50 years of cricket…and counting. And why, this year, I will be playing for the first time coming off a (semi-)structured pre-season.

I played my first organised game of cricket in 1973, for the Cleveland Road Primary School.

And my first game for 2023 is scheduled to be on 9th May, with Essex Seniors 60+.

In truth, I haven’t completed 50 seasons. For a variety of reasons — long distance engagement, disenchantment with the game and the Club I played for (more than once), most recently the COVID lockdowns and BoBo’s “vector of transmission” AKA the cricket ball — I have missed a few seasons since making my playing debut.

But 2023 does mark the 50th anniversary of my first season.

1973 — Cleveland Road Primary School

My recollections of school cricket in 1973 are, perhaps not surprisingly, a little hazy.

I know we practiced over the winter at the Ilford Cricket School, under the guidance of Bill Morris. Once a week with the school, plus holiday classes. I was already hooked on the game, before ever I had played in a proper match.

I remember the result of just one game that summer, against Barley Lane Primary.

Bowling first, we dismissed our opponents for 11…and lost! I vividly remember the anguish of our final batsman, dismissed without managing to bring the scores level. I somehow doubt that Ian ever played cricket again.

2023 — Essex Seniors

I made my debut for the Seniors (over 60s) in 2021, as a 59 year old “under-age” player in the 4th XI. In 2022, I reached the unexpected heights of the 2nd XI and a trip to Abergavenny to play against Cricket Wales in the knock-out stages of the National Championships.

We lost, so some continuity from 1973!

Pre-season 2023

Pre-season preparation is a little more considered than in 1973.

I have never been a big fan of winter nets (don’t tell the coaches…), so since leaving university my off-season has comprised at most a few games of indoor cricket (and not even that much for 15 years), and, more recently, bowling a few overs solo if I can find a spare net at work.

I did complete a 3 month rehab programme (knee mobility & strength; interval running) after knee surgery in the autumn of 2018, but that’s as far as I have ever ventured, in previous seasons.

I have barely bowled over the winter, and have yet to bat since last August.

But I have been working on a fitness programme from Cricfit,

I started much later than intended — I have only reached week 8 (of 20) of what is meant to be a pre-season schedule — but I shall continue through the first half of the summer, in parallel with playing and coaching. Our Seniors season comprises a 12-match, regional qualification series, followed by knock-out rounds, so I’ll hope to “peak” around mid-July.

I am walking a lot — averaging >12k steps per day since the New Year; just back from walking the Northumberland Coast Path — and regular coaching and Cricfit’s mobility exercises over the winter has hopefully kept my shoulder limber.

If I hit the season running, literally & figuratively, kudos to Cricfit. If I pull up in the first month, then I obviously should have started pre-season (much) earlier!

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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