Cricket Diary: Looking Back & Planning Ahead

End of season but already looking ahead to next season and I have a plan but first, rest, LOTS of rest, then a return of the long Sunday Lunch. But for now thanks to everyone that has contributed to helping this rather mad idea actually work, and huge thanks to both clubs, Penkridge and Barlaston.

The Week That Was

Monday: after my best fielding performance by far this year I was equally happy to wake up with less paid and stiffness than on any other Monday! Little frustrating that is only one game to go, but great inspiration to train hard over the winter. Am very much into pre post season at the moment so apart from walking the dogs I did nothing.

Tuesday: and at the third attempt father had his procedure which was all good news, but what he thought was a day job took two so I had an unplanned evening and overnight stop with my mother.

Wednesday: spent all day waiting for father to be discharged, and went for my flu jab!!!

Thursday: sorted tickets for next years Test, ODI and T20 Finals Day, worked on a couple of bats I am restoring, walked the dogs and then theatre in the evening for Sands birthday

Friday: Sands birthday. Father confined to the house post procedure so an even quieter one that usual. Long walk with the dogs, then a lovely dinner at home, but not a late one because …..

Saturday: T20 Finals Day with three of the old boys from Barlaston. Messy!!!

Sunday: last game of season, at home (Barlaston) but not exactly ideal preparation. We won a good game, with a tight finish, and I took a good catch at mid wicket but brain freeze when batting saw me repeat mistakes of earlier season and was out LBW pulling a short one that didn’t bounce. It needed hitting (bad ball) but not off my second ball and once again highlighted that my mental approach needs working on as much as my physical abilities. Good evening of pizza and beer with team and club mates rounded off both the week and season in a very satisfactory way.

In Other News

I think maybe next year Amazon should sponsor me! I just had a look back through the seasons orders:

24 Bottles of Radox

12 Bottles of Whisky

4 Packets of Neurofen

1 Massage Gun

16 Rolls of Elastoplast

2 Safe & Sound Finger Bandage (with applicator no less)

6 tubes of Ibulve Max Strength Pain Relief

4 Packs of SuperBrace Finger Splints (Pack of 3)

6 Tubes of High 5 Electrolyte Sports Drinks

3 Deep Freeze Cold Spray (4 Pack Deal)

1 Boxer Finger Splint

1 Pack Finger Splints (7 pieces)

2 x 2 Pack Knee Supports

It will be a relief not to be logging on every Monday morning to re-order and then hobble to the gate on Tuesday to collect!

Body Count

Nothing new to report, but I have devised a schedule to work on before the start of next season.

Opinion

Whilst disappointed that I didn’t score more runs I am really happy with the way this first season went. The reality is I proved to myself and others that I can still play: with scores in the 40s, 30s and 20s I know I can still bat. I hit some sixes and fours, scored quickly at times and batted out time at other times. I got myself out far more often than I was got out and I certainly need to work on building up my approach and confidence in the middle. I net well, but don’t take that onto the pitch with me often enough.

Fielding got better but again I showed I can still catch, taking catches in the slips, gully, short mid wicket, short cover, cover and on the boundary and deep long off and square leg. If I get my hands to the ball it tends to stick, but that started out as a BIG IF at the beginning of the season but got smaller as I worked (hard) on my fitness and flexibility.

I would like to have bowled more as I don’t think I let the team down when I did bowl and it was frustrating to not get more chances. Maybe it’s the unavoidable result of being in development teams where the youngsters and mainly bowlers, maybe opening didn’t help.

Which brings me to the other dilemma I need to resolve if possible: what is my best role in the team? I can open, but have never enjoyed it. More often I did it because I was the older/best player in a team. Statistically and natural style wise I have always been better at 4 – positioned to take advantage of a good start, or to dig in after a poor start and able to bring a game home or nurse the youngsters through their innings. I am nowhere near as good as I was but honestly think this would be my best position partly because from a mental approach the way to play is largely dictated by the state of the match when I go in to bat.

If I was captain of the development team I would tell me I was batting at 4, would bowl 4 to 6 overs, and field at slip when one was required, or catching mid wicket or cover, then later in the innings catching on the boundary.

For my own part I need to figure out batting in the middle. I should probably not be too hard on myself as I patently lack a fair few years experience and I have been far from alone in making bad decisions this year, but I am hard taskmaster on myself! I think the first thing to do is ‘stop over thinking’ the whole game. I have some natural ability still, and I should work my game around that rather than think I am 18 again with a career ahead of me. I have a good stance and set up and I have a good eye. If I can net a lot before next season and make this all ‘second nature’ then when I go into bat I can just think about the next ball.

I know I have the ability and the aptitude, I just need to re find the application! And being fitter will help.

On the personal side I will always struggle with the fact that I am not a ‘club man’. I have very little need for people socially, and struggle in large groups and events. My coping mechanism has always been alcohol, but avoidance is far healthier. I know it makes me come over as distracted and not ‘one of the boys’ but life is far healthier for myself and Sands when I keep myself to myself, and sober!

Age and lifestyle are not particularly conducive to ‘fitting in’ either. Joining a club full of people that have known each other for years is like going to the evening do of a wedding when you only know the bride and groom. I have tried my best, which will not really have been that good to be honest, and I am genuinely sorry to anyone that may fee that I have been uninterested. I am a natural recluse, and we came back to be close to family in their remaining years and their (and my) health is the only priority I have – I include Sands and the animals in family. Circumstances mean I need to plan ahead, yet remain as flexible as possible, so again apologies if this has made you think I am after special treatment. I am not. I am always happy to accept the way things are. I will always be happy to express an opinion but I never have an issue if things don’t change or work out.

Thank You

Gray-Nicolls who generously supporting this diary and my return to cricket for the 2021 Season. I did not take full advantage as a) I had so much kit already and b) the Pandemic and Brexit seem to have made cricket equipment as rare as the proverbial Rocking Horse S*** so I am not sure what next season will bring but Gray-Nicolls will remain my equipment and clothing of choice for nets and practice.

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