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By Chris Marshall
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Cricket Diary: Getting Real

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All started to get real this week: real hot, real cold, real stiff, real sore, real painful, real aches, real pains, but also real smiles, real humour, real good spirit, real welcoming, real relief.

Yes after a rather long (and expensive) winter all the cricket reviews are done, decisions made as to how many bags will be needed ( 3 – Legend for Match Days, GN800 for Net Sessions and Spares, and Kookaburra for match day kit which will include both a floppy sun hat and a club cap!) and decisions deferred as to how to get everyone and their kit into cars as the Government in their wisdom have said that when the season starts we can not share a car to the ground with a team mate, but we could take a taxi driven by someone that we don’t know. I know – real stupid!

Apparently we all have to provide our own teas which will no doubt cause more sleepless nights, but for now who cares as we are actually talking about starting to play cricket – yes it’s getting real.

Week started on Monday (as they often do to be fair) with a nice gentle first net – just the hour’s batting! Wasn’t intend to be like that but circumstances meant we ended up with one batter and three bowlers, which possibly means I batted for longer on Monday that I will the whole of the actual season. Can’t lie. Going into the week it always felt like it was going to be a little like being on trial and it did: although only in my mind as nobody at Penkridge Cricket Club made me feel that way at all – which means they all either real nice or real good actors. The hour went really well (in my view) and I was a tad impressed with myself, not least because I got to face some spin bowling which was something I had yet to do. I had also decided to increase my exercise levels this week so Monday saw me do the usual 4 mile dog walk, some general exercises and stretching and then a run after the hours batting.

Tuesday I woke up with sore and stiff hands and arms but that was all really and I headed off to the Osteopath who has looked after by various injuries since I was 15, and he was a) surprised that I was going to be playing cricket again – he also played at Barlaston Cricket Club back in the day and b) how well the old body was doing!

Wednesday I had half an hour in the nets in the morning, did some exercises and walked the dogs and then batted for 90 minutes in the nets in the evening. The real surprise though was that I bowled both spinners and some gentle seam up (if it’s still called that). Nothing startling or impressive but I landed the majority in areas which made the batters play the ball, so who knows I may well be an all rounder yet!!

Thursday I had the pleasure and joy of attending a Safeguarding and Prevent course all day at the school I am Vice Chair of, but if I thought that was painful it was nothing compared to the first club training session of the year (and my first for 33 years) in the evening, a very cold evening! It was definitely fun and it was certainly painful – soft hands, cold weather, hard ball you can do the maths, but the old body coped reasonably well although fair to say I am a long way off where I need to be really.

Friday I just wanted a day in bed but I managed some exercises, walked the dogs (slowly), batted for half an hour in the evening, bowled for half an hour then went home and numbed myself with whisky.

Saturday I was a little relieved that the net working party time had been changed and I couldn’t make it and I spent the day hobbling round the house and sitting on the Sofa, partly because I was stiff and sore but mainly because I had missed a yorker the night before and it had hit me full on the right instep. Seriously there is no protection at all in the modern cricket shoe. Oh for the days of cricket boots …… by the afternoon things had eased up and I spent some time browsing through Amazon.

Sunday morning the two knee supports and the two elbow supports arrived …………. walked the dogs, did my exercises, had an hour on the indoor bike, batted for half an hour in the nets, bowled for half an hour and headed back home to the sofa very very content with the week.

Cricket is a game of stats so as a rough guide to the week: batted for 4 hours, bowled for 2 hours. I think I was bowled 4 times, LBW probably 3 times, dropped the ball 5 times at practice (caught it 3), missed the stumps with every throw, didn’t misfield once, did about 50 ‘punishment’ press ups, and didn’t stop smiling once.

HUGE thank you to all at Penkridge for making me feel so welcome and indulging this rather bizarre decision I have made.

As for next week ….. you will have to wait and see as that after all is the point of a diary, to record what happens, but suffice to say “more of the same” is planned and there is a rumour of a practise match on Sunday, possibly in the snow if the weather gets much colder!

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