The Final Ball
The Final Ball
The stakes had never been higher.
We were in Switzerland. It was the final match of the 2023 U15 Continental tournament. Our team had driven 7 hours from Luxembourg the day before, we were not willing to lose. This was the best Luxembourg has ever had.
Additionally, our coach was a retired England national player, Will Stokes! We annihilated every other team in the tournament.
The only opponent left was the home team, the Swizz. The game had been going their way, it looked like they would send us back crying. We had scored a measly 100 runs in a 14-over match and they were nearly caught up. They had 98 runs and 4 overs left. But we had one final hope, our bowling was collapsing their batting structure and they were on the final batsmen.
If I didn’t bowl him out, he would likely score a quick 3 runs and win the tournament, ripping the victory from our hands. I stood there, 20 metres away from the crease preparing myself for likely the last ball in the game.
The ball was extremely peculiar compared to the normal balls we played with. It seemed like a gorgeous new ball, however, the seam was barely visible. This was terrible for the spinners on our team, that’s why even though I’m mediocre at best, the captain put me to play likely the last over of the match.
Standing there on the other side of the gym hall was the best batsman Switzerland had ever seen. He had blond curly hair, and light freckles on his face, which were outshined by his sorrowing green eyes. He was also one of the fittest people I know for his age. He wore a plain white cricket shirt with red outlines throughout with the team name dead centre, “The Swizz Rockets”. He wore similarly styled pants that nearly hid the Nike logo on his white scuffed-up trainers.
His name was Mike Jones.
I remember spotting him in changing rooms prior to the beginning of the match.
I called out “Hey, you’re Mike right? I saw you batting in your last game man, you’re amazing.”
“Shut up, I won’t fall for your tricks. I know I’m playing you next.” He uttered, with a death stare that reached my soul, grabbing it, forcing out the comfort I once felt in those halls.
“Jeez, no need to be so rude,” I replied slowly walking away, hoping he wouldn't notice my fear.
He was definitely not one of the nicest people I knew, which just increased my motivation to beat him. It wasn’t just a matter of victory, it was a matter of dignity.
I glared at him from the other side of the pitch, even though the helmet nearly drowned his face with a shadow, I could see the sparkle in his green eyes, a sparkle of pure hatred.
On the spur of the moment, the umpire drew his hand down and tilted his head in my direction, which meant it was time to bowl. I steadily began my run-up, accelerating ever so slightly until the last 10 metres in which I began to sprint.
I finally reached the white crease, as the non-striker got ready to dash across the pitch, my arm started twirling and as I was finally about to unleash the ball, I subtly slowed down the ball, as my last resort.
As a fielder, it is my job to decrease the runs as much as possible from the batting team and hopefully send them back home with an amazing catch or run-out, but also to observe. I had seen that Mike was extremely proficient at hitting 6s against fast bowlers, if the ball was not perfectly aimed at his legs on mid-stump, he would smash it for a 4, a 6 or unluckily a measly 3 runs.
The only glimmer of hope I had was to slow it down, and hope he misses the ball. I knew this wouldn't be enough though, so just as the ball was being thrust out of my hands, I applied around 5% spin. I know it would not do much, but I hoped, I prayed it would be just enough to cause Mike to miss the ball.
The ball flew through the air, spinning a nearly unnoticeable amount as a grin appeared on Mike’s face, he was ready to send it out of the walls of the gym, straight out of this planet. My heart was pumping and throbbing, I needed him to miss, or else my team's efforts would be for nothing.
I could see my friends in the corner of my eye, they had all lost hope, don’t get me wrong or anything, they didn’t think that little of me and my skill, just Mike Jones had ploughed through our bowlers and fielders as if we were puny flies in his way.
My best friend was positioned on the complete other side of the court from me, as a slip. Oli watched the ball intensely as it flew through the air, but had a slight look of sympathy, knowing how shit I would feel if lost and if it was because of me. He had straight black hair, and jet-black eyes as well. He came from India just like me but had an English dad, who presumably chose his name because I’ve never heard of an Indian Oliver. I trusted him with my life and knew he did the same. We had only known each other for a couple of years, we just had instant chemistry.
The ball landed on the dark green mat and bounced back up but at a slightly different angle due to the spin I put. This was the moment. He thrust his bat forward, expecting a direct 6 and he hit the ball. But only with the edge of his bat. He had accidentally nicked it!
The ball completely changed trajectory and was close to my best friend, Oli. He had the fastest reaction time I had ever seen and dived for the ball as we all looked in shock. He was on the floor. But he had caught it.
Our team and supporters cheered with a deafening volume as a smile crept on my face, replacing that of Mike Jones. I started to lose my senses as I dropped to my knees.
We had won, it was finally over.
Envoyé: 09:11 Tue, 14 March 2023 by : Naman Porwal Naman age : 15