We were spoilt by the weather yesterday. This was the view as I arrived for work on Saturday morning, just before 8 am.
It has gone cold again, today. Of course it has! The First Class game has started already, and the more ambitious clubs will be venturing outside in the next week or two. It has to be cold, and windy (or cold, windy and wet) for the start of the new season!
I think it must be in the Laws, somewhere, or perhaps the Spirit of Cricket?
But this ECB video, from 2018 (with a cameo appearance from a friend), set me thinking about the new season, and getting ready for one more time around.
One more time
I must have experienced some 45 “pre-seasons”, now, from schoolboy to (very) senior (unpaid) pro, still with the Club I first played for, as a junior, back in 1974.
My very first year of school cricket was marked (pun unintended) by an especially poorly timed bout of chicken pox, which forced me to miss the first couple of weeks of the season, and left me worrying if I would ever get a place in the school team.
There have been a few seasons when I had no intention of playing (due to work or family commitments, fitness, only once through disenchantment with the game), but for perhaps 40 years I have enjoyed the anticipation that begins, for me, around the middle of February, with the first, false stirrings of spring.
One more season. Always, one more.
Once more round
Two healthy knees (well, one repaired and perhaps at 90%, the other now probably in need of repair and working at 75%) and another winter throwing and chasing balls around cold sports halls,, mean I am as physically ready for another season as I have been for a decade or more.
I have even been to winter nets (once, when I wasn’t coaching on a Sunday — this counts as peak preparation, nowadays).
No, I didn’t bat — far too early for me, in February. Don’t want to be out of form before June!
But the bowling arm feels loose enough, and I‘m seeing the ball OK when it is hit back at me, standing on the bowling machine.
Once more round the 4th XI section, although I expect to be in the 5s — oh, how the Club has moved on, since my first appearances for the (then very occasional) Extra 3rds, just a year after my chicken pox-delayed school debut.
State of mind
So much of the game is played in the mind. Whilst technique matters, it is nothing if the player can’t apply the technique, and apply themselves to the task at hand — playing the game!
Am I ready, psychologically, for another year of dodgy umpiring, poor pitches and worse teas? Another year of “nearly” and “not quite”?
Because that is what we will face in 2019, inevitably.
I don’t know what else I would do with Saturday afternoons.
I can’t face umpiring or scoring, knowing that I am still probably fitter than half of the players out on the pitch.
And not being there at all, after 45 summers, would feel very strange, indeed.
This might just be the season when I manage to wheel out the teesra in a match.
Or maybe it will have to be next year?