Perhaps, more than any other team sport, cricket is influenced by playing conditions, and perhaps, more than any other team sport, over the course of the game, the swing in those conditions can be the greatest. Warninglid vs The Mighty Greys 2020 was at the top end of the dynamic condition change spectrum. The other side of the equation is the venue and how it reacts to environmental changes, and here Warninglid is as idiosyncratic as they come. TMGs arrived to a wicket baked hard, uneven and with an unruly recent reputation, and aligned such that the sun sets behind the bowler’s arm in the final stages of late summer games. At contrary Warninglid, rain can temper the worst tendencies of the wicket, and sun can render batsmen sightless as they chase a total. Weather forecasts had been reliably inconsistent over all apps, changing at every instance they were checked.
In cricket, the order in which the game progresses is crucial and is decided by combination of a random, arbitrary event, the coin toss, and the call of the unfortunate skipper who “wins” said coin toss, and then must uphold a pretence that he can predict what order will best advantage his team. Some wilier captains are quite happy for their opposing number to make that call, and hence assume responsibility for events beyond their control. TMG’s skipper’s, new for 2020, system of toss calling, has come in for a certain amount of criticism in recent weeks, providing as it has, a straight run of wrong calls, but may make more sense in this light.
The format was 35 overs, TMG were put into bat, walking out in light rain, only to return 2 balls later in heavy rain, the score 4 for 0 after a Jerry had fended off a lifting ball with his glove to the boundary. There followed an hour or so of sheltering, rain radar tracking, and pitch rolling to achieve an acceptably reduced level of pitch-squelch. We were back under way by 3.30pm, the game now reduced to 25 overs a side and to be played on a pitch where a wet surface lifted to reveal a dusty base layer, but not the minefield it could have been.
The openers, Hatrick and Jerry, didn’t last too long, caught for 3 and 5 respectively, but Wig played beautifully at no.3, his 23 containing a PSM nominated clip through midwicket for 4. Roborbob performed his usual run machine role, scoring 41 in quick time before being bowled by a yorker. Biff and Clunk were dismissed for single figures, allowing Dom to come in and smash 56 off 30 balls, Alex to hit an impressive slog sweep, Terry to hit 7 off 4. The innings concluded on the penultimate ball, the skipper running out an unfortunate Dan trying to scramble an extra run.
There are no teas in Covid cricket, so after Dom had cleaned his bat with a leaf, it was quickly round for the TMG defend a target of 156 from a strong looking ‘Lid batting line-up. By this time the skies were clearing, a lovely summer’s late afternoon revealing itself, and the pitch coagulating to a surface gloop.
Union Dan struck first ball with a shortish delivery, the batsman, Dunning, providing his own commentary “I’ve hit it straight to him!”, the “m” of him coinciding with the ball nestling in Dom’s hands at cover. A similar fate befell the ‘Lid’s skipper, Reilly in his opposing number’s first over. This was the first in a spell that improved as it went on, culminating in a trade mark in-swinging yorker with his final ball, the 3rd wicket needed to bring up a 200 wicket lifetime Mighty Greys landmark, and PSM winning moment.
Conditions were coming to the Greys with the mud just the right consistency to coat the rough side of the ball but not soak the shiny side, which is polishing up beautifully as seems the way with the new batch of Newberys. Queue hooping swing and with some disciplined bowling, the required run rate was climbing. Union Dan conceded a miserly 11 from his 5 overs with 1 wicket.
Some good fielding also played its part with PSM nominations for the Shadow’s Messi-like footballing skills, Jerry’s stop, a “fab stop” from Wiggo (making up for dropping a dolly off Dan’s bowling earlier), and an excellent catch into the sun from Dom, his 3rd of 3 catches in the match.
Dom’s off spin was very difficult to get away and Terry deployed classic dogfighting tactics, by bowling out of the sun, making the ball all but undetectable to the batsmen. Hatrick picked up 2 late wickets and a very accomplished performance in the field left Warninglid some 50 runs short of their target.
A fine all-round performance with contributions throughout the team.
Both teams retired to the Half Moon for a BBQ that was enjoyed greatly by the meat eaters.