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Cricket Diary: Sledging, Jugs & Fines

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As I said last week I took the opportunity to have a short mid season break (not the best term in hindsight) this week so I have spent the majority of the week watching: bruises fade, swelling reduce and Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Sri Lanka try and emulate the 4s! Oh yes, I also had a week of pretty pain free walking up and down the stairs!

Fair to say I have done a lot of stretching this week which is paying off (honestly) but is hard work. I once had a Thai Massage that was one of the most painful experiences of my life, and I was really fit at the time. I shudder to think what it would be like now, but it is something I plan on finding out at the end of the season. I am also going to find a Yoga Instructor so if there are any recommendations please pass them on.

Anyway back to the week that was …..

Watched the two ODI’s v Sri Lanka from the comfort of the sofa, and the two Bears T20’s (Yorkshire and Nottingham) from the comfort of the Members Lounge at Edgbaston. The former where solitary affairs, the later shared with Sands and some excellent company. Truth be told none of the cricket was that good, although the view from the Members Lounge highlights just how much movement takes place when a team is fielding: walking in as the bowler balls, running into position between overs, backing up, relaying the ball back to the bowler, adjusting to the pace of the bowler and the batters preferred shots.

Also clearly demonstrated is the part angles play in the game, combined with the pace of the ball, which not only determines fielding positions but the range of scoring shots and as a result you rarely see a scrambled single other than when there is a run chase. Cricket played well is often sedate and predictable with a certain inevitability which is all the result of careful planning and skilful execution. I know I said all this last week as well, but it is worth repeating and repeating and ….

It is not achieved without hard work of course as evidenced by the drills and routines the players go through before a game.

Watching this week I was struck (or more accurately reminded) that in cricket, as with many sports, watching the ball (at all times) and keeping your head still are vitally important. This is something I need to remember and work on.

And finally as far as watching stuff this week is concerned I watched quite a lot of the Ladies Cricket for the first time and whilst I find the lack of power and explosiveness makes it less entertaining if you want to study technique and the nuances of the game it is excellent.

With time to kill this week I spent more time packing and repacking my ‘kit bag’ to the point where I think I should design my own. You may recall my concern in a previous post with how much ‘stuff’ was needed these days – OK not exactly needed (but don’t tell Sands) – and I am somewhat delighted to announce that I am down to a ‘one bag’ strategy now so long as you don’t include by food bag! This has not been an easy achievement as I like to keep my equipment (quiet at the back) in one compartment, my clothing in another, and my various other bits and bobs in their own places. Of course I now risk a hernia getting the bag in and out of the car and if we ever play a game on a pitch at the top of a hill I have no chance, but for now I think I have it sorted.

Before I get to this weeks game I want to touch on a few things that seem to have disappeared or at least changed since I played. COVID-19 continues to effect the games a lot, notably the lack of changing rooms and no mixing over tea, and the Development nature of the 4s has an inevitable effect on some of the traditions but I am a little confused and indeed saddened at some of the changes, but on the other hand pleased to see some still remain:

Jugs: have yet to have the privilege but it was good to see Tom (7 wickets), Scooby (100) and Liam (50) get a jug in over the last couple of weeks. Well I say jug and to be fair there were a couple, but the modern way is more a ’round of drinks’. Maybe this is because back in the day it was “Ale or Air” but the fact that the tradition continues is what matters.

Fines: appear to have disappeared? We used to have them at Under 19 level (which I played from 13 onwards as where no other junior levels) and First and Second Teams (sorry 1s and 2s). As a 13 year old playing in the 2s with the adults I was not spared at all: dropped catches, miss fields, ducks, being late, dirty kit and missing training or trying to avoiding fielding practise.

Sledging: just isn’t what it used to be. It was certainly a ‘key’ tool in the fielding sides kit bag back then, but used rarely, at the right time and with the right amount of humour and relevance I don’t recall it being personal or non stop. Truth be told it was an art form, usually left to a couple of old boys who would not have been out of place on a stage together. I have played in a game this season where an opposing team where far too intimidating to a number of the younger players and whilst the senior playing stepping in was wrong, it was understandable. I have been on the receiving end of some funny and relevant sledging the year (after all I am old) generally from the older members of the opposition (and from time to time my own team mates) and I have no issue with this. On the whole though it seems to be less sledging and more a low level muttering with a more personal bias, and the one thing to remember about sledging is that it is likely to motivate the batter as it is to goad them into an error.

And so to the weekend, or in my case Saturday as I only played the one game. The game itself followed a somewhat predictable and frustrating pattern as both collectively and in my case individually we failed to do ourselves justice.

We were lucky initially with the weather and indeed we had a drink break every 15 overs such was the humidity, but after 36 overs the heavens opened and it was agreed that the opposition would end their innings. As they were 196 for 5 we had hardly shone with the ball or in the field. You couldn’t say we bowled or fielded badly at all, but I don’t think we could say we bowled or fielded as well as we can. Once again I took a couple of blows to my little finger, the first of which I heard it crack again, the second one just numbed the whole hand.

The good news is Amazon do all sorts of finger splints and pain killing sprays, the not so good news is that it is going to require fixing at the end of the season, but as it has been broken so many times before I will be a brave little soldier and carry on.

As for my batting, having said last week that I seemed to be getting myself out more than being got out I guess I should at least be happy that I reversed that trend this week, although 5 from 20 odd balls before being bowled by one that didn’t bounce more than 2 inches is hardly the stuff of legend. More thimble than jug to be sure.

The swelling has gone down a lot but still far from mended and sods law means that pretty much every game I take another blow on it whilst fielding.

Total immobilisation for a month is required, but that isn’t going to happen so will be stuck with this when not in nets or playing and end of season they can have a go at fixing it.

WG Grace proving that it is possible to play across your front pad and score runs, just not for all of us! And before you comment (Scooby) no I did not play with or indeed coach him!

Thank You

Gray-Nicolls are generously supporting this diary and my return to cricket for the 2021 Season.

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