Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Winter blues

It's been 81 long, cricketless days since I last donned my whites and took to the field of battle. It's getting me down. It's very unfair of the Sun to waste 6 months favouring the Southern hemispere - firstly because there's less landmass down there, and secondly because the populations of what land there is only go and squander it all by organising a criminally truncated 2-Test series between two of the great teams* in cricket.

Anyway, you'll have noticed there hasn't been any new posts here for a little while, and that's because a) there's very nearly nothing going on in my own cricket career, and b) commenting on what cricket there is currently taking place around the World seems a little silly, in view of the many excellent professional and amateur cricket writers you could have been reading instead of wading through my ramblings.

So what is going on with me then? Well, I've volunteered to help out with our junior nets on Friday evenings, and rather unfairly they've already started last week while us seniors have to wait until February. Bloody ageism. It's good fun as it goes, but I dread to think what sort of cricketer is likely to grow out of my influence... Hopefully before too long I may get a chance to bowl the odd ball at some of the older juniors at some point - I'm dying to bowl again.

I've got various minor things going on with kit. I'm taking my Ultralite pads into the dudes in the Market who do alterations to get the straps shortened to the right length for me - I'm not intending to buy any new pads for many years yet so I may as well get them right, so I've also whitewashed the Morrant logos on the front. Secondly the club's got a new kit for next year so I've purchased a bit of everything with the noted exception of the hated "modern" cricket jumpers that seem so horribly ubiquitous these days - I'm sticking with my beloved cable-knit thank you very much. Happily there is a wide-brimmed sunhat in the range so those of us on the sensible side of the whole "hat vs cap" dichotomy are at last catered for.

Then there's an ongoing discussion going on in my head about bats. I don't understand why it is, but these days bats seem to be steadily increasing in size like the immortal Blob of '50s horror move fame, and it is now totally impossible to buy an off-the-shelf bat that weighs less than 2lb 7oz. I find this rather strange, given that I know for a fact that Sir Boycott (8114 Test runs @ 47.72), Sir Sobers (8032 @ 57.78), Sir Barry Richards (508 @ 72.57) and Sir Bradman (6996 @ 99.94) all used bats that were around 2lb 4oz.

When I swing my (~2lb 8oz) bats around, I can just feel that there is too much heft in them, and I can't help but wonder how I am supposed to adjust my line as I swing the bat down, given the extra inertia that these bats cannot deny that they have. I think I'm going to try one of those Top Gear-style "how hard can it be?!" experiments, buy myself a cheapo bat and see if I can plane it down into a more manageable size, then try it out in the nets and see how I get on. If it feels OK then I may either get a professional to reduce the weight of my current bats, or else commission a fully custom-made one to my exact specifications.

What else? Well allow me a few words about Tahir. I've thought for about a year now that he's the best leg-spinner around, so I was pleased to see him finally break into Test cricket earlier this month, even if he didn't have much to do in his first match. I watched his second match, and was delighted to see him claim his first Test wicket. His second, though, had me bouncing around the room with excitement - I could see what Siddle didn't, that in just 4 balls Tahir was pitching it progressively wider of off to set him up beautifully for what probably ranks as the finest wrong 'un I've ever seen live, and Tahir's is probably the most lethal googly there's been since Stuart MacGill went off to his wine tasting. Arthur Mailey would have loved it, it was an absolute peach! Another wrong 'un could quite easily have taken Cummins' wicket a few balls from the end to make the match really exciting (I'd given it out myself but it was a close call), but overall I think Immie should be pretty satisfied. Give him a few tours of spin-friendly wickets in Australia and the Subcontinent and he should really make his mark.

*I'm talking about Australian sides in general here, clearly no-one would call their current team great.

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