Season Two: September Round Up

Final month of a very mixed season: dominated again by injury, but when I played I played much better than last season, introduced myself to Staffordshire Seniors, got more clarity as to my future (more on that in another post), and generally had a good time!

On the field ……. first game was another guest appearance for Staffs over 70s. Bowled well (3 wickets – 2 bowled, 1 caught & bowled). Fielded better than I have all season. Really pushed myself and knees sore but held up. Damaged little finger took a bit of a hammering, a reminder it is far from fixed. Frustrated with my batting. 4 4s showing work in nets is paying off but am now being too aggressive. Should have taken the opportunity to bat a long time but got myself stumped.

Second game, Burslem away for BCC. A case of men v boys really as we fielded a development team against basically a first team. 250 runs later (didn’t bowl but fielding continues to improve) we tried to hang on …. with no success. All out for 80 odd. A six over 5 was a better approach but stumped second innings in a row. I think this is because in nets I bat outside of crease so when facing spin I don’t bat deep enough. Frustrating but is all good experience and I am slowly putting it all together.

Third game, Bignall at home. They scored 222, so no way we were going to get close. Did next to nothing in the field (maybe that may be the answer next year – still play on a Sunday but just bat and stand around in the field). Will need to bat better though as a 2 over duck trying to block 15 overs batting at 6 was poor. No idea why I played the shot I did and means nothing but I was more comfortable waiting to bat and at the crease.

Fourth game a guest appearance for Staffs 70s against Leicestershire. Bowled OK (facts are that the higher the age group the less help bowlers get from fielders), got my ‘usual’ contribution with the bat but the best news was my fielding with my knees, legs and body in general the best they have been since the injury in week two of season. These games are a good challenge fielding wise. The guys are good company and it’s great that the two teams have a beer together afterwards. Staffs have a decision to make over their 70s as the team is a long way from ready to join the league, but if not now when?

They have a number of options: 1) carry on playing friendlies next year and hope they get more people interested and retain the current players, 2) combine with another county like Derbyshire who are looking to develop a team or 3) enter a team in the league but accept they are always going to field too many under age players and forfeit the points each game. In my opinion: 1) not really viable as can’t play enough games with the other teams being in league until end of July. 2) is very attractive IF you can guarantee putting an eligible team out every game and competing, but bear in mind you don’t have total control of own destiny with a shared team and 3) would be my preferred option as it would keep ownership and control within Staffs County, and if it was the same in every game i.e. null points it would have no adverse effect on the other teams in the league.

Fifth game and the most important game of my season, a Staffs over 60s game against Derbyshire and an opportunity to assess where my game is against established 60s players. It was also a second game in two days so a benchmark for my fitness. Relief then to wake up with no after effects from the day before and my knees less painful in the morning than they have been for years. I do not exaggerate.

Talk about leaving the best for last. Fielded really well. They made 199 and we fell 10 short, but …. batted 3. Was in after 3 balls. Batted 32 overs, scoring 66 (top score in match), putting on 94 with Wayne Morray who captains the 1s. Totally chuffed (and relieved) at how I played. Wind taken out of sales somewhat as it looks like no 59s can play in over 60s next year. Will have to wait and see but will be a blow to my plans and hopes for next year. But for now 66 on official debut and batting for 32 overs is more than I could have hoped for.

Really proud of this! Would have been nice to have seen the side home but personally it was a really rewarding innings proving hard work does pay off and giving me a lot of confidence for next year.

Knees and legs really suffered for a few days though! Mainly muscular and general after effects of having done more in one innings than I had all season running wise (batted for over two hours!) but an indication that the knees are not 100% at all, especially the right knee I damaged at the start of the season. Hopefully nothing that can’t be improved over the winter and be manageable moving forward. The fact they have steadily improved since the match and the general issue isnin both knees gives me hope that the primary issue is that of just getting used to using them more.

In the nets ….. more excellent mutual coaching sessions with Bob. I am enjoying both working on specific areas of my game and helping Bob. A couple of general net sessions with some of the Over 60s. Will take a few weeks off then start winter training with Bob and indoor nets at Edgbaston.

As far as watching cricket I once again avoided going to a 100 game, or even watching a full game on TV. I followed with interest Trent Rockets Woman because of Marie Kelly, an Ambassador for NBCC and a great person , but I do worry that professional cricketers only playing 6 games in August is anywhere enough.

Went to the Oval, watched the rain, had a very long lunch with Simon co-founder of NBCC, drank too many beers with mates, Queen died so second day cancelled so rather than stay in the hotel caught a late train home which was not my best decision as sitting on a packed hot train when drunk is not pleasant!!!

Last two county games at Edgbaston ….. well I say two but first was rain effected the day we were able to go so opted for lunch locally with parents instead. As I write this the plan is to go to all days of the last game but the madness and greed that is cricket means we will have renewed our 2023 membership before the season ends and before the ECB have decided how they intend to mess the game up further AND I will have bought my 2023 Ashes tickets for Edgbaston before the season ends. At least with Yorkshire I can buy them as a 2022 member.

Off the field ….. end of season presentation and awards evenings and players parties popped up like wild flowers. Declined them all. Fundamentally they are just not my thing as I struggle with these type of events. I prefer and can cope with small social events but I avoid parties and large events as much as I can. Fortunately the main ones fell on dates I couldn’t make, and a couple were for teams I don’t quite feel part of.

NBCC is taking up more of my time. I am really pleased with how the first year has gone especially as we only decided on the project in June and the original plan was to launch next year.

As ever, lots of discussions about next year from all teams I spend time with. Has been a bit of an eye opener/memory jog just how much talking cricketers do. All very educational and informative for me, and food for thought certainly. For me it is all somewhat academic as I am way past wanting to do anything other than play, and that depends totally on my fitness and ability so a very simple focus for me. As an observer though there are some big issues needing addressing in and around club cricket but I am not sure there is enough desire to make the changes. To that end I resigned from the committee at Barlaston. Have enjoyed my time on the committee but the issue earlier in season still lingers and makes life awkward and I really just want to concentrate time and energy on playing.

I mentioned last month that I am not naturally comfortable with the hard time many umpires receive. Certainly a few should have been retired some time ago but we struggle often to have two umpires so the taxi rank is not thriving, and having done a couple of the courses I accept it is not an easy role, or necessarily enjoyable. That said I can see the argument that a younger umpire who is still playing provided my each team may be a better option, especially if all players are made to do the Stage One course. I certainly felt this way when I was given out this month caught at slip attempting a rather ambitious slog sweep, from a ball that hit me just above the elbow – I have the photo to prove it!

So another season, my second, completed. I will review it elsewhere but on general I am happy with where my game is and the options I have for next year.

A couple of weeks off then some serious rehabilitation and fitness, and winter nets start at Edgbaston the first week of October.

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