The build-up to this week’s Coventry Indoor League fixture began like many before it – with a frantic search for players. With reading week to contend with, skipper Hobbs was relying heavily on the (late) publication of this year’s UWMCC squad list for some inspiration, eventually finding debutants Joe Live Sexy (thanks Cooper) and Jake Sittampalam (dun-duun-da-da-da) to join driving all-rounder Davis, average batsman Dan Goodyear and spinner JP.
Of course, no journey to the Connexion is ever easy, and after JP showed up ten minutes late, we made our way via a new route, courtesy of the long-overdue roundabout by the arts centre. The jury is still out on whether or not this was a mistake, as we were only 5 minutes late to battle with Marton CC, and as we well know, being late to this league doesn’t mean much when the umpires fail to read the rules, let alone the start time. After a hasty toss, Hobbs’ confidence that he could do better than last week’s skipper Jewson was shown as he requested to bat first, fully aware that this option was worse for our chances of winning but better for giving everyone a game.
As soon as Goodyear and Jake strolled out to bat, we discovered the first of many rule changes this week,that the ball is (seriously) allowed to hit the roof mid-delivery and still be called legal. Strike one for the umpire. After several of these skyscrapers in the first over started to become an effective bowling method, the UWMCC skipper took it upon himself to complain. Despite some protests from what must have been the quietest, blindest, deafest and stupidest umpire the game has ever seen, eventually he got the message that we weren’t happy and agreed to retrospectively call the deliveries no-balls. Even the skipper from another game weighed in with his opinion – ‘we had him last week, he thought he was umpiring a hockey game’.
Once the opening bowled switched from his loopy spin to bowling seam-up, the game got underway properly, with a nice drive for four for fours forefront man Jake, and some nice strokes for ‘three’ from Goodyear. Both batsmen worked well together, and by the end of the fourth over Goodyear had reached 25 and retired.
New man Livesey came in and started where our keeper had left off, only more enthusiastically, running his first single and sliding in, only to hit the back wall in stunning fashion. Picking himself up and dusting himself off, Joe continued to run ‘threes’ until Jake was on 24. There are many things to do when one run away from a milestone. Nurdle a quick single. Smash it back over the bowler’s head in style. Dig out a yorker, wait or the keeper to pick it up, and then attempt a single. Unfortunately for Jake, he picked the third, wrong option, and found himself walking back the rest of the team muttering ‘headsgone’ over and over again.
Indoor league titan Andy Davis ducked his way into the arena next, and with just three and a half overs to go he knew exactly what to do. Sweeps, reverse sweeps and magnificent dexterity were the order of the day, and by the time the end of the innings came round, we found ourselves 89-1, an impressive total when considering the bombshell that was dropped upon us next.
When questioning the umpire after the innings, skipper Hobbs discovered the second of this week’s new rules – if a run between the wickets was completed, this week it would override any points for hitting the walls, rather than add to them. Many of our threes had now been called as twos, and even worse one of our six-wides was given as a two. Really? Strike two.
With the umpire clearly not on our side, the instruction from the skipper was should have been to earn the wickets ourselves, but instead came to ‘win’. Our customary ‘watch JP warm up’ was interrupted by a surprisingly quick turnaround, and with ball in hand Andy Davis set us off with a cracker of a first over, only conceding one run, despite the umpire’s best efforts to tell us otherwise. Up next, skipper Hobbs could not continue with such high standards, bowling a loose first over which was dispatched for a massive 5.
Two overs later, no breakthrough had been made however, and the opposition sat on an impressive 39-0. Upon inquiry as to where exactly the runs came from, apparently it was ‘all those no balls you’ve been bowling’. The umpire had failed to indicate in any way that Hobbs had overstepped no fewer than three times and Davis twice. Strike three. Hobbs laid into the umpire, asking less-than-politely if the man had ever heard of cricket before the match, and if the rules were explained to him in Greek, and then completed his over with a wicket as if to prove the man wrong.
JP was up next, and his tried-and-tested legspin was too much for the opposition, picking up a wicket in his first over and then another in his second. A sharp runout from Goodyear later, and ‘Martin’ found themselves at 50-4, almost unwinnable as their customary old man came out to join their remaining opener. Halfway through Jake’s only over, the old guy requested a runner, not because he was injured but because he was slow. Because he didn’t know what to do, the match jester (umpire) allowed it without consulting the UWMCC, adding to the anger skipper Hobbs was already feeling.
JP’s final over brought sharp three to see the older man back on strike, and it was evident from the outset that the testing legspin was troubling to him. After a back-foot defensive stroke missed completely, the batsman’s confused face led to the first piece of sledging of the year – with Hobbs informing the batsman ‘He’s bowling spin mate’.
When the final man eventually got clean bowled, there were only six balls left for Marton CC to score 33 runs, so the pressure was very much off the UWMCC. This was evident from the first ball of the over, with the skipper putting down a tricky yet very much catchable stroke off two walls. The next ball, Davis was in despair when JP dropped an absolute dolly to his left, an easy full stretch one-handed dive completely missing the ball and allowing the single off the side wall. Finally, the third ball of the over saw the final wicket fall, a second sharp stumping from Goodyear and the crowd went wild.
With thanks given and hands shaken, we finally made our way back, victorious, to campus, pondering whether or not to fill up the Warwick Sport vehicle because ‘nobody else ever does anyway’. Despite much protest, it was decided that since the club before us hadn’t, it would be really obvious if we didn’t either, so while captain Hobbs went off to pay, driver Davis checked the log-book only to find that the offending previous driver was booked under the name of ‘Jonny Bradshaw’ for BUCS indoor.