Cricket Diary: Old Haunts

Another cancelled match. Another failure with the bat. Another blow on the finger. Another familiar old ground and a few beers with an old foe!

The Week That Was

No net on Monday (Penkridge) again, and in all probability for the rest of the season! Fact is that I really need Monday to recover, and at the moment to rest my finger as well, and the simple reality is that I can’t really allocate two hours to netting when it only includes 10 minutes batting, no fielding practice and the rest of the time bowling when I am not bowling on a Saturday.

No net on Tuesday (Barlaston) mainly because it was raining, but also because there was a net planned for Thursday. I did call into the club for a drink as I was staying in Trentham overnight, but as it was selection night I didn’t linger! Did have time for a beer and a chat with Mark Taylor, son of Bob who has been a member of Barlaston for 32 years, but played for Bagnall back in the lats 70’s when I played against him for Caverswall.

Sat at my parents I got the team sheet through on the WhatsApp group and was not surprised to see that I was not selected for the 4s. After all my performance in the field had been average at best and add in a first baller meant it most certainly had not been a good day at the Office. Half an hour later, out of interest, I looked at the team sheets for the whole weekend and was a little surprised to see that I was actually selected for the 3s.

Wednesday was a long day with my parents at Scarborough for the Royal London match between Yorkshire and Northamptonshire. Lovely ground, lovely day (well until lunch when it rained) and good to see the legend that is Dickie Bird

Scarborough is a pretty large part of our history. My mother went there on holiday as a child, often to the Festival and her mother went to live there in a hotel when she was widowed. The trip was a bit of a trip down memory lane for us all. Lovely lunch in the Marque!

Thursday I netted at Barlaston with a couple of the old timers and the youngsters. This is a recent addition, initiated by the youngsters who wanted to practise more as they felt they didn’t get enough time on a Tuesday. Works well for me as is an opportunity to stretch the old body out, test out the finger and put bat on ball. Was also my first session against a professional bowling machine. Hadn’t been invented when I last played. Took some getting used to i.e. adapting trigger movement, but I liked the fact it was targeted on my legs. In the evening got the message that was selected for the 4s on Saturday.

Friday it rained all day so a lazy day, and no surprise that the match on Saturday was called off as Stafford Grammer School Top Pitch has no covers. Obviously disappointing but did mean I wasn’t playing on my birthday.

Saturday walked the dogs, lay on the sofa watching TV, had a coffee and scone with my parents, watched more TV, ate pizza and drank wine ….. a more than satisfactory way to spend my 58th birthday!

Sunday my batting woes continued with another iffy decision given out from a bump ball, for 1 opening the batting. Fielding was much better with no errors and got to everything I would be expected to get to. We secured a winning draw whatever that is, but the real plus was once again playing at an old ground from my past and my parents been able to pop up a couple of times to watch. Fact is Sunday was always by priority and preference to play when I decided to try playing again and Barlaston has been great: chance to visit old grounds, meet a few old faces, less overs and the fact is so easy for my parents to come along and enjoy a few hours is perfect.

Body Count

This is how much I can now bend my finger. Hardly at all, and not without significant pain, but it is actually an improvement and mean I can at least get some contact from that finger on my bat, although not necessarily a good thing as it hurts!
The problem is mainly the knuckle, in particular the lump on the outside which is by far the most painful area. The section between knuckle and hand whilst swollen is virtually pain free.

Finger is actually a huge problem. I can hold a bat OK but anything hit towards the toe hurts a lot, and I know I am favouring it. Fielding though is the real issue. Ideally I would patrol the boundary where the ball arrives softer and any high catch can be caught avoiding the finger, but my legs (and arm) really aren’t up to that yet, so I field closer to the wicket where the ball is hit harder.

My knees are sore after a game and can be stiff during the game but they are manageable and getting better. The main issue at the moment is my lower abs and groin i.e. the muscles used for actually running as they are stiff and sore for days after a game, and not at all great during the game. They along with everything else are getting better, but I need to remember that this year was really a ‘sighter’ to see what I can do. I need to stop tinkering (with my batting) accept that I can still bat and that even 10 overs is long enough to contribute and play within my limitations, enjoy myself and then in the off season work really hard.

In Other News

Celebrated eight (8) years with Tigra in our lives this week, avoided any of the Olympics and think we are making slow but steady progress with Hollie. Sands went to her Mothers on Thursday which in theory gave me a whole day at home with the animals, but there always seems to be something that needs doing so I never seem to spend as much time doing nothing as I would like!

Opinion

Remain far from convinced The Hundred is a good idea and spent a fair amount of the week reading various articles and chatting about it both on Twitter and with real people!

If you want to read an article which pretty much sums it up for me then try this one from the Guardian.

I have watched a fair few games and they are enjoyable enough. No different than any other white ball game where you have no interest in who wins. The quality has been OK but not great, and that has led to some exciting finishes. The gimmicks add nothing to the game at all, and the permanent ramming down the throat of how great this mediocrity is, and how innovative this is and how the obviously not packed stands are sell outs is frankly insulting.

In general it seems that those that are being paid by The Hundred say it is great, those that are being asked to pay are split 50/50 and those that are already die hard cricket fans are about 80/20 against. Time will tell if it is going to succeed, but the feeling I have is that it isn’t going to achieve anything that investment in the T20 wouldn’t have and I fear for the future of the red ball game and the Counties, although I actually have no issue with the Royal LOndon One Day being in effect a Development team competition.

Thank You

Gray-Nicolls are generously supporting this diary and my return to cricket for the 2021 Season.

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