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By Chris Marshall
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Season Two: I have a plan

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I have a plan, well several actually, for Season Two and they involve wearing tights!

I think that anyone reading the diary last year will have worked out that it was a conflicting season for me, my first back playing cricket after a 33 year break, at the age of 57: my head was telling me that it was a ‘sighter’ year to figure out what I was capable of and what realistically I could aim for in the future, my heart was telling me I was still 18 and capable of all kinds of heroics!

I write this following a much needed week off from nets and post season training, the day before the first outdoor club nets of the season (and selection) and six (6) days before our first game – if selected. Unfortunately we have had no pre season games which I am a little concerned over as it means I go into the fist game unsure as to how the body will feel, or with some experience of batting on grass not indoors.

It will be thirty (30) weeks since my last game which has to be an improvement on 33 years and I am a lot better prepared, although I had underestimated just how unfit I had become so while I have made significant improvements over the winter I would say I am probably only about 75% of where I think I can be, and indeed need to be.

Physically I am in much better shape.

Technically I feel I am in much better shape with both my batting and bowling. To be fair bowling was pretty much a non event last year which I understand, but this year I really want to get a bowl most games.

With my batting I have worked hard on posture, stance, grip, trigger, shape and head position. Of course it all sets me up for the inevitable first baller, and without doubt the biggest challenge is going to be translating net form into the middle.

Which brings me to the mental side of my game. Last year I was scrambled: how to approach batting as a 57 year old, how to set up with the restraints my body imposes, how to score runs, how to open (which I dislike and am not naturally suited to), how to physically get through the game.

This year I am hopefully better prepared. I know my body and limitations better. I have worked physically on being able to get through a game better. I have settled in my own mind how I can contribute best to the team (Bat 5 or 6, Bowl 4 to 6 Overs, Start fielding at slip, move to short mid wicket/cover, see out the last overs on the boundary in catching position), and most importantly what I think would constitute a good contribution.

As mentioned before I have a number of plans for the year.

Nets: I have a clear and specific strategy for how I will approach the two nets sessions each week, the Tuesday Seniors and the Thursday Development that I am going to run.

Fitness: I have been working on a fitness program for the season that is based on rubber and fabric bands, swimming, stretching, core and bike to limit the weight bearing activities. I will be working the dogs 4 times a week (c 20 miles) and will do a little running on a Thursday night but I really do have to protect my knees.

Pre Game: I have a routine planned based around a warm up on the bike and some stretching.

Mid Game: I will be using the rubber and fabric bands to keep my lower back mobile and will be walking the boundary more to keep the knees moving

Post Game: a combination of stretching, ice and massage gun will hopefully aid my recovery.

TIGHTS: I have spent the winter training in compression leggings and they have helped the old knees a lot. They are not the most flattering attire above the waist for sure, but the support they give my knees and groins are worth the ridicule. Last year I wore knee supports but they were too restrictive so I am not planning on wearing any when batting and a much thinner pair when fielding just to provide some padding for the knee caps when I have to kneel down.

Body Care: my little finger is still an issue but it does bend fully and isn’t too painful. The main issue is the ligament and joint where the finger meets the hand so it will need taping up when I field. I will probably bat in inner gloves just for some extra support and because I have got used to the over the winter in the nets. I have worked out a pretty specific way of taping the finger involving a gel finger support and padded plaster so hopefully it will work.

Contacts: I tended to bat in my vari-focal lenses last season but found over the winter that my single (short sighted) focus lenses were better.

Diet: An area I didn’t get right at all last year. I sort of skipped lunch, found it difficult to eat at the tea break if I was opening the batting so struggled with energy and then to make it worse post game I would have a couple of Shandys (driving) and crisps! I have a (hopefully) better plan this year with a two stage breakfast, a high energy pre game snack, a balanced light ‘tea’ and a post game energy boost that is healthier than beer and crisps (what isn’t though!). To be fair I hardly drink these day, but I will be pretty much tea total during the season (apart from when I am actually watching cricket!)

Games & Teams: I was far too optimistic as to how much cricket I could play last year so this year my focus will be on playing on a Sunday. I will be playing for Barlaston and when available a wandering BBC side based in Warwickshire who who also play on a Sunday. It would be good to play a mid week game and I have been netting with Staffs Seniors but I am not eligible for the Over 60’s who play on a Tuesday and not good enough for the Over 50’s who play on a Wednesday so I think mid week games will have to wait until next year, when hopefully I will be fitter and have improved my game. I am looking forward to playing cricket in a team of a similar age but there is not much I can do about it this year. I think the combination of BCC and BBC will give me around 16 games this season if selected which doesn’t seem many, but I realise is probably for the best – my cricket future is more marathon than sprint! Who nows I may get the odd game on a Saturday at BCC or a Wednesday with Staffs but that will be based on their availability rather than my ability.

And finally ….. Kit. I still have far too much (having added to it over the winter) and in a somewhat sad way it did play on my mind last year. Not this year though!!! As you will know by now (even if this is the first article of mine you have ever read), I do like a plan!!!

  • Match Days: I will be using my Masuri Equipment, supplemented by by Williamson-Boucher bat. Bat wise the Masuri is lighter and has a scuff sheet (wet weather) and the Williamson-Boucher is heavier and no scuff sheet, dry days. I have a couple pairs of Masuri Pads and Gloves (well 3 pairs) so again the older ones will be used when the weather is wet.
  • Nets: I will be using my Gray-Nicolls Bat, Pads and Gloves. All very traditional!
  • Coloured Kit: I have a few charity games I am scheduled to play which will give the funky black pads and coloured shoes and gloves an airing and the ‘spare’ Gray-Nicolls Bat that I seem to have retained.

So there you have it. This week (because I am anal when it comes to preparation) I have started my weekly schedule that I will stick to during the season:

  • Dog Walk: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
  • Gym: Monday and Friday (Swimming and Sauna)
  • Nets: Tuesday and Thursday
  • Driving Range: Thursday (primarily to keep back mobile but I hope to get a few rounds in over the summer)
  • Core & Stretching: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • Bike: Monday (Recovery) and Sunday (warm Up)

We recently moved back to our Spanish based eating pattern: Breakfast 10am, Lunch 3pm (main meal), Dinner 9pm (snack) and I am trying not to snack in between!

Think it fair to say I am as prepared as I could be. This season will be another learning season primarily. I will hopefully learn more about my game and my body so that next winter I can work hard again ready for a season based on a weekend and weekday game.


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