Sunday, 31 January 2010

Back in the saddle

And so, for the first time in nearly ten years, I finally swung a bat in anger this afternoon. The occasion was Stafford Cricket Club's first nets of the year at Blessed William Howard's School (hereafter known as Blessed Bill's).

I turned up not quite knowing what to expect, but the natives seemed friendly and I contented myself observing what was going on for the first hour. I spoke to the team secretary,  the 1st XI captain (who I'd already met), and also had a little chat with Joe, the captain of the 4th XI, who I'll hopefully see much more of as the season progresses. I didn't dare bowl though, as I didn't want to waste anyone's time with the rubbish I'd produce at this early stage. Maybe next time.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Thinking about my batting

As I've already set out, I haven't played cricket since leaving school nine years ago, and back then my batting was pretty one-dimensional. If it's on target I block, if not I leave. Block or leave. Occasionally duck, but that counts as a leave.

Now I don't have any shame about how I batted at school. I was in the team for my ability with the scorebook rather than the bat, so when it came to my turn to pad up no-one was expecting anything. However, if I'm going to expect a team to let me play with them, sooner or later they're going to expect me to show up on the score sheet with a respectable number next to my name. Fair's fair after all. I'm not a wicket-keeper and can't bowl for toffee so I'm going to have to justify my place through solid batting and above all RUNS. For is it not written in A Boy's Own Book of Outdoor Sports that:
"The score is the real criterion of a batsman, and if he be not competent to make runs, however difficult it may be to get his wicket, I must at once pronounce him no cricketer - mere poking around the block-hole is not cricket - it is a mere waste of time."
Well that's me told.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The divine art of the wrist spinner

Since my Girlfriend planted the idea in my head of playing cricket it's been at or close to the the forefront of my mind, and the more I think about it the more I want to be able to bowl a bit. After all, declarations aside no Test Match in history has ever been won by a team that didn't get 10 wickets in an innings, so I've never subscribed to the view that cricket is a batsman's game. In fact, I usually find that I enjoy following a match more during the opposition's innings than during my own team's - and wickets are much more exciting and important events than boundaries. Also, If I've got the ability to bowl an over or two and maybe pick up the odd wicket it will help me stay in the team when my batting takes a dip.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

A trip to the physio

Last week my left shoulder began to hurt terribly. It hurt like ****, and it stopped me getting to sleep. Yesterday I took a trip to a physio for the first time in my life, and she essentially told me (not that I was surprised) that virtually my entire torso and spine was all to cock after many years of bad posture. She gave the offending shoulder a deep massage with an ultrasound thingamajig, before giving my entire upper body and neck a thorough massage. The shoulder is so much better, and the rest of my upper body feels better than it ever has. £45 well spent.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Kitting up

The other day I spotted that the local branch of Sports Direct had a sale on various bits of cricket gear, so I've been on a bit of a spree to get as many bargains as I could. I bought one of every item they had in stock in a men's size, consisting of batting gloves, glove inners, thigh pads, box and boxer shorts. Then I had a look on their website and since they seemed to be flogging stuff cheap there as well I've ordered pads, trousers, shirts and jumpers as well as a dozen balls in various colours, and I've also ordered some shoes and a bag from other sites. My total outlay's rapidly heading towards £300 (and that's before I buy a bat), so if I didn't already have an incentive to make the most of this cricket thing I've got one now!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Choose your weapon

So if I'm going to play cricket, I guess I'll need a bat...

Usually when playing sport at school it was my practice to ensure that all my kit was of a reasonably decent standard, so that whatever else happened I was never blaming my tools. Looks like cricket may have been the exception...

I seem to remember when I was at school that I was partial to Gray Nicolls bats. Perhaps the thinking was that I needed a light bat as I was a bit of a Mr Muscle Ad type, and since they scooped bits out they must have had the lightest bats. I remember owning a Gray Nicolls Scoop and later a Scoop 2000, but crucially, these were both cheap, kashmir willow bats with cloth covering the whole thing so you didn't know what a hunk of junk you were buying.

Now I know better. Now I know what I need is an English willow blade with a Sarawak cane handle.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Objective one completed!!!

I've just had an email back from the Secretary of my local cricket club, and it looks like I'll be playing cricket this summer!!! I'm so excited!!! It's a genuine three-exclamation-mark moment!!!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Setting targets

So as I set off on my journey of exploration into cricket proper, perhaps I ought to give some thought as to what it is I want to achieve.

Obviously first and foremost, if I am to get anywhere, I need to find a team and get into it. I'm told most of the teams round and about are often short of players, so hopefully this shouldn't be too difficult. I don't care about my position within the team, or the mediocrity of the league the team plays in, I just want to PLAY. Any team, anywhere.

Friday, 15 January 2010

How not to bat

One of the great frustrations for me in following the England cricket team is that while I know what's going on, I can't actually see what's happening because I don't pay Murdoch his filthy lucre. More on this subject and the lunacy of the ECB later... For now though, I've just seen the highlights from the morning and afternoon sessions of yesterday's play at the Wanderers, and frankly I wasn't impressed.

I don't think Cook, Collingwood and Bell have too much share of the blame, but as for the rest... Well the shot selection was just woeful. I've exonerated the three I just mentioned because largely they were out to good balls and in each case they were trying to defend.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The birth of a cricket fan

I have been interested in cricket for as long as I can remember. At my first school a really nice feature was a net set up on the front lawn in summer where anyone, literally anyone, could queue up and have a go at bowling to the school's most promising batsmen. The headmaster was one of those characterful cricket types that any cricket bod can relate to - full of experience and anecdotes on how to play the game, but most of all, oozing a deep love of the game that was utterly infectious.

Sadly he never got round to telling me that I should perhaps abandon my fantastically over-ambitious bowling style, which involved a Malinga-style half-roundarm bowling action, with the theory from there on being that by catching the seem in the rough I could pivot the ball onto the stumps. Note: I was not a spin bowler, or really a seamer, or a swing bowler. I had invented an entirely unique (and utterly hopeless) bowling method.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Stepping up to the crease

After being singularly unimpressed with my assertion that traditionally all my New Years' Resolutions involve denying myself something I wouldn't do anyway, such as owning a shark or wearing tartan, my girlfriend has inspired me to try to get playing cricket as a way to improve my fitness. Titter ye not.

So that's what this blog's about: My journey towards playing cricket.