Bowling May 31, 2010

Sunny day, stunning ground, steak pies

Could it get any better

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.