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By Chris Marshall
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Cricket Nets: End Of Indoor Nets

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Well my off season is officially over! After 51 indoor nets, 36,600 sit ups, 880.5km on the indoor bike, 312m with the dogs, 26 cricket ‘runs’, 10 outdoor cricket training sessions,146 sessions stretching, and 11 sessions with the Sports Therapist I am as close to being ready as I’ll ever be and it is now time for a ten (10) day break to rest and let the body recover and then I have three pre season games scheduled which will hopefully give me an indication of how my body is and let me decide on what I will be able to commit to cricket wise this year.

I have to thank Edgbaston, Warwickshire, Milford Hall, The Birmingham Unicorns and Staffordshire Cricket for the nets: by my rough calculation around 14 hours of batting and 70 hours of bowling which is a lot, especially when you consider that I am not really expecting to bowl this year (an inherent ‘fault’ with the current/traditional net structure and something I intend to address next winter). My knees in particular have had enough of some of the harder indoor surfaces!

As for the season ahead I am not really planning on any nets! I will have a few throw downs on grass but I need to get away from the pace and bounce of the nets now and concentrate more on fielding and general fitness (I have written before about my theory that a weekly T20 would be more beneficial than a net and I have a hand full already scheduled).

Time will tell how fit and able I am! Compared to how I ended last season I am in so much fitter and stronger, but life becomes more relative as you get older. I reckon that the best I could hope for these days is about 80% fitness and against that I think I am about 75% there so is still quite a way to go. Not going to be able to do anything more now though so the priority is to ‘get through’ this season and then have a full winter training with hopefully no rehab!

As far as my playing goes it is a little frustrating that I am not really any closer to having a plan! My priority remains Staffordshire Cricket which will be played on a Tuesday. As I will be playing for the Over 60s as there one under age (59) player I am at best third on the rank at the moment. One 59 year old who played last year is 60 in May, three games, whilst another who is still playing 50’s turns 60 in June. It is right and proper (they are better than me) that they are selected for the First and Second teams, so I am resigned to not being selected until the fourth game which is May 16th.

I do not feel that it is appropriate or fair to commit to a full club season until I know how my body holds up, so I have had to tell Barlaston CC that I will not be playing for them. Not only would it not be fair on them to keep not being available, but I have to be realistic about my chances of playing on a Saturday for them, and consider my parents who still enjoy watching their little boy play!

This still leaves me with a question mark as to where I may play club cricket this season and when. As things stand I can’t see me being available until 27th May (I am at Edgbaston T20 Opening Day on 20th), which is the Catch 22 – will I have played enough cricket to a) know how the body is holding up and b) have any kind of form?

I do have pre season games scheduled for 14th, 16th and 19th of April (was 18th, may still be!) which will give me some indication regards body and it would be no bad thing to then have a rest I suspect. The XL club have a couple of games that I could play if selected and one of the charity teams I have agreed to help out this year have a couple of games during that period that I could play in if required, but nothing I can do about those other than wait and see.

The thing is though I am extremely relaxed as to what happens. I have played the last two seasons with injuries and I know I can’t do that again. This winter has not only improved my body a lot is has given me a lot of confidence as to how good it could be and in all honesty not playing at all this season and just training and practising and getting fit is hugely attractive as I want to play for at least 10 more years!!

Between No Boundaries, XL Club, Charity Teams and Staffordshire friendlies I have upwards of 30 games that I could potentially play so if play in those and not club cricket and have time to work on my fitness I would be more than happy.

So whatever happens I am ready, relaxed and looking forward to the season – however it works out!


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