From the Nursery End: From Strauss’ bat to my hand

10:34 16 July 2012

Andrew Strauss, pictured celebrating his Test century against the West Indies at Lord

Andrew Strauss, pictured celebrating his Test century against the West Indies at Lord's, is available for Middlesex for the County Championship clash with Nottinghamshire. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Have you ever seen it, when the ball goes over the boundary and it’s thrown back to a fielder by a spectator, and the throw is a pathetic girlie throw, that you know from the moment the spectator shapes to throw it that he doesn’t know what he’s doing and it looks like he’s never touched a cricket ball before?

And the ball is launched, and it drops well short of the fielder who’s only a few yards away, and wide too. A weak, ineffective attempt even though all that’s required is an underarm lob.

And you feel for that spectator, who’s surely embarrassed at his feeble effort, for he’s at a sporting event and he’s just demonstrated to everyone there that he couldn’t ever have played, not with an arm like that, not even for the most desperate pub side. And you know it’d have been even worse if he’d tried to throw it overarm.

Well, dear Reader, on the first day of the Notts game at Uxbridge, that embarrassing chump was me.

Sitting in the teeth of a gale, braced for the inevitable rain, and in a cloud of tiny flies which had chosen that morning to emerge from wherever tiny flies live and congregate just square of the wicket behind the advertising boards where I was seated.

You can see that I’m building up my excuses. Middlesex were three down already and it was clear where this innings was going (all out 98) when Andrew Strauss cut Gurney.

It beat the fielder, rolled up and over the sloping advertising hoarding and dropped onto the ground to my right.

Things were looking good. Firstly, I was actually watching rather than reading or sleeping so I could see it coming. Secondly, I’d anticipated well and had time to put my sandwich down and prepare myself.

I watched the ball all the way and knew to take my time, not rush into the throw – there was no run-out attempt needed, no need to throw it flat and hard just over the bails into the keeper’s gloves, just loop it back to Samit Patel who was trotting towards me.

I picked it up. I didn’t rush. In fact I looked at it. It seemed very scuffed considering Middlesex had hardly been able to lay a bat on it.

Then I realised that I couldn’t get my feet in the right place to throw properly because of the chair and my bag and the advertising board.

And I couldn’t give it a proper heave as I thought my hand might hit the board at the bottom of the swing at the moment of release.

Imagine that one – throwing the ball, it immediately hitting the board and bouncing back behind me somewhere in the direction of where the swimming pool used to be.

So I sort of released it a bit early, off the wrong foot, unbalanced, with no power. If your toddler threw like that you’d take him to someone to have him checked out.

It dropped well short of Patel – not wide mind – and he gave me the sort of look that I at first I took to be pity; here’s this great big chap, obviously well enough to go out on his own and stand up without help, but who can’t muster enough strength to chuck a ball a few yards.

But then on further reflection perhaps that look meant that he thought I did it deliberately to get the shine off or that I thought, like the England management, that he needed a little extra exercise so I made him bend over.

I sat down, caught my breath and brushed the flies off my sandwich. What am I? A ball boy?

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