Diary of a Vegan Cricketer (Week Four)

Playing as a Bowler for the first time, being a Vegan is really highlighting the issues of inclusivity, some great progress with the NBCC LGBTQ+ team and Church Eaton, but elsewhere some not so good news (depending on how you look on it I guess), clarity on the season (finally) and ….. more rain!

2024 Season Week Four: April 22nd – April 28th

Managed to get a little outdoor running done over the first couple of days of the week, which coupled with a lot of rehab and some sessions on the bike meant I was feeling pretty good before the XL game against Shrewsbury School on the Wednesday.

I have a mixed history with the XL games that I played last year: enjoyed a couple, didn’t enjoy the last one at all. They are generally tough games for me with the clue being in the name (a 40’s club) and the opposition (schools), but I don’t mind that so long as the captain is realistic as to what us ‘old uns’ can do.

Shrewsbury School is amazing, and without opening to big a can of worms, highlights why these schools provide so many professional players: they are basically professional academies for both boys and girls.

This was the first game I had ever played as a bowler, so it was quite strange spending our innings not expecting to bat. Ended up batting with 2 minutes to go before our timed declaration (madness eh) ran two byes, ran another two byes, chopped on off third ball so yet another short stay at the crease. Still …. bowled well with 4 overs, 2 wickets and not many runs and pulled off my first diving stop in the field since I returned to the game …. and quite possibly my last! It was an enjoyable day and confirmed to me that my mid week games need to a) be playing as a bowler – I will play Sunday for Church Eaton as a batter to give balance to body – b) they need to be not every week, and c) they have to not include long journeys. Tuesdays will now be spent playing golf rather than Staffordshire Seniors for the foreseeable future. This has been slowly emerging as the most likely scenario ie not playing Staffordshire Seniors, but the fact the XL games are an option has brought the clarity that I needed.

The school put on a tea and a chicken curry after the game, but as nobody at any point asked for any dietary requirements I took my own tea and gave the curry a miss. I find this easy to do as my tea is always the same and basically what I used to take on the pet transports for years, with a few modifications:

  • Peanut Butter and Jam Wraps
  • Apple & Banana
  • Vegan Biscuits
  • Vegan Protein Bar
  • SIS Energy Gel and Drink
  • Heul Shake/Mel
  • Nuts and Raisins

The captain said afterwards that I should have made people aware but this year is about researching what the current situation is in cricket, so if I warn clubs I will never know. This is about learning, not pointing fingers. I have no doubt that the School would have provided some good food, but that isn’t the point. I want to experience how proactive cricket is to inclusivity regards Vegans as a small example of what others face (and have faced for years).

So far there has been virtually no inclusivity for this Vegan Cricketer.

Thursday the old legs and body felt pretty good. No worse than usual and the reality that is slowly dawning is that this may well be as good as it gets, which will be far better than I ever hoped, but not good enough to play any form of really competitive cricket, and certainly no cricket that involved long drives – see above. The planned golf was postponed as Mothers Birthday Breakfast became a Brunch, followed by the need to spend time sorting out a NBCC Partnership. Used the opportunity to rest, rehab and do a little work on the bike and some very gentle shuttles.

Available in Mens SS and LS and Womans SS

The wet (and cold) weather continued on Friday which involved a dog walk, another birthday lunch for Mum and the sofa as I gave the old bones a good rest before the game on Saturday.

Church Eaton had a friendly against Eccleshall, which they did really well to put on. It was a cold (and wet) 30 overs in the field, but gave Loz (2s captain) and myself (2s VC and Coach) the opportunity to work together and give some youngsters that will feature regularly in the 2s a chance to play. It also provided the opportunity for the first NBCC LGBTQ+ player to play for the club, which was really rewarding (they played well and enjoyed it) and shows how quickly we have moved and what can be done when everyone involved has clarity and commitment to a vision. I only bowled 2 over, but 3 for 7 was a pretty good return and so far this season the ball is coming out well and I have taken 7 wickets. Batting wise I opened the batting for the first time since June 2022, and felt comfortable. One reason I gave up was that mentally I just couldn’t face the thought of a long innings with the all the physical aches and pains, so it was a bit of a personal hurdle that I got over: had three comfortable overs, ran OK, hit the ball well, then got one that popped up off a length, took a leading edge …. to mid off. These new bats and their thick edges eh!!!

Sunday the rain once again effected plans. I was due to join NBCC Mentor Ali Chowdhury for some coaching at Berkswell and then go to Edgbaston, but having woken to the familiar sound of rain, I checked the weather app, and then the flood (yep a pun) of WhatsApp messages saying coaching was off, and the depressing familiarity of games being cancelled! Took the opportunity to prepare for Spain as I am heading off tomorrow to a) get dry and warm, b) install a cooker and c) watch the Champions League with friends.

The NBCC LGBTQ+ initiative took up quite a lot of the week but we have made huge progress with two fixtures confirmed already, a Captain and a Head of Compliance announced, a new kit sorted, and eighteen (18) players signed up to play and be coached.

Fitness wise it remains a very mixed bag: the progress and improvement from last year is amazing to be honest. The left knee is still the biggest issue but that is improving and the more I run and play the stronger it will get I think, as will the hamstring. Both knees are tender when I run and I suspect that may always be the case, but even the right hip is showing signs of finally loosening up and the right arm is probably around 80% (started at around 40% at end of last season). Weight loss is a total failure, bit am a lot stronger and eating much better so that will get sorted in due course I think.

So off to Spain then. When I booked it the theory was that having had three weeks of the season (pre season and first two weeks) it would be good to give the body a rest, but as things stand I am still under cooked so will do some long walks, and a little jogging and shuttle runs on the beach …. are worse places to do this!

I am not expecting to play again until an XL game on the 8th, and then the league for Church Eaton on the 11th. The Church Eaton 1s start their season on the 4th but I am not expecting to play, but am available, and I did say I was available for a Guest Game on 5th May in London if they were short, but a) I doubt they will be and b) I really do need to avoid the long journeys to play cricket as much as I can.

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