Sunday, 29 April 2012


Three games, which have taken the grand total of 64 emails to set up (yes, I counted), have resulted in my facing two balls. And that was only because we were on astroturf.

Still. Normally we sit at our desks on a Monday, anxiously checking the BBC website. Then, because we don't like what it's saying, we check the Met Office one. But we don't like that (especially because it has a detailed statistical break down of exactly how likely we are to get very wet), so we anxiously click around any number of other weather sites, finally finding one that tells us there's only a forecast of heavy showers. Fantastic! We can play through that!

Two days later the BBC changes its prediction and tells us we're looking at bright sunshine. A day later it picks 'light showers' from the meteorological roulette wheel, but being cricketers we'd already decided three days earlier the game was definitely on.

Under slightly ominous clouds, we wend our merry way to wherever the ground is, run out onto the pristine outfield, pull a bat and ball out of our bags, get ready for a bit of catching practise, and it immediately shits it down for eight hours straight.

Monday, 16 April 2012

15/04/2012 - Crouch End

During the off-season I got the chance to review a rather great book about middle age. One of the things the author touches on is his experience of becoming a dad. He makes the point that he was dreading the work, the lack of sleep, the distraction from his career - but that once it happened, he found it liberating - a "freedom from self".

I don't have any news like that to report, but I've been busier with work and other stuff (including sorting fixtures, which has been more of a nightmare than usual) this year more than any other. Those who've been hoping to see lots of blogging here, for example, may have noticed this. I don't expect this situation to change any time soon, but I've already realised it's likely to make the cricket a lot more enjoyable.

Where once I'd worry about how I and the team were doing, I can honestly say there's too much on my plate now. So more than anything, cricket's just an escape. I turned up having had an average of 4 hours' sleep a night for the last week, and I felt like death. This is something of a change from a few years ago, when I'd turn up feeling awful and having had similar levels of sleep, due to a five-day booze bender.

I was therefore overjoyed I didn't get to do much (a breathtaking 2* and a few overs of utterly rubbish spin/dibbly mediums), but I enjoyed it more than plenty of other games where I've done well. We had a laugh, we won pretty easily, the opposition were friendly, the tea was good, there was a bar with cricket and footy on - so even though it was FUCKING freezing, it was a top day. Not for the two guys who cabbaged themselves before we'd even started - one in a footy game in the morning, another catching a ball while we were warming up. Very important lessons to be taken there, I feel.

Off-season the netting has gone really well. I'm using my feet to the spinners well, and feeling confident against pace due to a couple of little technical changes. In fact I feel more in control of game plan than ever before. I'm not sure there's any other game where you can keep learning and developing as you do in cricket.

Back in 2003 I wouldn't have had a solid strategy for, say, a right arm over the wicket away swing bowler - I'd have known what they were trying to do, but I'd have carried on playing like I always did: block a couple then try and whack it somewhere. Then wonder what I'd done wrong on my way back to the shed. Today I shift my guard a stump across, stay side on, look to pick off the runs on length and try to avoid playing too square if it's on my legs. It's a lot to think about in isolation, but like all my other plans it's evolved over the years through failing, again and again, so it usually happens without too much thought. This means getting out these days isn't much of a mystery: it's usually either because I just wasn't good enough or lost concentration and deviated from some part of said plan.

Which makes it all the more frustrating when I do get out. After such knowledge, what forgiveness?

Can't complain, anyway. And there was a farmers' market at the ground.

It's going to be a good season, I think.