[first published May 2012]
After all the moaning, the cursing, the sheltering under the nearest rainproof canopy, there was finally the promise of some cricket. Top down, I sped through the East Sussex countryside ignoring the fact that it was still a little chilly. Through East Chailey, I slowed along with the car in front and spied the reason. Someone on the road, jacket over their head, two men standing above them. Four cars aligned around the area of the crash.
But it wasn’t a person. It was a roe deer. Its front legs slowly extending as if it were dreaming of gambolling through the heather. Its head was under a jacket, like I said. It wasn’t clear whether this was for the benefit of the deer or the people. Standing around not quite knowing what to do.
I drove on. As you do. I knew I was no more able to kill this animal, which is what was necessary, than anyone else. They waited for it to die. I drove on, hoping it would do so quickly.
Death is an occupational hazard for living things.
The game was full of minor issues which pale into insignificance next to the death of even a roe deer – though a deer is merely more touching because it can be hit by a car and still look unharmed as it expires. Rabbits turn into a furry lump. Unrecognisable. Even though we know they were once living things.
So. The game. We fielded first. I kept for 25 overs before deciding I was risking rather too much and so swapping with another team member. I kept tidily considering, though my ability to snaffle leg-side drifters was rather curtailed. I dropped one catch, a difficult edge standing up which I caught in the tips of my fingers before it popped out. For a first game, perhaps unsurprising.
We batted slowly. By the halfway point we were plainly not going to win, but with no wickets down, a draw looked the most likely outcome. And then, in the 38th over, Dougie runs himself out and at 92 for 4, I’m in. With 5 overs to bat to salvage the draw. With another lefty. Steve’s out in the next over, LBW to a ball that may have been scraping leg stump. But delivered over the wicket by a right-arm bowler. The slope on the wicket goes from leg to off for a lefty at the bowls club end. Steve 2 comes in, a little all at sea and we steal a run, as I’m guessing he’s not going to last long against Fergie, who’s relentlessly accurate. Steve 2 pats the next ball to midwicket. Oops. In the next over I’m hit on the back leg and adjudged LBW. To the same bowler. I can’t attest to where it pitched, but … then the bowling hero, Matt Standley is caught for nought, and Sam Aldiss bowled for nought. The last five wickets yielded just 3 runs (all scored by me). We lose the game in the final over.
Such things are occupational hazards for cricketers.
For all the bleating and moaning, and the annoyance at my scoring a paltry 3 runs, worse things happen in East Chailey.