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Busy end to summer

Posted in ECB ACO

The month began with me playing my first game of cricket for two years. With my Rutland and District Cricket League (R&DCL) appointment cancelled, I decided to offer my services to two of my previous clubs who happened to be playing each other.

However, as soon as word got out that I might put in an appearance, I was roped in to play! Playing, as far as I'm concerned, means bowling and, sure enough, I was soon tossed ther ball.

My first ball eclipsed the famous Steve Harmison delivery for width but I eventually managed to bowl straight and even took a wicket - was my shoulder sore the next morning!

The serious business of umpiring soon beckoned again when, on my third visit of the season to the picturesque Ratcliffe College ground, Bedfordshire triumphed in an U13's ECB Trophy Match which survived three stoppages for rain.

It was then time for a few days off. Firstly, Angela and I travelled to deepest, darkest, Suffolk to visit friends who had moved there from the Midlands just before Easter, after which we set off for Oxford - having taken two of our grandchildren back in the spring - and enjoyed a couple of days of not doing very much apart from taking part in a Morse Walk which, I have to say, I found very interesting and enjoyable, despite the fact that I have rarely watched the programme mainly because, to me, the late John Thaw will always be Jack Regan of The Sweeney.

Back again to umpiring and a disciplined, unbeaten 95 by their accomplished opener helped Barnack overcome their near neighbours Stamford Town, in an eagerly awaited return derby match, despite claims by Stamford, in the local press, that they had the batting to thwart the much vaunted Barnack attack.

This win helped put pressure on the R&DCL's top two, Peterborough Town and Oundle.

A spell of five appointments in six days began with a local U11's semi-final - have you noticed how, at that age, the batsmen are continually checking their guard whilst batsmen, bowlers and even fielders fielders are seemingly obsessed by the number of balls left in the over? - which was followed by my second visit of the season to Narborough & Littlethorpe where, in a drawn game, the star of the show was the host's New Zealander who followed up a 'five for' with an elegant half century.

The captain of the visitors turned out to be the brother of two girls who were at school with my two daughters more than 20 years ago - it's a small world!. This was, however, a game that neither my colleague (a vastly experienced umpire) nor I, for one reason or another, enjoyed.

This sequence of games continued with a first visit of the season to nearby Medbourne, who have been languishing at the foot of Division 1 of the R&DCL all season. Once again they fielded a very young side and were no match for Barrnack, who sauntered to an eight wicket win inside three hours.

Two days later Derbyshire became the 14th county I have visited this season but Leics 60+ left empty-handed after being shot out for just 100 on a damp, slow and low wicket.

The following day found me at The Langtons Cricket Club - just a ten minute drive for me - for the annual fixture between the Leicestershire Gents and The Forty Club. In a keenly contested but sporting game, The Forty Club were unable to repeat last season's win.

Their cause was not helped by the fact that one of their players broke a finger whilst fielding and was, therefore, unable to bat.

A visit to Cosby, which is the ground where I had made my decision to retire from playing after a torrid afternoon, saw me witness the hosts, who desperately needed a win to help stave off the threat of relegation, settle for a 'winning draw'.

R&DCL action continued with a League/John Wilcox cup semi-final double-header. In a low-scoring game on a badly worn wicket it was, once again, Peterborough Town who prevailed as their captain guided them to a narrow victory.

The familiar setting of Lutterworth Cricket Club was the venue for my second Everards Leicestershire County Cricket League Premier Division Game. As with the first one at this level, rain delayed the start and a total of 36 overs was lost to the weather. Lutterworth were convincing winners in a competitive mid-table clash.

My last appointment of an interesting, enjoyable month featured an U13's final which, unfortunately, was predictably one-sided.

With the nights drawing in (a sure sign that Autumn is approaching), I have, as far as I know, just five appointments remaining with many issues still to be settled in the various leagues and competitions in which I am involved.