I thought they were joking, they might have been, but Steve Milner still handed the captaincy of the Fiskerton evening league team to me (Ian Wilkinson).
The day of the game came around. With no chance of the weather coming to my rescue and a limited knowledge of the game I consulted the FCC web site to see if I could learn the fielding positions. After memorising the names of nine positions (I thought that would do) I set off for the game and promptly forgot most of the fielding positions along the way. Walking past the gate of Laxtons small but beautifully formed ground I realised that the gate probably knew more about cricket than me and this could be a long evening.
With toss comfortably lost the home skipper elected to bat. When asked by an expectant team what the plan was I firmly told the team that we had to score more runs than the opposition. They all laughed not realising that really was my one and only plan (it would have to do). The Fiskerton dressing was room filled to the brim with bowlers who were quite cheerful about the result of the toss.
The trouble was the home skipper wasnt daft. This was a batters track with short boundaries. It was hard going but Fiskerton stuck to the task. Ali Hall took 2 wickets in his spell. Phil Z and Luca bowled well but with no reward, the skipper started well with the first over going for just 6 runs. However, the ball was then despatched for so many boundaries in my second over the spectators started calling record breakers. That comedy fielding and dodgy field positioning earned the skipper captain calamity. Thankfully Kyle Barker and Jack Surtees were on hand to bowl the remaining overs. Sound fielding from Steve Holt and Richard Baker ensured the runs did not flow as quickly as they otherwise might have. Kyle took a wicket with the last ball of Laxtons innings. I took a long hard look at the score board, Laxton had amassed 142 runs. The Fiskerton Team desperately needed some inspirational batting if we were to get anywhere near in our twelve overs.
The lack of recognised batsmen provided an opportunity for players who do not usually bat up the order to show their abilities. The surprise on some faces as they were given batting order numbers like 3, 4 and 5 was obvious but opportunity was knocking for someone. James Kirkham and Rob Turner opened the batting and set about putting on a solid opening partnership. Rob fell with 16 runs to his name. Step forward Steve (no more Mr Nice Guy) Milner. Nostradamus could not have predicted what was about to happen. 15 balls and 27 runs later Steve had put Fiskerton right back in the game and with James still at the crease the oppositions total started to look gettable. Kyle Barker was the next in and carried on where Steve left off stroking the ball over the boundary for 6. James continued hitting the boundary with increasing regulatory. The last over came around and a few balls in the scores were level. With victory in sight man of the match James Kirkham was bowled out for 66. Two balls remained and it was all down to Ali Hall. Needing just one run for a win the field closed in him. To guarantee a dramatic finish (so he says) he took no run from the first ball he faced. The final ball was bowled and Ali despatched in to the boundary for 4. The plan had been executed perfectly and victory was ours.
Thank you to all the team from a very grateful rookie captain. Thank you also to Steve Collo and Rob Tuner for helping ensure we fielded 11 players.