It had been a week of crushing victories, humiliating defeats and the dawning of a new era of leadership. But enough about the general election – we had a cricket season to crack on with.
Arriving for our first league clash of the new campaign we were full of the kind of optimism which only comes from nine months of collective amnesia. Gathering around the newly-cut strip, sunshine beating down, banter flying every which way, there was an unmistakeable sense of optimism.
Within half an hour we were 20-5 and it was getting cold. I know that feeling, I thought as I rummaged in my bag for a third sweater. Welcome back, old friend.
After St Austell’s opening bowlers had delivered a miserly 14 consecutive overs, Ryan decided to take matters into his own hands by launching their first change for a succession of massive sixes, the third of which landed in one of the football goals dotted around the boundary. Our suggestion that we should be awarded a 20 bonus runs got short shrift.
Sometime first-teamer JP turned up to watch, two-year-old son in tow, and was quickly roped into making up the numbers. He got in and got out, and then so did I, playing all round a straight one. 60 all out in 25 overs, we went straight back out to field as it was too early for tea.
By the time the sandwiches and cakes arrived the visitors had moved serenely to within touching distance of victory. Wicketkeeper Paul serenaded a maudlin dressing room with a rendition of Jeff Beck’s ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’.
As nominated vice-captain for the day, Steve asked me what I thought we should do. Scooping up another handful of PJ’s delicious tuna and red onion sandwiches – assembled with a delicacy one would not normally associate with a middle order biffer whose shot repertoire is limited to the leg side hoik – I stuffed my face and scuttled away.
We trudged back out to the middle, condemned men bracing for one final spell in the torture chamber before the sweet release of the firing squad. Bill came over all Sun-Tzu: “I’ve been reading this book, it’s all about taking positive mental attitude to the game,” he said. “It’s really helped me.” I considered asking how exactly it was helping him deal with being dismissed LBW for one, but thought better of it.
As the fat lady was unwrapping the Soothers and plugging in her microphone, Steve threw me the ball. Four to win – what’s the worst that could happen?
My first delivery barely made it to the other end, bouncing twice and allowing the batsman to change his shot eleven times before spooning it up to Ryan at mid-on. I turned to skulk back to my mark, expecting a no-ball to be called, but the umpire was unmoved and I had my first league wicket of the season. “They all go down in the book”, I laughed to Alan. “Well they shouldn’t”, he scowled, a stickler for the rules.
Back in the shed, Steve did what all good leaders do and attempted to spin his way out of trouble. “We may have lost, but we showed some good spirit out there and it’s important to take the positives”, he said.
Paul piped up from the corner: “You’re not a Lib Dem voter are you?”