The problem came at the end of the first over.
We had a badged (qualified) umpire looking after the bowler’s end. The batting side provided someone to stand at square leg, and the coach wasn’t allowed on the field during playing time.
So, the end of the over. The umpire calls over and sets off for the other end. Keeper and slips pass him before he’s half way there. They’re in position by the time he gets to the other end, bowler’s ready to go. A quick gee up and we’re on again.
The square leg umpire hasn’t quite made it from square leg to the pitch. Everyone stands and waits while he laboriously makes his way out to square leg. He did that for every one of the fifty overs.
By the fourth or fifth the kids in the field were totally off the boil. Flat. Looking to bowl thirty-five in the session we didn’t get to thirty, and ended up chasing more than two hundred in an environment where 150 was generally a winning score. We ended up about thirty short as I reshuffled the batting order to try to get the win and avoid being relegated to the also rans.
That caused problems over the next two games as I tried to give all the kids a go and, simultaneously, keep three of them in contention for State selection. I was copping it from parents to the point where I went up to the State coach to see if there was anything in particular he wanted to see on the final day.
Yes, was the reply. He’d like to see these two kids at the top of the order. We won the toss and batted. One of the two opened, the other went in at Three. The opener (Steve Aitken, from Bowen) went cheaply, Three (Simon Page, on his third trip away, we’d initially selected him as a ten-year-old) got a ton, and ended up making the State side along with the all-rounder who’d batted Three in the run chase against the Darling Downs.
I ended up copping heaps from parents of kids who weren’t getting a bat while Pagey carted the bowling. What was I expected to do? The State coach wanted to see this kid bat at the top of he order, so he was going to be out there until someone from the selection panel said he’d seen enough.
And, when the State side was named that afternoon we’d finished either seventh or eighth, and ended up with two in the State side. Pretty good going for seventh or eighth, I’d have thought.
Just after the side was announced the Darling Downs coach came over to congratulate me on the two selections. They’d taken out the carnival in a hand canter and ended up with a commensurate number of selections. He also suggested we’d been the only side that had stretched them.