Cricket Diary: The Art of Drinking

One of the unexpected pleasures of my return to cricket has been a number of trips down memory lane although not always directly cricket related to be fair.

Monday saw me adding to me collection of aches and pains this time with a rather impressive bruise to the back of my right knee. My fault as I didn’t keep my eye on the batter in the nets, but perhaps a lesson for others as well as I was in the process of retrieving the ball I had bowled from the nets when the next bowler bowled and the batter played their stroke. As I said MY fault but could have been avoided if the bowler had waited until the net was clear or the batter had been aware and just blocked the ball. Other than that the session was good regards working more on stance, guard and not planting front foot across the line, and I am trying to bowl more, but again no fielding practice.

My fault as turned my back in the nets BUT I was bending down to retrieve the ball, so a) the bowler should not have bowled and b) the batter should not have played the shot. Basic net discipline BUT as I said my fault and three wrongs make for a very sore knee!
Wasn’t sure which was the more impressive photo!!??

Tuesday I had a very pleasant evening at the T20 in Headingley where I had arranged to meet some other members that I have been exchanging banter with on Twitter, and it transpired that we had a few previous games and mutual acquittances in common. As I said, has been an unexpected pleasure.

Wednesday I was back in the nets but not the most energetic session as knee was a tad sore and stiff, and my little finger is still far from fixed. Broke it (again) a couple of weeks ago and you know the way it goes: have taken several blows on it since then fielding, holding the bat not only uncomfortable but painful at times, and even on a day to day basis it is always noticeable how much you use an injured part of your body without realising. Sands came up with me this week and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours watching the Under 12s. Broken record time but it really is chalk n cheese compared with the pre historic days of my previous incarnation. The kit, the team unity, the set up, the quality and the number of parents watching all truly brilliant. Kudos to the ECB and the clubs for this, but I still have a bee buzzing under the old cap about how much better it would be if the ECB really did want to introduce more children into the game and had invested The Hundred money into grass roots cricket – the spine of the game that is Club – County – Test.

Broken five times now, twice in one season ‘back in the day’ and once on my 21st playing tennis with my mother.

Thursday I try and give the old body a treat and do absolutely nothing other than spend time with my parents. One of the reasons we moved back from Spain was to help them get as much out of life as possible, and as ever they have continued to be supportive of my madness as the obsession I have with playing again has reduced the time we would have normally spent together, so Thursdays we have lunch, go and see their old friends, they come round for coffee etc. Thursday is also the day Sands goes to Formby to see her mother, so Thursday evening is often a take away, bottle or two of wine and a chill out in front of Catch Up TV – very rock n roll eh?

Friday would normally be another net session followed by a few beers watching the juniors train, but we were going to the T20 at Edgbaston. In the event both were rained off so I subjected myself to the England v Scotland game until I realised that I had seen it all before at every tournament since 1974 (even I am not old enough to remember 1966 and in 1970 we were good), with the exception of ’96 and fell asleep!

Quick Note: I plan to be at the Junior Training this week where I have a brand new pair of Kookaburra Ghost Batting Gloves (Junior) and a Brand New Kookaburra Ghost Cricket Bat (Harrow) for the Football Name Card.

Saturday I had a very quick net of sorts in the morning to a) test my finger, b) test my knee and c) have a few throw downs with the Masuri Bat that I have been knocking in all week. I then spent the rest of the day watching the ball being dispatched to all parts of the ground, often off my bowling – 8 Overs, 0 Maidens, 0 Wickets, 75 Runs at a rather joking called Economy Rate of 9.38 which still made me the 3rd most ‘economical’ bowler of the 8 used. Credit where credit is due they made the most of the opportunities we gave them with one batter getting 209 and another 111, but the reality is they were both dropped during our opening bowlers spells. Batting at 6 I watched 2 wickets fall before I faced a ball. 4 from my first ball, a leg bye and then played on pretty much summed the day up. We kept smiling, and the team enjoyed the ‘curtailed’ day out, but if the old adage of ‘catches win matches’ is true we are set for a few more long days in the field. It is frustrating as reports from the previous week were that we fielded well so we can obviously do it, just not consistently enough.

Sunday was fathers day so after an American Breakfast at home with my parents the rest of the day was spent enjoying a very impressive performance from Barlaston 4s who like Penkridge have a great junior set up and some very impressive youngsters. I am really enjoying visiting some of the old grounds that I graced in my youth, and the fact my parents are still around to enjoy the occasional trip down memory lane is great. Yesterday I bumped into someone that I played against when I used to open with my mate, which got us talking about his father: an enthusiastic cricketer, a very distinctive umpire and a brilliant teacher – he taught is both how to drink! This was back in the day when pubs were pubs (food was a ham or cheese roll from behind the bar), old boys had their tankards behind the bar and sat in the same place every time. Dominoes, Crib and Bar Billiards were the entertainment when any was required, which was rare as the main past time (other than drinking real ale) was conversation, or to be more accurate for us youngsters listening! I learnt so much just from listening, not just about the subjects being discussed, and the people telling them, but of respect for the process of drinking, respect for the traditions of the club(s), of the game itself – shaking hands with the umpires, congratulating good performances, a post match drink with the opposition. COVID-19 has restricted many of these, but I hope that they will not only bounce back, but continue for many years to come.

Thank You

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

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