The season is underway!
By Richard Zotov
U11Bs lose out to a well-drilled Spencer team
The season of many games got underway with a low-scoring encounter against Spencer's very well-drilled and -led under 12 girls team.
On a warm-enough late spring day, the boys received a lesson in teamwork and discipline from their opponents, but also managed to show glimpses of class.
Richmond batted first under watery sunshine, and managed just 64 from their 20 overs. Spencer's discipline in terms of line and length, when combined with some rusty running and calling between the boys, meant that Richmond never really looked like getting out of first gear. More time in the middle and a greater familiarity with each other will mean that these disciplines improve as April turns to May. The boys did do a good job of protecting their wickets, with only 3 being lost all innings, and a series of retirements allowed all but the team's number 11 to swing the willow. Karan anchored the innings and played a nicely steady hand while partners came and went at the other end, with Henry, Magnus and Osian all occupying the crease and getting some invaluable time in the middle. Rohan came and went in his usual positive manner, and Neil provided some real late-middle-order class to proceedings, including one immaculate cover drive. Just two boundaries all innings testified to a slight lack of "clout" amongst the boys, and tiger-ish fielding (and excellent chirping throughout the innings) meant that the fielding team (superbly led, and with a high-quality keeper) kept the pressure on throughout. Here was an object lesson in a team whose members all knew their roles and each supported the other, whether things were going according to plan, or not. Amongst an attack of largely "samey" right-arm-over medium pacers lurked the delightful sight of a leg break bowler who had a sufficiently developed action to turn the ball on astro-turf – one of the highlights of the day.
At innings break, the feeling was that, unless Richmond could get off to a high-octane start, the match would run away from them fast. And a fast start is exactly what they got, with the scoreboard reading 13 for 3 after 7 overs. Grayson, Ned, Neil and Magnus kept things very tight in that opening spell, and Jack was on a hat-trick, having had the dangerous keeper-opener well caught by Ned at mid-off before bowling the number 3 the following ball (a rather unwelcome reminder of the fact that, at this level, out means out). With an efficient run-out of the Spencer number 4, the boys could suddenly sniff a result, and when Karan bowled the number 5 with a nice in-ducker, it looked on. But the Spencer skipper finally found a partner who could hang around, and as the target dropped, the mis-fields and the extras mounted up, and the relatively small total that the boys had put up was put into its proper perspective. Eventually, Spencer got home by 5 wickets with a few overs spare.
Defeat was no disgrace against this very polished outfit, who were greater than the sum of their parts, largely owing to excellent fielding, captaincy, calling and running, and (most importantly of all) communication. Those boys who observed (whether while at the crease, or while spectating) the manner in which the Spencer girls conducted themselves, will hopefully have taken lessons away about the most fundamental of all the lessons that there are in cricket – to concentrate on every ball (whether bowling, batting, or fielding), to ensure that someone runs up to the stumps for every bit of fielding and that there is someone backing that player up, to encourage at all times one's fellow players and to respect at all times one's opponents, and to consider, taking into account all that is happening in a match, what the best distribution of a team's 9 outfielders are. The boys displayed some of these virtues during the match, but their opponents displayed them more, and more consistently, and that was ultimately the difference between the sides.