Same Sport, Two Very Different Days!

Posted on August 15, 2011

I am walking around my house today totally rigid after two days of playing cricket to a piss poor standard. If you are alone and not in a position where a colleague might call in the men in white coats, try to tense up every muscle in your body and then try to walk. That is how I feel, my muscles in my calf’s, hamstrings, achilles, arms, stomach, groins, lower back, upper back, buttocks and neck have all ceased up. I feel like I need pumping with WD40 and I am walking like John Wayne after two days on horse back. Cricket is not the genteel summer sport you might imagine, especially when you are nearing forty four with knees that sound like rusty bike in motion.

However, it was an experience all the same, starting with an unexpected call up to join my son in the Oakley first team on Saturday versus Basingstoke. This, you must understand, was not a call up that was based around any discernible talent I possess, but purely down to the fact the I have four limbs and a pulse, holidays and injury had depleted the side, so I was there purely to make up the numbers. When I arrived, I was quite disturbed to see that the other team had two things that have perpetually frightened me ever since I started playing sport at about nine or ten. Pristine kit and West Indians. Whenever I have played sport against anyone of Afro Caribbean descent I have racially stereotyped them by assuming that they will be excellent and it has to be said my judgement has been generally correct and this game was to be no exception.

We fielded first and opening the bat was Leon Nurse, a cricketer, footballer, a jockey and presumably anything else he wanted to be. I have played football against the Nurse family, they have always been good sportsmen and Dean (Nurse) recently entered Wisden (the cricket bible) for bowling no less than ten straight maidens in a match. Leon looked well set to bat for the next three years when suddenly the ball reared up and hit the top of his bat before cracking in to his head, sending him down quicker than a whores drawers as one of our fielders took an easy catch. Being an honest cricketer, Leon would have taken the long walk, but he was bleeding and semi conscious so he couldn’t. I helped him to his feet and led him back to changing room as my team mates quietly celebrated quite literally the first scalp of the day. Fucking Hell, I didn’t like this, I wanted to go home.

The day was just about to get worse, Adam one of our angry and aggressive fast bowlers was building up an alarming head of steam and peppering their batsmen, he was desperate for wickets. Showing impatience, their batsman flashed hard at a delivery and it arrowed towards me about six inches above my head. I wanted to run away, get in my car and drive home to safety, but instead I attempted to catch it only to feel it simply crunch in to my knuckles and drop to the floor. As I frantically shook my hand to ease the agony Adam showed some sympathy by gently saying; “for fuck sake catch the fucking thing…fucking hell….fuck me….for fucks sake.” I took this as him being not too impressed with my rather painful effort, but listen to this…..I DID IT AGAIN. This time it was an absolute dolly that fell through my fingers and rolled down my inner leg on to the floor. Adam’s head was so red that I feared physical attack so I politely reminded him that I was actually doing him a favour by playing, but I suppose dropping catches isn’t a favour really, more of a hindrance.

I spent the the rest of the innings sprinting around the field trying to regain the respect of my team mates and most all my son, who was now considering a name change. I did okay, stopping a couple of fours and singles and making some good throws from the boundary rope, I was reasonably pleased if not a bit tired. We got them out for little over 200 and our openers started smacking fours and sixes all around the ground which was a big relief as I had seen their young bowler practicing in the net and it scared me shitless. Because one of our players was injured and we had a thirteen year old, I was moved up the order to bat number at number nine, but I wouldn’t be required at the rate the batsmen were going. Then suddenly, a collapse took place and from a position of slowly putting my pads on ‘just in case’ the next thing I knew I was walking to crease asking for my Mummy.

As I did so I tried to rotate my shoulder with my bat in my hand and do quick on the spot sprints like proper cricketers do, I even looked up at the sky to check the weather conditions, Sachin Tendulkar does this, it looks really cool. However, the bat nearly flew out of my hand on first rotation and my knee buckled under my first sprint, I was fooling no one. As I took my guard I asked for middle and leg stump rather than just middle stump in another attempt to show I meant business and this appeared to do the trick because their South African/Afrikaans wicket keeper immediately offered the bowler the following encouragement; “Come on, let’s get this guy out, he doesn’t know what he is doing.” Not being one to back away from an acid tongue match, I informed him that if this guy couldn’t me out he must be shit……oh no the game was up, I had admitted being shit, me and my big mouth! About a millisecond later the ball thudded in to my stomach, bringing vomit up to my tonsil region as I dropped the bat and bent over pretending to do up my laces. Still, at least I had avoided a golden duck.

The next ball was aimed around somewhere towards my neck region and which I protected with my bat and it flew off to the boundary for four, much to the amusement of my new friend behind the stumps who was now suffering from Tourettes syndrome. I can’t remember much after that, but I did manage to score another three runs before having my stumps splayed all over the shop by a yorker. I did not however, get the applause that I felt my undoubted bravery warranted, most people were either in the bar or had gone home, such was their belief in me retrieving the game. I am not an ambitious man and leaving the field with seven runs to my name had surpassed my wildest expectations, I had gone out there with the soul purpose of not spending the night in the Basingstoke fracture clinic, so as far as I was concerned this was mission accomplished.

I played Sunday cricket yesterday, I scored 12 (not bad for me) bowled two overs for 13 runs (again, not bad for me) took a catch and even ran someone out, it was far more suited to my ability and the opposing players were quite pleasant, especially considering we won. I played with my 15 year old son on both days, he is a proper player, a fearsome bowler who the opposition asked to be removed yesterday to “make a game of it ” after he blitzed out both openers in the first over. In an odd way that made me quite proud and we did take him off because it was decent thing to do, which shows there is a big chasm between competitive Saturday cricket and Sunday friendlies where you can laugh at dropped catches, multiple wides, no balls and caveman batting. That is the place for me, that’s for sure, a place where you can make a tit of yourself amongst others doing the same, often with great hilarity.

My friend Tony Lydeard, a 64 year old with ability beyond my wildest dreams, was quite rightly bursting with pride today when he informed me he had shared a match winning century stand with his son Joe on Saturday, what a great memory to have, you can’t take that away. Whilst I am at the crease my son will not be in a century partnership, ten would be good, however, now he is playing with the big tough boys I hope he doesn’t give up playing in the same crap Sunday team as me, because that’s part of it all really, playing with him, it is great fun. I can’t think of anything better than spending a sunny Sunday than playing cricket, but bizarrely, I can’t think of anything worse than spending a Saturday getting peppered by a hard lump of leather and getting roundly abused by both teams for my lack of talent.

I wonder why that is?

1 Reply to "Same Sport, Two Very Different Days!"

  • Paul
    August 15, 2011 (9:13 pm)

    Makes me wish I was fit to play on Sunday reading this, great stuff!

    Although umpiring for the 2nds made me in fear of my life for a few moments, as the batsman after being run out in the most cruel of ways (bowler deflects hard driven ball onto the stumps, with non-striker batsman out of his ground) didn't believe I was watching as I was getting out of the way for self preservation, but I saw enough. The guy was a man mountain, who even made me feel small. However, he brought himself back under control and walked off. Even his team mate at square leg umpire said he was clearly out. But I was concerned enough to have had thoughts of limping very quickly to the car park for safety blaze into my mind, then were quickly extinguished, as I realised I'd still be in reach of his Mongoose bat (didn't realise people actually used them), as he'd move faster than me. Give me a big fast West Indian bowler to face anyday, at least I could use a helmet and plenty of protection then, not done as an umpire :O)

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