That I won my club’s most improved player trophy last summer for averaging 15.17 in Division Twelve West of the Hertfordshire League says a lot about my cricket. I am a keen amateur – always one of the first at nets and desperate for a game – but despite my Mum’s investment in one-to-one coaching when I was younger I have always remained distinctly village and not just because the club I play for is called Shenley Village.
So it was with some trepidation that I accepted an invitation from Fletch, Middlesex’s larger than life press officer, to have a net at Lord’s against the Middlesex bowling attack – the Middlesex bowling attack that I’d criticised for being too one-paced last season. The idea had first surfaced over a possibly ill-advised post-match beer at the back end of last season that to be quite honest I’d rather hoped had been forgotten. It hadn’t been and ultimately the opportunity to have a bat at the Home of Cricket outweighed the fear that I could have spent the afternoon having a broken arm attended to in the Wellington Hospital rather than interviewing Nick Compton.
I narrowly avoided having to take guard against Steven Finn who saved himself for All Out Cricket’s Vithushan Ehantharajah but I did get the opportunity to face up to three of Middlesex’s younger quicks – Harry Podmore, George Scott and Arthur Godsal – as well as members of the Middlesex women’s squad. You can see how I got on below.
Personally I thought I acquitted myself reasonably well. By backing away outside off-stump (*ahem – giving myself room*) I managed to connect with a few swishes. At least half of them would have been caught at point but, who knows, they might have been dropped – on Middlesex’s recent form there is every chance they would have been. There’s even a swivel hook and a straight drive in the package. However, England selector Angus Fraser who you can see looking on in the background doesn’t look likely to recommend me, or any of my colleagues for that matter, for the Ashes.
“There were some interesting batsmen”, Fraser said. “I don’t think we’ll see them again. There were some shots I’ve not seen for a while”.
My hopes of a professional career might have been dashed but I’m glad I gave it a go. Hopefully it will help build some mutual respect with the Middlesex squad ahead of the coming season. And at the end of the day I’ll always be able to say I’ve batted at Lord’s. Not many fourth XI cricketers can do that.