It's been a day of deep disappointment. I'm emotionally drained after having watched the two cricket matches my lads have played today. The first team lost by a mere 5 runs. The second team lost by 6 runs. In the middle of the afternoon we were bossing the games with the ball and looked set for comfortable victories in both matches. But nothing can ever be taken for granted in cricket. This sport so often bites back.
Roam has never liked losing. As captain, he absolutely hates it. He can't fault his own performance though. He took 3 wickets in a very tight opening spell and then came back to claim the last wicket, that of the Pool batsman who had scored the greatest chunk of his side's total of 140. We had them on the rocks at one stage but they recovered well. It was the first time Roam had been under pressure as a captain and he handled it with distinction. This shot is of him leading his team off the field at the end of the first innings, a look of determination on his face. He had already bowled this guy out once in the over, off a no ball, so when he bowled him again he was totally pumped.
At this point I knew the first team had bowled Pool out for 61 so I headed back along the valley to watch Forrest open and hopefully see him knock the runs off in quick order. Although I made good time, by the time I'd cycled the 8 miles back to Ben Rhydding, Forrest was already out and the team stood at 1-2. They were soon 8-4 and then 20-6. Reports from the seconds were that they were cruising so I stayed to watch to see if a miracle might happen at home. It almost did. We edged closer and closer but just failed to cross the finish line. There was desperate disappointment in the camp when that last wicket fell.
I then got a call from Roam to say that there had been a middle order collapse. They'd gone from romping it at 100-2 to looking vulnerable at 104-6. I got on the bike to cycle the 8 miles back to Pool. I arrived with the score on 123-9 and Roam at the crease. All seemed to be lost. But Roam looked very assured with the bat and was farming the bowling, playing some good strokes, chipping away at the total. He got them to 134 and told me later that he felt confident about getting the runs. He hadn't felt in any trouble. He had to rely on the last man to survive at the other end but, again, it wasn't to be. Roam didn't get the chance to face the final over and go for a win. He was left stranded on 13 runs. And completely devastated.
Personally, the whole winning and losing thing has never been that important to me. To lose by a just a handful of runs is a respectable performance. You've played pretty much as well as the opposition. There is nothing between you. But my lads take nothing from the narrowness of the margin. It's black and white. To win is everything. Losing today, when they know they should have won, has been awful. And it's been awful for me too because I've lived all those emotions. Perhaps it's worse for me because I've lived them twice. I've had to sit through two nail-biting finishes.
It's the price I pay for having put bat and ball in their hands when they were toddlers. But I have no regrets. I don't think they have either. This is life.