Do you want to know something really scary? Dekker Curry, the most prolific and the most successful batsman in the history of Irish club cricket, averages 13.50 in the first-class game. In the same format, thanks to a few cover drives against Sussex, I average 21.00. For about ninety seconds, before I got out against Oxford, I averaged 42.00. If nothing else, this proves that in cricket there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.
I mention Dekker because, on Saturday, we played Ardmore in the Irish Cup. We lost, of course - that's what we do in the Irish Cup - but this was far from Ballymena's worst experience in the competition. The days at North County, Merrion, and Clontarf must fight for that honour. (For us, most visits to Dublin have been cricketing trips to hell: the toll charge on the motorway is the penny for the ferryman as we descend into the underworld.)
Until now I had escaped this annual trauma. Despite 2015 being my eleventh full year of senior cricket, this was my first cup match - we were always knocked out before I returned from school cricket or university - and so it was my first 'white ball' match in Ireland, my first chance to 'take the black' in Ballymena's colours. I did not make an auspicious debut.
I made a duck and I cannot complain. I was lucky to make that many, and I was probably 0 for 3. I could have been lbw to my second ball, though I might have been outside off; I would then have been run out had a throw from mid-on been on target; minutes later, my brief but painful innings was euthanised when Connor Brolly served up a wide full toss that turned into an off-stump yorker.
At least it was over quickly, and this gave me plenty of time to lap the pitch while considering life's great imponderables: Why are we not playing golf instead of cricket? Are 'pencil cricketers' and badgers so passionate about the sport precisely because they have never played it? How worrying is it that the three best bowlers in this match have a combined age of 131? And why has Michael Glass never been offered a modelling contract?
On a slow and dry pitch, we scraped to 113-4 thanks to our pro and William Montgomery, then collapsed to 126 all out thanks to Gary Neely (5-12) and some technically deficient batting.
Even defending 126 we had our chances to win, but we bowled 18 wides, we shipped another 15-20 runs in the field, and we maybe dropped two catches. I say 'maybe' because even after a full day of contemplation, I'm still not sure whether two chances carried to me at second slip. I don't know whether to apologise for dropping them, or for standing too deep. Neither is good.
In mitigation, slip fielding at Eaton Park is a difficult business. The ball often dies in the pitch, meaning that a lot of chances bounce before they reach you, and any that do are normally ankle-high. This effect is more pronounced when the bowling comes from the Town End, when the keeper and slips are on the ridge of the rugby training pitch. Here, the ground in front of you falls away and so you are often catching below ground level, if that makes sense. Even so, I will be wearing a hairshirt for the week and I expect banishment to third man this Saturday.
With the ball, my figures were rendered respectable by a good catch by my brother at long-on. In honesty I should have done more: the pitch was turning and I was bowling almost exclusively at left-handers. Yet unlike proper off-spinners - and this might be the hangover from a youth mispent bowling leg-spin - I hate bowling at left-handers, and I really hate bowling round the wicket to them. Actually, I might propose a 'southpaw quota' at this year's AGM.
On bowling round the wicket, I simply have a mental block. I don't get through my action, I feel too 'close' to the umpire, I get worried about over-stepping. It's village, I know, but I just can't do it. Because of this incompetence I have been forced - if only for my sake - to develop peculiar theories about bowling over the wicket to left-handers.
First, I argue that doing so gives me the chance to bowl them behind their legs; on occasion, it does and I got Griffin Nieuwoudt last year with one that turned miles. Second, I can pretend to bowl for the outside edge to slip, but this rarely happens because - with the angle - any turn will always beat rather than find the outside edge. Third, I try to convince myself that, because few others bowl this line to left-handers, they might find it difficult. They do not.
So the struggle goes on and I pray daily to the various gods of Ulster cricket that I might get to bowl at a series of very bad right-handers. Fat chance of that. This week we travel to the East Belfast Bernabeu (you can work that out...) for a Twenty20 group match, and on Saturday we go to Stormont in the Challenge Cup.
In the CricketEurope Ireland Forum, debate turns on how best to select an inter-provincial team. For what it's worth, I think the Warriors have got it right: starting last Monday's IP50 match with eleven homegrown players constituted a moral victory. They can only get better.