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By Chris Marshall
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Season Two: Reflections

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Time for some post season reflections again, a season which in many ways mirrored last season, my first playing again after 33 year break between innings.

Next Season then, what are my thoughts and plans? Given the situation with my parents my priority is to play on a Sunday at Barlaston as they can come and watch (home and away) and it also gives them an opportunity to see old friends. I can call and see them before or after if required. I would prefer to bat mid order and bowl each week, not least because I aim to get into the Senior County set up and it would be useful to be able to bat and bowl. To that end I would also like to play some Saturday Cricket next year, but I will not be able to commit to that as a) not sure my body will cope with too many two game weekends and b) I need to keep time free for family. On Sunday’s my objective is to post a couple of 50’s, maybe ‘go big’ once and average late 20s/early 30s.

Let’s start with some numbers then: for Barlaston I had a poor season averaging only 12.11. I managed a top score of 57* so ticked one box in terms of a 50, but I only batted 11 times, a result of injury, my issue with the skipper of the 4s and moving up to the 3s on a Sunday where I failed to make an impression. Away from Barlaston in various friendlies and charity games (not on Play Cricket) I averaged 33.4 with a top score of 66, again ticking a box for a couple of 50’s and getting close to the low end of my target average with a season average of 19.7. My catching remained good with a total of 10 catches and I reckon 2 drops – with a few missed chances which I think were at best 50/50 – and my bowling really improved (hard for it not to) although again it was mostly recorded away from Play Cricket. I took 15 wickets in all, took at least one wicket every time I bowled, had a 4fer and 2 3fers. The main thing with my bowling is that I was consistent, bowled 8 over in a row several times, and it had no adverse effect on my body so moving forward I am looking forward to developing it more.

My batting was much better this year. May not seem it as I succumbed to my old habit of planting my leg several times early season, and three times I was out chasing last ditch runs. Once I moved my guard to leg stump, stayed stiller at the crease, and used a dip in knees and a double pump of hands to get bat higher my scores and confidence at the crease improved. I started with a fourth ball duck batting at 7 with 4 required to win, and ended with a 34 over, 2+ hour 66 batting at 3 for Staffs 60s chasing 199. Says it all really.

My fielding was much improved although seriously hampered by the knee ligament injury which not only affected my ability to play, but meant I couldn’t train or practice all season so the end result is I was carrying far too much weight and wasn’t fit enough again this season. Still the last 3 or 4 games I started to see what I was capable of, and certainly in the Over 60s I will be more than able to hold my own if I can get a good off season under the (expanding) belt!

Off the field I struggled with what I was being asked to do in the 4s – basically field – and had enough of been told that I couldn’t bowl, couldn’t run and couldn’t catch. May have been banter but always helps to look in a mirror before criticising and the simple fact was that the amount of effort and preparation I was doing did not warrant 3 hours in the field and then batting 9. I may have burnt my bridges but I communicated through the right channels and to be honest I am far too old and have too few cricketing years left to worry.

Barlaston is a good club and my history with it means I will always want to play for them. I have to be realistic though as they are 45 mins drive away so is not really feasible to attend nets or social events, and whilst many don’t that is an issue I am grappling with as I feel I should. I am also far from certain what my own cricket will entail next year (see below) so I recently came off the committee as I need all my time and energy for playing next year and developing No Boundaries Cricket Club and I will just winter well (hopefully) attend their indoor nets in March and see where that takes us. I think I am good enough to contribute to their Saturday 2s (who were relegated this year) or Sunday 3s but it will depend on their plans for these teams and my own plans with Staffordshire Seniors.

Staffordshire Seniors whilst frustrating that I couldn’t play for the Over 60’s (too young) and injured so not really available for the Over 50s (I played one game and was asked to play more) has been a great success this year. It is certainly better playing ‘age group’ cricket and my performances have been good enough. I have really enjoyed the nets and coaching a few of us have been doing and am looking forward to training with a few of the lads over the winter. If I was writing this two weeks ago I would have been looking forward to playing Tuesdays next season for the Over 60s (and hopefully Barlaston on a Saturday), but last week I was told that players would have to be 60 to play next year (I was due to be eligible as the one permitted 59 year old) so I am waiting to see if that is the case. If so I will have to see if I can play for the Over 50’s (the general view is that I would be good enough for the 2s) but as they play on a Wednesday it would mean I could play on a Sunday for Barlaston but probably not on a Thursday to help out the 70s team, although if they join the league this year and opt not to field any under age players then that wont be an option.

As you can see all pretty much up in the air, but what will be will be and all I can do is concentrate on my fitness and own game.

I didn’t manage any T20 games this year which was probably a good thing with my knee and general fitness but I am keen to play some next year either through No Boundaries Cricket Club, the XL Club or maybe I can persuade Staffs Cricket to set up some games to give us oldies that aren’t really getting much of a game at a weekend a run around. May sound mad because of the frantic nature of T20 but I reckon it would be a good way of developing a faster run rate and bowling to keep a run rate down.

And finally – I was a good boy as far as kit goes and other than a few bats I picked up and have refurbished to sell I haven’t added to my own kit, which still remains embarrassingly new and excessive!

So that’s it for Season Two. My plan was always to take two seasons and in many ways I am on track. I am not as fit as I need to be and I have another injury to rehab, but I have proved I can bat, bowl and field well enough. My body has in fact got a lot stronger and used to the demands of fielding so my my mobility, flexibility and throwing are much better and will hopefully improve over the winter.


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