When I started writing this blog, I anticipated that I’d share my playing experiences with you but in truth my career has somewhat petered out.
I didn’t take up the game until quite late, about seventeen or eighteen. I had early success with the ball complimented by some steady progress with the bat. Figures of 6-25 would remain a career best but there would be back-to-back four-wicket hauls for the second XI, even if they did straddle two different seasons. Unfortunately, playing for the second XI usually meant that if I bowled one bad over then I didn’t get to turn my arm over again for a whole fortnight. Couple that with batting at ten or eleven, ie: basically not batting for two years or with little to gain when I did and the sum total is that I was ruined as a cricketer. I should stress that I’m talking about the lowest regions of an amateur league in Yorkshire with many many divisions.
When sent back to the third XI, I reinvented myself as a stoic opening batsman and managed to occupy the crease for all of forty overs or more on more than one occasion. Despite being able to find the boundary, there’d be more dots beside my name in the scorebook than your average dot-to-dot. I’d struggle to score at, on average, more than one run per over. An innings of 47 from all of 43.1 overs, last man out having opened and top scored by far was as good as it ever got. Had I actually managed to execute the shot that brought about my dismissal as intended, the ball would have rolled down the hill for four and with it a maiden fifty. A few weeks later in a run-chase, I scored an unusually quickfire 26 in an opening fifty stand before being absurdly caught and bowled, only to get demoted in the order the following week. Soon I’d find myself scheduled to bat at eleven and not bowling, so traipsed off to find another hobby… and some lovely holidays in Scotland and Ireland.
After a couple of years in the wilderness (The actual New Zealand and Australian wilderness), I returned to find that the 2005 Ashes effect had turned division seven into Test match cricket. Kids who had been inspired by England before the death of cricket on terrestrial television and now with a few years honing their skills under their belts were bending it like Beckham (Or Waqar) and nearly taking my ears off!
A few games into my return, I made a defiant 27, taking nearly thirty overs to do so but hinting at being able to contribute like before. I can remember the moment it all went wrong though. A duck curtesy of a gift to slip in the next game and I never recovered. There then followed a few years of being uncomfortable playing only as a batsman. Not bowling meant that I didn’t feel involved and put pressure on myself to perform solely as a batsman. When I should’ve been relaxing I tensed up instead. I’d be dismissed by old men, kids and everything in-between. My defence fell apart and the odd flirty twenty or thirty was the best that I had to offer, usually either side of a month or two of single figure scores and more ducks than at a frois gras farm!
I did improve my Twenty20 game, managing to turn those dots into singles and produced a match-winning 40 not out in a chips down run-chase but with the target attained a long dreamed of half-century remained out of reach and now seems likely to elude me forever.
Whilst amateur cricket stalwarts up and down the land prepare (Or don’t prepare!) for the 2019 village campaign, I just can’t justify all the ducks and DNBs in the hope of finally finding fifty. A wife and two kids deserve a little more attention on a Saturday afternoon. Never say never but my career best seems set in stone frustratingly three runs short of fifty on 47.