It s a day short of a month since I last blogged. I had written a piece to finish off the Sri Lanka tour the day after I got back to the UK and somehow lost 700 words into the ether. It frustrated me, a lot, to the point where I just couldn t be bothered writing. It was a strange response really, especially as I have enjoyed writing the blogs even when I ve been tired, sore and after we ve been defeated.
I m back blogging and will aim to get a couple out a week, albeit smaller pieces as I m not playing cricket for a while. It s break time. It s time for some time off bowling; no more warm ups for a while. I say warm ups because you ll find that warm ups are the part of the day that most cricketers dislike the most. Towards the end of the season, it is often counted down not in playing days but by warm ups remaining. I ll let you in on another secret; we actually don t mind the rain, and some guys are actually different people because of it.
It s been nine days since I last bowled, a Championship match, played vs Kent in Canterbury, and I ve enjoyed every day of it. This was my last game for Leicestershire this season; there was still one more Championship match and a Pro40 left. In the original plan with Leicestershire County Cricket Club (LCCC) I wasn t supposed to be playing after the Sri Lankan tour. Between us we sorted out a two-week extension that took in two Champo s and two Pro40 s. I had already booked a week s holiday with my wife, which took in the last couple of matches and thought it best if I keep those dates for our holiday rather than another week with Leicestershire.
In my last match I didn t bother the scorers much, at all. Made a duck and then wheeled through 21 overs without a wicket. I actually bowled really well and was especially happy to finish a long season with that kind of pace and consistency. I just didn t take any wickets; there was a dropped catch, but they happen. We finished that match with a draw, a pretty good result from the position we got ourselves in.
I should touch on the SL tour and how that finished. I left the night the Test finished, a group of five of us, Test only players for this tour and headed off at 10pm. After a couple of beers in the bar, a meal and then a quick pack it was off back to England for me.
We lost the second Test, but you already know that, but we put up more of a fight than maybe some would have predicted. It was improbable that we d successfully chase down what SL left us and the only real way forward was the draw. And that was especially the thought going into the last day; can we survive the day with just four wickets in hand? We did better than we thought, so well in fact that, even in my head, and that can be a pretty dark place, I could maybe even see us reach the nearly 500 target we were set.
I was batting with Dan (Vettori) and a number flashed up on the big screen -144. Don t ask me why, but I know that s a square number (12*12) and it sort of come to me that between Dan and I, however silly it might sound, we could put together 12 little partnerships of 12; I d get a couple of singles, maybe a boundary here and there (probably an edge, but who cares) and Dan would contribute more frequently and substantially. We had maybe put on 30 at the time and it was something that I tried to keep going in my head. The only problem was that my scoring had dried up. I didn t have a clue on how to score off Rangana Herath. I could keep him out, defend and defend, but to score off him, for me safely, was near on impossible; so I just kept keeping him out, Dan ll have to score a double-ton to win it!
In our partnership of 69 I scored off 75 balls in 77 minutes. This was easily my best innings. Not my highest score but it was what I had been trying to do for a long time. I had a batting target to face 50 balls; I knew if I got to 50 balls the partnership would be at least 50 and the time batted can only be good for the team, no matter how many runs I score, or don t score! This target I have mentioned in previous blogs but not quite revelled. It s not really anything big but just a target I ve been trying to reach. And I got there.
My innings wasn t quite without controversy though. Here s an excerpt of my dismissal in Cricinfo:
104.5 - Herath to O'Brien, no run, lunges forward to defend and the ball appears to land just before silly point fielder Paranavitana who takes it and appeals for a catch ... umpires confer .. Sanga has a chat with the umpires who go upstairs .. and verdict is not out ... ... replays suggested it bounced clearly ...
Paranavitana appealed and no one else around him even moved. [Kumar] Sangakkara who had as good a view as me, Dilshan (at slip) the same view too. No one else went up; Paranavitana appealed again, and again. Throwing the ball up and continuing on. I got pretty angry at him; I said a few words towards him suggesting that he shouldn t appeal. He actually copped some abuse from me; I got proper stuck into him. The ball bounced about a foot in front of him, clearly and he continued on with the appeal. Sanga and Dilshan both asked me if it bounced and I said yeah, about a foot short . Umpires went upstairs and not out . I continued to chat to Paranavitana, as I said, I was angry about him appealing for something that was clearly not out.
And this was the reason why, when I got the faintest of edges on a ball from Herath, that I walked. Often I will look up at the umpire to see his finger go up; as there was an innings in the past when I walked for one I thought I nicked, but actually didn t; so, most of the time I leave it to the umpire. I walked because I had dished out so much chat to Paranavitana that it was only fair that I practice what I preach . I m not sure the finger would have been raised but I knew I had done the right thing. Ask me though if there were only 20 runs left what would I have I done... I don t know if I could answer that one!
I was gutted to be out, proud of how long I d been out there, proud to have put on a partnership of 69 with Dan, proud to have got Dan through to his 100 (not quite like what I did to Jesse Ryder in Hamilton vs India) but so damn disappointed to be walking off the park.
So here we are, a month on from that Test, and I m back in Matlock. I ll be here in the UK for another couple of weeks with one lovely week s holiday under my belt and two to go. Catch you soon...