Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Fourteenth Post : My First Published Match Reports. Part one.

was recently lucky enough to be involved with the press/media for the games between Scotland and Ireland in Ireland for games in the World Cricket League Championship and the Intercontinental Cup.

It was a steep learning curve for someone who loves the game but hadn’t written professionally before but I backed myself and trusted that my enthusiasm would carry my ability along with it and that I would produce something print worthy for a reputable web site that had taken a punt on me and given me a trial run.

My first report was for the first game of the One Day International series between Scotland and Ireland in the World Cricket League Championship held at Stormont in Belfast. I was so nervous that I hardly said a word to the rest of the press people all day despite them being some of the friendliest people in the world. I did my best to look professional but things took a wrong turn right from the start as my computer decided to have a major meltdown as soon as I took my seat next to the seasoned pros. The bloody thing was working perfectly before I left the house in the morning too but as soon as the game started it froze and became unworkable. I tried turning it off and on again but it didn’t work, and having exhausted my technical know-how (the stupid machine not even responding to anything after the third time I turned it off/on again, the screen stubbornly staying blank), I was forced to revert to keeping it old school with a notepad and pen. My notebook (a gift from a friend during my Uni days)  had a picture of a pirate on every page with the added design that read “Pirates Rule” made me feel a little less than professional and the pen that kept running out made me feel positively amateurish. Nether-the-less I pushed on, watching the game and taking notes, feeling like an imposter, feeling out of place.

Once the game is done I rush home to see if six hours of non-use has done the computer any good and if it can be resuscitated. It makes promising noises before claiming that it needs to do a system scan that will take some minutes. Twenty minutes later it claims that the remaining time for system scan will take 1 hour 15 minutes. I go for a cup of tea.

Eventually the computer suggests that I reset the computer to a date when everything was working properly. I perform a system reset. More minuets tick by and the deadline creeps ever closer and I still haven’t managed to type any of my notes into a report whatsoever. Panic enters the room and sits on the edge of the bed saying “Don’t mind me; I’m just sitting here, minding my own business. I won’t even say anything. When’s the deadline again?”

The computer finishes its reset (piss off panic, you’re no longer necessary.) only to have removed both my spell checking programs!!! Panic rears its ugly head again and this time I can’t fend it off.

I bash out the best report possible with bugger all time and a useless online word processer program that fails to correct any spelling mistakes, capitalise new sentences, apply the dreaded apostrophe but does actually change the structure of my sentences rendering them useless in conveying the information I am trying to relate. In short, Worst. Spellchecker.  Ever !!!

I am forced to go through everything manually to find where the spelling/grammar mistakes are (as best I can), correct them and also change the sentence structure back to something that makes sense.

People who know me in real life will know that this is not an easy thing for me to even think about, let alone do. Post modern doesn’t really cover my attitude to spelling and many realms of grammar and I remain mortal enemies. (One day, apostrophe, I will destroy you!!!)

In the end I supply the following report. It’s not the best example of writing ever produced (feel free to feel superior by highlighting every error contained within) but all the salient facts of the match are included and I made it ever so slightly before deadline. Considering the mountain of tech disasters I had to trapeze I’m pleased that I managed to get anything submitted at all.

But the report is clunky and awkward and when it’s published the next day I notice that my name hasn’t appeared on the byline. It’s not the best example of my writing and I know I can do better and I’m a little embarrassed at what I supplied and, quite frankly, I’m not that bothered by the oversight of my name.


And here is the text I supplied to them. (You can play spot the difference if you want.)

After an uncharacteristically scrappy start by the Irish, that saw the usually tight Johnston give away four wides in a single over, and some scrappy fielding that saw an easy run out chance, (with both batsmen at the strikers end) go begging, Ireland settled down into their usual tight unit. The first wicket of Gardiner for six runs in the fifth over, caught by Dockrell off the bowling of Murtagh, helped sharpen the focus of their minds. Johnson was replaced by Sorensen after what must be Johnston’s worst spell of his life, and showed him how its done by lifting Freddie Coleman’s off stump out of the ground with his first ball.Machan looked good for 27 before chopping one one that kept low from Sorensen. MacLeod and Mommsen joined forces to steady the Scottish ship and bring up the 100 for scotland in the 24th over and the 50 partnership in the 25th. Before Scotland took the powerplay in the 35th over, Dockrell had MacLeod bowled for 21 and Stirling claimed Rob Taylor caught at long on for 11.
The powerplay saw the loss of Berrington caught at long off boundary trying to force the pace off the bowling of Dockrell and it wasn't long before he also had Murphy out, stumped, and Haq L.B.W. to one that kept low in a double wicket maiden to finish with his best figures in O.D.I.’s of 4/24.
Mommsen was left to rally the tail and ended with rewarding total of 91 not out and guided Scotland to a total of 223/4 from the full 50 oversIt was a fighting total but one that looked a little light especially considering the potential in the Irish batting line up.
The Irish response started splendidly with Porterfield taking a liking to the Scots bowling and racing to 24 off 22 balls. Sharif felt the brunt of Porterfield who took him to the boundary at will. Taylor replaced Sharif but it made little difference to the Irish scoring and the 50 comes up in 8.4 overs with a crunching cover drive by Porterfield for 4. After 10 overs Ireland are 55/0 and look to be cruising.
Majid Haq enters the attack and initially has trouble slowing the scoring rate but he eventually manages to claw it back and the initial breakthrough belongs to him as Stirling cuts one to short third man and is out, caught, for 30.
Porterfield scores a breezy 62 with shots all round the ground before being caught at point but even with both the openers gone Ireland still looked in control and the 100 comes up in the 20th over.
Haq continued to keep it tight and earnt Ed Joyce wicket ,stumped for 11 as the frustration rose. Next over Haq struck again as Wilson was caught behind for 2 giving Haq figures of 3/26 from 10 overs.
When Kevin O’Brien was caught behind for 3 to leave Ireland at 129/4 in the 30th over the skies started to darken with clouds and Duckworth/Lewis started to be considered.
Two overs later when Niall O’Brien was caught behind for 10 Ireland were behind the D/L method for the first time in the match. Ireland - 131/5 ...  D/L - 138. Edward Richardson relieved the pressure hitting two 4’s in the 33rd over but when he’s out for 12 the D/L target continues to rise.
The powerplay taken at the 35th over starts with Ireland on 144/6 (34 behind the D/L par) and ends with Ireland 171/7 and now only 11 behind the D/L par score.
Johnson is caught for 21 in the 41st over but Sorensen and Murtagh keeps a cool head. A top edge dropped at fine leg in the 46th over leaves everyone on the edge of their seat as the game swings Ireland's way.
Machan has Sorensen stumped in the 49th over for 31 and with 12 runs required off 6 balls and one wicket to do it with its a simple case of whoever holds their nerve, wins.
The last wicket pair take singles of the first three balls before Murtagh launches a massive 6 straight down the ground to crash into the sightscreen leaving 3 runs required off 2 balls.
A square cut for four ends the game with a win for Ireland in a super tight game with one wicket in hand and one ball to spare.

I was much more relaxed for the second game also held at Stormont in Belfast and even spoke to a couple of people in the press tent too. I felt lucky to be invited back to the press tent after the scrappy report from the first game. Mind you, thought i was excluded altogether when I arrived at the ground to find my name wasn’t on the press list and security wouldn’t let me in. My confidence took another beating when the girl who showed up behind me just as I was telling the security guard that I was there to write match reports for cricketeurope. Com proudly exclaimed “So am I !!!” (Panic joined the queue and started whispering “Gosh, that was a short career wasn’t it. And dumped so unceremoniously. She’s even prettier than you too. I’ll just go stand over her for a bit. Don’t mind me.”) However her name wasn’t on the list either and a quick call to my contact at CricketEurope soon sorted out the whole mix up and we were both let through without further incident. (I left panic back at the entrance gate. His name wasn’t on the list after all!!!)
I had taken the computer to the game but left in the bag preferring to keep it old school with the pen and pad for the time being.

Enjoyed the day and even had a laugh or two with some other press people. I even snapped a couple of photos of the World Cricket League Championship Trophy when it was put on the table right in front of me in preparation of the award ceremony after the game. Ireland had already claimed it even before this series began and there was champagne a popping everywhere at the speeches and photo call after the game.


Here is the text I supplied to them. (You can play spot the difference if you want.)

Intense Ireland scunner Scotland.
With Ireland having qualified for the 2015 World Cup some time ago and having crushed Scotland’s dreams of joining them as second place qualifier in a last over thriller two days ago, this game is now, essentially, a dead rubber for both teams. With the pressure off you could have expected  some free spirited cricket and a more relaxed game from both nations. So when Scotland won the toss and chose to bat you might have thought they would have loosened their arms and swung from the hip as they tried to push the boundaries in the search for a few more runs, especially as the margin of defeat on Friday was only by a few runs.
But one of the things that sets this Irish team apart from the rest is their professionalism and never relaxing their intensity.
This Irish intensity was right on track from the first ball as Scotland’s openers found it difficult to get the ball off the square.
The intensity got to Coleman who fell to Sorensen in the fourth over for one run, his second failure in the series. Ireland’s intensity held and Scotland continued to find runs hard to come by finishing the 10 over powerplay on 28/1.
Eddie Richardson replaced Sorensen in the 11th over and had success with his fourth ball, Hamish Gardiner edging one to the keeper who takes a good one handed catch.
Machan is the next to go, caught at mid on after a good looking 23, failing to go on after making a start.
Mommsen is out shortly afterwards trying to pull a short delivery from Kevin O’Brien but only managing to to catch an edge on its way through to the keeper.
Berrington joins MacLeod and together they form the only partnership of note in Scotland’s innings adding 66 runs in 20.3 overs. They gave the innings some substance but very little style and at the 30 over point Scotland had crawled to 81/4 and were struggling to break away.
A rare boundary in the 31st over was the first for 16 overs.
With the powerplay taken from the 35th over, with the score on 107/4 and in need of a surge, Scotland still failed to turn on the power and the powerplay fizzled out in the 40th over with the score on 126/7, an addition of only 19 runs.
Kevin O’Brien’s first ball of his new spell after the powerplay earnt him the wicket of Berrington, caught at mid on off a rare attacking shot. Three overs later when Macleod was bowled failing to pick a Richardson slower ball Scotland had lost their last chance to set a decent total. The tail folded for scores of 4,0,4,and 0 leaving Scotland bowled out in 49.3 overs for the extremely below par score of 165.
Excellent bowling from all five front line Irish bowlers who all claimed wickets (Sorensen 3 for 36, K O’Brien 3 for 31) except George Dockrell who conceded only 25 runs from his 10 overs to go unrewarded.
Scotland attempted to show some of that discipline and intensity that Ireland are famous for and started admirably.
Wardlaw bowled Porterfield in the third over for 5 and after five overs Ireland have been pegged back to a score of 20/1 (at the same stage scotland were 18/1 ... honours even ?)
In the sixth over, after a long look, the umpire decided that Stirling did get an edge through to the keeper off Wardlaw. However this is the last time that Scotland could even think that they were in the game. Next over Joyce hits Shariffe for two boundaries and all momentum shifts Irelands way.
Even a rain break of twenty minutes couldn't slow Irelands scoring rate and by the 10 over point Ireland are almost double what Scotland were at the same time.
Joyce brings up Irelands 50 in the 11th over with a reverse sweep and it’s his partnership with Niall O’Brien, 69 runs in 12 overs, that see Scottish shoulders slump.
Haq eventually claims Joyces’ wicket (after two earlier edges had been missed by keeper and first slip) bowled for 39  with one that turned past the bat.
Wilson and Niall O’Brien scored runs freely and at the 25 over half way point had guided Ireland to 126/3 and needing only 41 runs to win. Cruise control saw this pair guide Ireland safely home to an easy victory with more than 17 overs to spare.

After the match Ireland were presented with the I.C.C. World Cricket League Championship Trophy and there were smiles all round the squad as champagne corks popped with confirmation that they had won yet another piece of silverware as the prove they are the leading associate nation by some distance ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Scotland’s squad had a look of a team that knows they can do better but have been too inconsistent during this competition.
Scotland can still make it to World Cup 2015 via a further qualifier to be held in New Zealand in January but their road is now much longer, and Ireland are are already there.
Adam Brook

I felt much better about this report and was proud to have my name attached to the article. There was still things to be learnt and to improve upon (I asked for feedback on what I’d written and was told that the editor had removed some of the ‘intensity’ from my report and also to watch the use of tense. Past tense is always best) but I knew that this was better than what I had submitted previously and that I was actually doing a good job.

I loved being involved with the press and writing about cricket for was a big thrill and a fabulous experience which had given me a new perspective on the game. I also didn’t feel like such a fraud after working on these two games.

Now I was looking forward to the four day game of the Intercontinental Cup to be played at Clontarf in Dublin with a renewed relish.

But more of that later ...


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