Putting the toss in full toss

[Warning: this is another personal chunter about cricket, so if you do not care for the sport, you'd probably be best off not reading it.]

Though I've had my moments - five maidens and a wicket when opening for Ovington II last season springs to mind - I've never been what you'd call a reliable bowler. Last season I made local news for clonking an opposition batsman on the ear with a beamer.

Bodyline.

On Bank Holiday Monday, proving my home town allegiances, I turned out for the Braunstone Cricketers in a friendly game at Bishopthorpe. I'd done the same last year when they were also a man short, and I'd batted and bowled quite well.

Not this time.

After not being required to wield the willow in our total of 141-6, I was given the honour of opening the bowling.  I accepted the end that required me to bowl into the wind, and marked out my run-up.

It seemed a slowish wicket, so we'd decided that medium-paced deliveries on a good length would do the trick. There's no pleasure in bowling slow though, so I thought I'd err on the brisker side of medium.

Who wants to be a slow bowler?

First ball, in I ran, not sure what would happen. My run-up felt ok but I reached the crease and launched the ball somewhere at the batsman's midriff.  I was no-balled, he clipped it over the keeper, and when the fielder tried to return the ball, he managed to hit the wicket-keeper's helmet and incur five penalty runs. Not an auspicious beginning.

The next couple of deliveries weren't quite so full, but they still put the toss into full toss, so I tried to make sure the next ball was shorter. I ambled in and promptly pelted it into the ground a few feet in front of me. It bounced about 19 times before rolling through to the keeper.

This was painfully embarrassing, and no-one knew what to say. The only thing I could think to do was to try something spectacularly slow, and hope I could at least put the ball somewhere in the right half of the wicket. Even if the batsman hit it for four, I could feel that I'd made him play a shot.

So I tried exactly that, releasing the delivery at a speed that if described as sluggish would have offended a shell-less gastropod, and miraculously the ball was dead straight, on a good length. Even more miraculously, bamboozled by the complete absence of pace and the novelty of being required to do something, the young opener swung wildly early at it, missed it by a mile, and was bowled middle stump.  I did not celebrate.

Well bowled.

This success earned me a second over, and it was slightly better, though it started with me offering a buffet ball that was bashed to the boundary. The third over was much the same: a first-ball feebie, followed by five deliveries that were generally ok.

Bishopthorpe's batsmen were hardly quaking with fear, but then, somehow or other, with the no. 3 batsman looking nicely set, I managed to serve up a fourth over that actually made it look like I could bowl.

The first ball was despatched for four, but slightly fortuitously, and I then bowled two good quicker off-cutters that the batsman had to defend solidly. I followed this with a slower ball that actually swung. It beat the batsman all ends up and also bowled him middle stump. This time I did celebrate.

Sadly, it was not to last. My fifth over was erratic again, and I should have been taken off. But the Braunstone captain, Simon, showed pity when he should have showed me the pavilion, and allowed me a sixth.

I can't even remember what happened, other than that there was another no-ball beamer, a load more full tosh, and it went for about 15.  I took my hat and jumper from the umpire, slunk off to the boundary, and stayed there.

As with my batting and fielding previously, I try not to stay in a funk. It's only a game and it means nothing in the grand scheme of things. It would be nice to be able to do something well on the field of play though.

I was due to play an evening league game tonight, and was concerned I'd be asked to bowl. Thankfully, I won't have to, as the game has been called off due to rain. My ignominies are deferred.

But what next? What if I've forgotten how to bowl? What if I've got some club-level version of the yips?

I can't spend the season being like this. The only solution I can think of is to go to lots of nets and just bowl and bowl and bowl (ideally without a batsman present) and see if some semblance of rhythm comes back.

Fingers crossed.

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