mean: a symbol of the sunshine and showers which have characterised the club’s unsettled season? An example of the assorted colours and shades which make up a successful team? Or maybe a sign that we should keep practising and hope to one day find that elusive pot of gold. Eventually I decided it was just a pretty rainbow and carried on bowling.

Bottom of the league St Stephen came to Looe on Saturday, looking to swap places with us as the season entered its final stretch. We batted first under thick cloud and got off to a slow start, Bill’s Boycott-esque 15 in 25 overs sending everyone to sleep and causing skipper Mike to hop around the boundary muttering his favourite phrase: “For God’s sake, hit the bloody thing!”

IMG_3666I’ve been working on my batting at nets thanks to Kiwi Phil, the first-team’s overseas player. He told me I need to stand on my guard, get in line and stay balanced. I felt comfortable as I went in at number six, but the wickets kept tumbling. Zac, Mike and Ian came and went and it looked like we might struggle to last the 40 overs. I enjoyed my knock of 10 and could feel the practice paying off, but played across a straight one looking to push things on.

We made it to 123 thanks an entertaining ninth-wicket partnership from veteran opening bowlers John and Phil, putting the rest of us to shame with some lusty blows and uncharacteristically sharp running. Half an hour later they were back in more familiar action, bowling the first 16 overs unchanged at St Stephen’s bible-themed opening pair of Kyle Prophet and Stan Job. They must have been feeling particularly holy as John recorded the remarkable figures of 8-6-2-0, conceding just two scoring shots in his entire spell. 

Dan made the breakthrough, Prophet offering up a divine gift by slapping one straight to me at extra cover. I juggled it and trapped it clumsily in my armpit, thankful that I had opted for an extra layer of clothing. We fielded well but the visitors were always comfortable, led by the evergreen Job. Stan has apparently been playing since the 1970s, one of these bonkers village stalwarts who has seen it all before. He always fields close in at silly mid-on, unperturbed by blows to the body, and drives opposition bowlers to distraction with his stubbornly effective batting. A quick, hostile spell from Ian was not enough to stall their progress and we slid to our 10th defeat of the season.

IMG_3671Regular readers will know I don’t take disappointment particularly well. This time my strategy was to go home, shut the curtains, drink half a bottle of cheap red wine and fall asleep in front of Match of the Day. The end of the season is looming on the horizon, but there is still time to finish with a flourish. We’ll be back in the nets again on Tuesday – who knows, we might see another rainbow. This time maybe I’ll follow it to the end and find a pot of gold. Or at least a solid forward defensive shot. 

Sam Blackledge

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