Again. I drew my hand close, splayed my fingers wide and pressed down hard. On my shoulder.
I pivoted and turned left, facing the scorers.
“Short run, ” I intoned, making sure my voice carried off field.
Somewhere in the distance, a head raised and lowered. Perhaps a pen moved scratching paper, hopefully.
I turned back.
“Hey,” I shouted.
The batsman, mid-run, stopped and turned back to look to me, his smooth face, now
creased and puzzled.
“What?” he said.
“You need to ground your bat at this end,” I said.
He shrugged. And turned away. And sauntered back to the other end, his stare faraway.
To face another ball.
He took his position, lifted his head, stood still and tapped his bat three times.
And twenty seconds later, it happened again.
A foot scrape next to me, the whoosh of the ball, the crack of the bat, the long pause while the ball looped high.
I moved sideways and waited.
The closing patter of footsteps, the heavy breathing of the batsman, finally the bat sliding.
But still he didn’t pass me. Nor did he ground the bat.
I took my chance.
“Hey,” I said.
But by then the words had all jumbled up in my head.
“When you run two, you need to slide your bat into the crease and out again and then run back to the other end. “
He didn’t even shrug this time.
By then he had disappeared, eyes distant. Back to the other end. To do it all again.
I sighed. Pressed my had into my shoulder and turned yet again.
“Short run,” I said.
And that was most of my Saturday morning. Until he finally got out. Caught.
Out for forty four according to the scorer. But he must have run eighty eight. And if he’d turned those lost twos into threes, he would have an easy century.
It wasn’t until later when I replayed the game in my head that I realised.
Why he was otherwise occupied. He was dawdling while watching yet another fielder drop yet another skied catch. And fling it into the ground angrily.
And knowing he had enough time to make it back before tea.