May 31, 2010

Bowling

Sunny day, stunning ground, steak pies

Rene Van Oorschot





Well, it looks like someone up there took note of my last blog. After my moan about all things meteorological last week, I was compensated with one of the most beautiful days for cricket I have ever had the good fortune of being involved in. Not merely content with the finest streak of weather seen in Scotland since the arid conditions of the Permian era (geological reference – it won’t happen again, I promise), we also happened to be playing at one of the most idyllic grounds in the country.

Rossie Priory Cricket Club is an absolutely stunning ground located several miles south of Dundee (thankfully the pestilent influence of which does not quite extend far beyond the actual city limits) along the hill slopes of the Rossie estate. It is one of the oldest cricket clubs in Scotland (established 1828) and presumably has not changed much since its formation. The showers for example, can only be accessed by navigating your way through a herd of sheep and associated faecal debris (if the match wasn’t enough, you will most certainly need a shower after that). They have to be turned on three weeks in advance with the help of several rain buckets, an assortment of levers and pulleys, a 19th-century generator and a deaf mule.

The only glitch in an otherwise perfect day came at the start of the match, when Buck, our Colossal Captain, lost the toss (his coin-tossing ability is about on par with his people skills) and we were put in to bat. Covers are non-existent (they are an eyesore for the lady of the Estate, whose Priory overlooks the ground), thus the wicket tends to be damp in the morning but hardens during the day as the aforementioned glorious solar warmth does its work.

Don’t misunderstand me; I was not in the least bit concerned about our team being put in on a day when batting second would be a distinct advantage. It will probably not surprise any regular readers that my distress was a little more focused around yours truly. I was genuinely worried about having to bowl after the inevitable over-indulgence in the delicious homemade Rossie Priory teas, which excel both in quality and quantity. I'm not the most athletic bowler at the best of times, and a stomach full of steak pies, sausage rolls and thick carrot cake will make that trundle in to the wicket seem less and less appealing.

It won’t be long before I start practising my offies in the nets. How I envy those lazy buggers with their lethargic demeanour, three-step run-ups, perspiration-free appearance, and above all, their buckets of wickets obtained through assorted long hops and full-tosses.

We managed to rack up 190-odd, the highest score on that wicket this season. I guess our batsmen probably did quite well, but they deserve no plaudits; they are still batsmen after all and, by definition, scum.

After a monumental tea, we took to the field in a lazy hot-summer-afternoon fashion. I bowled a few very casual overs before potential myocardial infarction (our keeper is a surgeon – a fact he likes to advertise) restricted me to fine leg and sweeper duties.

The best part of RPCC is that the nature of the slope of the pitch means that when standing at the lowest point of the ground, it is, in fact, impossible to see the wicket. By an off chance, my fielding position took me exactly to this point (I may have discreetly shuffled a good 20 yards to get there), which meant that I could daydream in private without being rudely disturbed by cricketing matters over the hill. (During the football World Cup final, Holland will find themselves a player short due to injuries and will select a fan at random to join their squad: me. I score the winning goal in the last minute of extra time against the Germans, and my name will be celebrated across the lowlands). Apparently we won the match. I am not sure how, as I was clearly preoccupied with more important matters.

That, for me, was the perfect cricket day: great tea, beautiful weather, stunning ground, minimal personal input, and a victory (listed in order of respective importance). There is, of course, the worry that my season has now peaked and that it will all be downhill from here on. Which is why it is the perfect time for me to go and do what any true, self-respecting cricketer would do: retire on a high and go to South Africa and watch the World Cup. Hopefully when I get back in a month’s time, I will have missed all the wet and miserable cricket matches that will inevitably follow such an ideal day to balance the Scottish scales of precipitation. Even if I am mistaken and I miss all the good days and come back in time for the rubbish, I won’t care. I will be in a permanent state of euphoric bliss having witnessed Robben, van Persie, Sneijder et al. lift that golden trophy.

Touch wood.

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Posted by Nought-for-Plenty on (September 16, 2010, 21:54 GMT)

Great article Rene. I was fortunate enough to be at this game and can vouch for both the weather and the teas. I'd taken the girlfriend along and we were invited in to help finish off what you had left behind - cheers for leaving us something.

Posted by Manjala Wijenayake-Angammana on (August 2, 2010, 11:02 GMT)

What a nice article. I love cricket. I am from Galle. Manjala

Posted by Alex on (June 9, 2010, 16:05 GMT)

Enjoy your stay in SA. Despite what all the papers (in particular the English tabloids) say - it really is a beautiful country. If you drop me a mail when you're in Joburg I'll even treat you to a coffee or beer.

I probably won't be wearing orange - even if I do think Robben and v.Persie are awesome. ;)

Posted by Nikki on (June 7, 2010, 17:08 GMT)

You might (hope not) need to refrase the rain bit in our blog, as when I went to SA in january to play cricket, it was the wettest january in 20 years (in Joburg), which wasn't particularly helpful for my developing of my cricket skills (but it did improve my drinking skills, after all what else does a guy do when it rains???).

Wishing u and our team best of luck in SA

Nikki

Posted by LAX on (June 6, 2010, 9:33 GMT)

sounds like an ideal day, lets hope we actually get this hot summer that everyone is talking about (and its not just over the few weeks that you are away supporting the Dutch!). A geological reference in your cricket blog...oh dear...its obviously getting to you! A few weeks off will do you good! well written dutchman!

Posted by Kym Beazleigh on (June 4, 2010, 5:21 GMT)

Give the bloke a rest.

A thoroughly insightful blog into the joys of club cricket in England. I played a high level of cricket in Australia before enjoying 7 full years in the UK and a couple of games in Scotland. The grounds at some of the clubs over there are superb - ok the club cricket standard is much lower but the atmosphere is second to none. The best cricketing years of my life bar none.

Keep the blogs coming champ.

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (June 3, 2010, 23:14 GMT)

@Graham Turner: There's always secret ingredients in these backwater places. Yours probably was piss in the guinness...

Posted by sunday man on (June 3, 2010, 15:42 GMT)

Ah, Beautiful. looks like a dream sunday fixture. Talking of tea last year we had a best tea so far! warm ham (or) roasted salmon (or) some veggie stuff which i didnt care. new potatoes dug that morning and garden fetch salad. home made chocolate brownie with custard Please beat this!

Posted by Graham Turner on (June 3, 2010, 12:20 GMT)

This brings to mind playing against the Railway Union CC in Dublin: after complimenting the home captain on the quality of the Guinness at the bar, he bought me 2 pints for tea ! I failed to trouble the scorer. Also matches at Wrington CC in N Somerset, whose teas were legendary, especially the sultana buns. Happy days.

Posted by Duck on (June 3, 2010, 9:36 GMT)

You obviously have not played at the beauty of nature that is Sheddocksley recently, right up there in terms of stunning grounds.

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