Only Cricket Fogies Will Understand
It happened last year during one of those spring cleaning marathons that plague a man now and again. In the process of moving years of accumulated junk from one corner to another, I found it. Buried beneath a plastic Christmas tree, numerous toys and boxes full of assorted knick knacks was my old cricket bag. Moments later I was on the phone organizing a a session at the local cricket nets. A few moments after that I was racing off to the nearest sporting goods store to replace the items in my kit bag which now resembled the swamp thing – there was enough mould in that bag to guarantee the world wouldn’t run out of penicillin for several years.
So we met at the nets and, as a former opening batsmen, I had the honour of batting first. Waves of nostalgia swept over me as I padded up, strode to the crease and took guard. The bowler, much younger than most of us old timers, raced in and unleashed a thunderbolt. It was full and just inside off stump so I moved onto the front foot and played a majestic off drive.
Then I straightened up, threw the ball back to the bowler and put the middle stump back into the ground.
I obviously wasn’t the batsmen I used to be twenty five years ago.
I had to ease myself back into form. The rest of my batting stint was a master class in the defensive shot. The backward defensive shot, to be precise, because somewhere in the intervening twenty five years the cricket ball had morphed into a deadly weapon. Going forward really wasn’t an option and yet, by the end of my batting stint I felt I could outperform Geoffrey Boycott and Bill Lawry and Chris Tavare. (I think I just went too far. It takes a very special talent to out block Tavare.)
So much for my attempt to rekindle my batting prowess. Surely things would be better with the ball. I picked one out of the motley collection and paced my run-up – sixteen steps. Just like twenty five years ago. Contrary to popular opinion, I am not a complete fool so I knew I should warm up a little. With that in mind I merely jogged the sixteen steps and delivered my first ball. It sailed back over my head.
Young whippersnapper was pretty handy with the bat.
“Good…shot,” I said just a little out of breath. It was a sixteen step jog, after all.
I ran in for my next ball and bowled just that little bit faster. It sailed back over my head just that little bit higher.
“Very (gasp) good (pant, wheeze) shot (pant, pant).”
The young whippersnapper was starting to grate on my nerves. Flying Saucer Jones used to be a pretty handy bowler in the glory days. It was time to show him. I walked back to the top of my mark and summoned up all the energy I could muster. I raced in, eyes firmly on the whippersnapper’s feet. The ball was fast and furious. It swung in late and his stumps ricocheted off the back of the nets. The ball had torn through his defences.
Their were tears in my eyes. I had torn something in my bowling arm.
I obviously wasn’t the bowler I used to be twenty five years ago.
That was a year ago. In a couple of weeks we will do it again. I will dust off my cricket gear, check it for penicillin and head off to the nets.
Even if I’m not the cricketer I used to be twenty five years ago.