The Third XI captain (Sundays) of my old club side was called Dave. He was a large man in his forties without pretention. He loved beer, cricket and Brighton and Hove Albion FC.
He called himself a batsman, but his real talent was his 'occasional bowling', which caused chaos.
As Sussex professional Robin Martin-Jenkins knows, the occasional bowler in club cricket is someone to be feared by batsmen, not ashamed of by captains. Especially if they have the uncanny knack of bowling bad balls that are straight:
"But what was most interesting to me was how hard most of us found it when faced with this sort of opponent. I was bowled twice by balls that nearly bounced twice, for example…
"I wonder, with that in mind, if there is more of a place for part-time bowlers in first-class cricket. Particularly when the wicket is flat and the game looks like it’s going nowhere."
What would Michael Vaughan have given for Dave on the last day of the 1st Test against South Africa?
Take pride in occasional bowling
Dave was the perfect bowler for making things happen in any situation. He could in equal measures (and almost randomly):
- Take wickets
- Tie batsmen down
- Get smashed to all four corners
If you needed a bowler to break a partnership or give a team enough rope to hang themselves, Dave was your man. He could bowl on sticky dogs, flat tracks, dusty bowls and seamers green tops with equal success.
He could even clean up the tail. They just couldn’t resist having a swipe at his easy bowling. Usually straight up in the air.
How did he perform these miracles?
Dave was a slow bowler, not a spinner. He bowled off 2 paces allowing him to bowl long spells despite his girth, retiring to gulley or slip between overs. He lobbed the ball onto the spot at about 35mph (56kph) for ball after ball. His line was always immaculate and when he did stray in length his philosophy was: You miss, I hit.
He failed as often as he succeeded. There was no pattern to it, but the days it worked were celebrated with jugs of ale deep into the night.
The point is, he made things happen. He was never satisfied with a boring draw.
Dave showed us all that occasional bowling is nothing to be ashamed of.
Captain’s the world over should turn to their own Dave more often than they do. It’s only the shame stopping them. And we know pride comes before a fall.
Photo credit: PhillipC