Will I End Up Playing Bowls?

Posted on May 19, 2015

Make no bones about it, my moderate sporting prowess is beginning its descent into obscurity and whilst at times it can be a source of great entertainment on social media, it does make me miserable as well.

To say my start to the cricket season has been a desperate one, is an understatement, and with scores of 3, 2 (NOT OUT) 0 and 4, my average stands at paltry 3. I took a break on Saturday, choosing to watch instead as I tried to place my mental state back on the drawing board for some vital analysis before returning to the crease on Sunday.

When Sunday came and I walked to the crease, I felt like I had stiffened my resolve and organised my mind to the extent that I would at last be able to plunder some runs against bowling that can politely be described as mediocre, featuring all the aggression of a Ginsters pork pie bouncing off a pitch made up of a sponge cake.

The first few balls I faced were lacklustre in pace but straight, so I calmly eradicated any room for catastrophe by flat batting them back to the bowler in a tedious and turgid manner that would have had an ecstatic Geoff Boycott emanating saliva from his mouth, down his chin, and on to his Yorkshire Cricket Club members tie.

My controlled thought process was based upon the theory that sooner or later, a ball would arrive that even I could hit for the runs needed to commence what would ultimately be an epic innings. It did as well, a short wide one sat up and I kid you not, I PUMPED it back past the bowler and a diving fielder before watching it fizz to the boundary…wow that felt good.

My son, George, batting at the other end, strolled up to me and punched my glove…“Shot mate, keep it going.” I had never heard him, or anyone else for that matter, say those words and I think it may have been my first ever congratulatory punch on the glove as well. It was a moment captured in time when I felt like a cricketer, but not a moment to dwell on, I needed to capitalise.

I composed myself and went back into Boycott mode for the next two balls but as the third came towards me, short but straight, my brain went something like this….“Defend, defend, defend….SMASH IT OVER THE FENCE!!!!


A recent attempt at a controlled cricket shot

I have smashed a ball over a fence once, off the bowling of 9 year old girl at St Mary Bourne, so what makes me think I can do it on a regular basis, I do not know. My ugly cross bat hack resembled a windmill in a Force 9 and would have seen Boycott’s saliva drowned out by vomit. My bat’s resultant assault on thin air, tragically allowed leather to hit pad rather than willow.

The resultant appeal was so pathetic in nature I thought I might get away with it, but Deano our player and umpire employed by Oakley to relieve the village from their idiot every Sunday, correctly raised his finger to the grey skies above. My attempt at being obdurate was over for another week and my increasingly expectant Facebook followers were, once again, greeted with the news that my maiden 50 had been delayed for a further week or perhaps, eternity.

This experience has had me, temporarily at least, wondering what it’s all about, the feeling of weekly hope, followed by the now obligatory despair. With my advancing years and creaking knees, is it time to just concentrate on being the Chairman and face facts by accepting that I have neither the talent or concentration span required to reach a landmark fifty? In fact, reaching double figures looks like a distant dream right now.

The problem is that I have always played sport, mastering the technique of being the Jack of all of them but the master of none. Football, tennis, badminton, golf, table tennis, I’ve been reasonably good at all of them before getting bored after reaching a certain level. I even tried rugby for a while but I just didn’t take to ramming my head up the anus or into the sweating armpit of another man before going for a night out with my team-mates that would result in a forfeit if I didn’t drink a pint of vomit with a lit firework rammed into my rectum.

Golf was the one sport I really did get good at but in the end it just wasn’t for me and when I saw some Scottish bloke in my local pub practising his swing whilst adorning a yellow Pringle and Farrah slacks, I eradicated any chance of ever becoming him by consigning my golf clubs to a sad and lonely existence in the garden shed. This terminated what was once a close, albeit sporadically tempestuous relationship, where I am ashamed to admit, there was occasional violence.

The head of the five iron missing from my bag, remains embedded into the base of a tree among the rolling fairways of Test Valley Golf Club, as do my memories.

So, if I was to end my cricket career as a failure in what is, ultimately, my favourite sport, what on earth would I do?

I do buy things to entertain myself and distract my mind and only last Saturday, whilst not playing cricket, I spoilt myself by purchasing a pair of duck feather pillows and a Tefal non-stick frying pan. As an example of how tragic life can be without sport, I did find myself temporarily entertained and in a heady state of admiration as I witnessed two fried eggs sliding across the pan as if they were impersonating Torville & Dean executing the Bolero.

However, one cannot gain pleasure from the slick moves of a pair of fried eggs forever, so I have also invested in Spotify and yesterday, I purchased my first ever iBook, Dominion, by CJ Sampson. It is a great read that I was about to  describe as a ‘page turner’ but on an iPad, you can’t turn pages and on reflection, when people describe a book as a ‘page turner’ it is surely the least you would expect isn’t it?

“I have just purchased a new book by C J Sampson.”

“Really, is it any good?”

“I don’t know… I can’t turn the bloody pages.”

With an iPad, the issue of buying a book where you can’t turn the pages is resolved, as all you have to do is flick your finger across the screen. As a bonus you can have the letters as big as you want which in my case, such is my eyesight, works out about three sentences per finger flick.

Such is modern technology, I can read my iBook whilst listening to all my favourite songs on Spotify, a music player that at £9.95 a month, allows me to listen to just about anything ever put on to vinyl or CD. It is so impressive that you can even make up your own radio station by selecting a favourite song or band and allowing it to allegedly find a similar genre of music that you may or may not have heard before.

Sometimes the results that can come out of these selected stations can appear somewhat bizarre and when I chose ‘Thinking of You’ by the Colourfield the other day, it was followed by Zigue Zigue Sputnik then Love Plus One by Haircut 100. What was even more bizarre than the playlist is that somewhere, stored in the back of my brain, were all the lyrics to Love Plus One which, without ever recalling a taste for that band, I seemed to know off by heart.

It was a strange to discovery to say the least, I must have spent the last thirty-five years in Haircut 100 denial, with all those lyrics compartmentalised in the back of my mind like a dark secret. I am now concerned that in my dark secret corner, next to Haircut 100, sits the memory of a visit by Jimmy Savile when I was getting treated for a head injury in the Basingstoke Hospital children’s ward.

So, I do all these things to keep my brain ticking over but I need sport, I need the test of character it offers and the infinite opportunities to improve or overcome previous failings. The problem is that after years of pounding my knees playing football and racquet sports or ripping my back swinging at golf and cricket balls, I am beginning to feel it, especially in my knees. I may have to face facts and accept that I will never score a 50.

And what if I did? What would happen…would I feel emptiness after eventually achieving a dream that stretches back across my last decade at Oakley Cricket Club? I will probably never know and even though I may not have of dreamt it as a child, I am beginning to wonder if bowls is the only way forward.

Must go, I have to put my order into the Sunday Express…three pairs of elasticated nylon slacks for just £19.95.

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1 Reply to "Will I End Up Playing Bowls?"

  • Becky
    May 26, 2015 (4:40 pm)

    So funny …

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