09 September 2014


It took me two years in the UK to get to a cricket ground and watch a game. And now, three years after that, I found myself right in the middle of the action! The School of Ocean Science has a cricket team, largely composed of confused foreigners that had never played before they joined. It is captained by my office mate, so it would be easy to join. But I didn't. I figured that leaving work early and getting to bed late once a week was often enough. And going underground has priority! So after several months of Wales I still had never held a bat. But one day, the time had come to change that.

There is an ancient tradition within the School to have, once a year, a cricket match between Marine Biology and The Rest Of The World. Does that sound skewed? It is in an unusual way. The world here should be read as the school, and within the school, the MB bunch dominate. So they tend to win! And this year I thought I'd join, for some half of the game, as it had been unfortuitously been scheduled on a Thursday. And as said, going underground has priority!

I was the first there. It was a bright summer day! This was going to get tropical. Soon others arrived, with a bag of kit, and a barbecue, and several dogs, and whatnot. And several of us seized the opportunity to practice a bit. As said, I had never held a bat! Nor bowled, with that funny outstretched arm. But it was more fun than expected! And then the game started.

It is a seriously competitive games. Both captains took this very seriously! And the best batsmen were used first. Just as the other team deployed their best bowlers first. So it started rather professional! But it wouldn't last; both teams had scores of members that had never played before. And when my office mate was bowled out it was my turn.

 Alex and Martin, our best batsmen, and by sheer coincidence (or is it?) both former Plymothians...

"Don't look so fanatic!" was what the enemy captain told me. I ignored it. But looking fanatic didn't help! The first ball I let go; it went behind me. I had played rounders in secondary school; if a ball is wide you don't move, and then it doesn't count. But this was cricket! I should have hit it. Oh dear.

Me having padded up for my turn to bat!

I then tried to hit anything. With no success! When I finally hit something it wasn't a good hit. I decided to run anyway. Might just as well go all the way! But it was an unwise choice. I was bowled out. So much for my attempts.

I then changed my attention to the barbecue. I had brought dates in bacon, and mushrooms with blue cheese! These were gratefully received by the crowds. And my office mate put a burger on the griddle for me. But we were about to start again! Oh dear.

 Action shot

Wicket repair...

A friendly PhD student offered to look after my burger while I took my place in the field. But no balls came my way. And soon the referee noticed we were with one person too many. I knew I could only stay in the field for some 30 minutes more, before I would have to go home to go to a mine from there. So I volunteered to leave.

I now had the chance to eat my hamburger. The enemy captain accused me of teasing the dogs. Maybe he was right. I took a few more pictures, and left. A slightly underwhelming first cricket match, but maybe I should sometimes join the local team. I'm not so keen on the waiting around, but whacking things and running around is fun! And then maybe I'll do better in the fateful match next year...

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