Sunday, 18 August 2013

How to be a club tailender

Insist that your proper place is at number eleven. Get into half-jokey, half-serious arguments with team-mates about getting to bat there.

Sit down and busy yourself umpiring, scoring or changing the scoreboard if you're rubbish at all those jobs too.

See a few wickets go down. Assume that they'll recover and won't need you. Have a bowl just off the outfield or wander around the pavilion.

Return to find four or five wickets down, early. Sit down and nervously flick a ball from hand to hand.

See the seventh wicket go down, know that's the cue for you to pad up. Go to your kitbag and pull out your nice new pads, gloves you've had since you were twelve, box you've had since you were twelve (maybe I should get a new one, just for self-respect)

Wander out, trying to look casual, shitting yourself inside. After one more wicket goes down, have the moment when briefly you feel like you want to have a bat.

Borrow someone else's bat, since yours was one you found in the attic, and seems to be from the 1940s. Laugh along with the toothpick jokes.

Psyche yourself up by thinking about your best innings. That two squirted through gully in a charity match where you ludicrously found yourself batting at six, since about five of the players hadn't played the game before.

Try not to think about that fact you yorked yourself and missed a straight ball soon after. Try not to think about the time you went to pad up, got out of the pavilion to find your services immediately needed, walked out to the middle, was clean bowled first ball having forgotten to take guard, and returned to the pavilion, all within about a minute. Your first foray up to the dizzy heights of number nine.

Try not to think about the time you came in after a twelve year old, and he farmed the strike off you. Although, to be fair, you were unbeaten, and he got out.

See the stumps splayed, as the number nine gets out, and wander out to the middle, trying to look calm.

Walk up to your partner, and hope he has some good advice, "Just do your best, one ball left in the over" Oh, thanks, nothing on the pitch or the bowlers mate?

Wander down to the strikers end. Try to look professional. Take a middle stump guard, because you should take a guard, not for any tactical reason. Scratch your guard out and walk away and survey the field.

Settle into your stance as the bowler thunders in. Try not to let him know you're scared. Swish and miss at the first ball outside off stump, and thank god he didn't bowl straight.

Try to take a single the next over, and see the number ten try to keep you off strike. Get down to the strikers end against a leg-spinner. Swish and miss at a couple of turning balls, defend one or two successfully and swipe at the triple bouncer bowled off the cut strip.

See out the over, see your partner cut the seamer to gully, and try to seem disappointed that the team are all out. Actually, you are disappointed, despite only getting bat on ball twice in eight balls.

Start thinking about actually practicing, maybe moving up to seven or eight. Remember how bad you are, and look forward to bowling.

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