Cricket, The Gentlemans Game.
This is my second year back playing cricket after a rather lengthy lay off, 12yrs.
The grade isn’t as high as it used to be but I managed to have as much fun as ever last year, and in doing so won the best bowler award (a truly beautiful award it is to featuring the best in plastic gold and marble) and sneaking in an average of 70 odd.
We had quite possibly the greatest year any team has had at Kumeu Cricket Club, losing 3 games all year and only falling short of the final as we had 6 players miss our semi final in favour of a wedding, poor form I say!
Well that season has been recorded and booked and replaced with another.
A less grande one it seems as we are now 0-4 and not looking like winning a game again, ever.
Anyways, lets not get bogged down in the who, how and why of this current situation lets instead focus more on….
Having not played for the above mentioned 12yrs and, rather obviously, not purchasing any gear in close to 15yrs I was looking a lil bit like the man that cricket forgot out there last year with all my `Classic 90’s’ gear. I had decided that I wasn’t gonna go out and buy me anything new until I was sure I was gonna play for more than 3 weeks.
So once it was certain that I was back into the swing a few things were gonna be required. Firstly New pads!
My old, and I do mean old, ones were looking rather ragged and weighed a tonne compared to the fancy pants new things they have these days. I quickly managed to get some for cheap off a dude at practice thusly solving that problem.
Next would be a bat.
Now I have had my old bat for close to 15yrs and had a very good run with it in some very important moments in my cricket career
> Protecting my delicate young body from Danny Morrison at Devonport
> Smashing Willie Watson about whilst he called me schoolboy at Kumeu
So I was reluctant to want to throw these grande memories away in favour of a newer younger model. But time had been a cruel mistress and my lovely old County
was showing signs of wear and tear and an almost complete lack of a middle, making me look rather pathetic as I unleashed all of the fury and power my massive tree trunk like arms can muster to barely move the ball off the square. So the decision was made to get a new one. This was helped along by a rather fun 73 not out I made in a warm up game using the old battle axe, which could have been 150 if I had a bat that worked proper! But I had the closure I wanted, 1 last good time we could always remember together whilst sitting about on the porch in our combined old age whittling shit other bats I never scored any runs with (I am talking to you Duncan Fearnley) …
So it was off to Cricket Express to buy a new toy!
Over the years I was always more of a `noodler’, an accumulator of runs more than a smasher or dasher. But since I am presently playing 40 over matches there isn’t much need for that batting anywhere from 6 to 9, so I decided that I needed a big hunk of wood. I had pre-settled on a Puma bat, like Brendan Mac Cullum uses, as it looked the best of a bad bunch. Of course it was a measily $529…. The Wife was exstatic as you can imagine.
I called in the help of the Old man to ensure I didn’t get too carried away and buy something stupid (1 bat cost a very reasonable $850). I was astounded at how light the bats are these days, my old bat which was classed as a girls bat by team mates when I purchased it had either put on weight (like myslef) in the years in between or things had really turned a corner since I was last playing. Even the Puma’s chunk of wood was a touch lite in the loafers. So it wasn’t long till a store shill came over to try and lay the hard sell on us. I explained my desire to have a big bit of tree and he immediately pointed us in the direction of the
Gray Nicholls Viper Giant
By the Jesus!
It was a plank with a handle on it!!
A cricket fence post!
excatly what I was after!
and, Wife pleasingly, $200 cheaper than the Puma (and a lot less Nazi)
The only problem, and this seems endemic at present, is the number of bloody stickers all over the thing! Its a cricket bat not a D1 Drifting race car for fucks sake! So I got cricket express to oil, roll and stick a toe guard on it (possibly getting carried away there with the last 1) and the damage was done.
I had a new Bat!!!
I would need to wait a full week before being able to pick it. Thats a long bloody time when ya desperate to tutu with ya newest and coolest toy!
I will take this `break for the wait’ to explain a bit about a batsman and his bat.
A bat isn’t just a piece of kit like pads, gloves, ball etc…. Its a part of your being, it is your defence and your attack, its your dearest friend in enemy territory!
You must have complete faith in your bat which you gain over time from practice and success. You spend a great deal of time together learning its feel, the idiosyncrasies the strengths (and hopefully not weaknesses). My old bat had been the best I had ever owned and when I was playing properly it was an extension of my own body and I had complete faith in its ability to do what I wanted/expected. But as I mentioned above it no longer was there for me like I needed it to be, like a good friend with a new hot girlfriend….he’s busy tonite.
So the week finally came to an end and I was there within seconds of its readiness! The first thing I did was to remove 8 separate stickers! So as its inante beauty could shine through (and I wouldn’t look like a massive tool holding the ugliest bat in the world, other than a kookaburra). Alas this day was a friday night before a game…..
Should I take my untested plank to the game to use?
or stick with the proven to be poor battle axe??
I went with the previous and managed 1 run before being spectacularly bowled middle stump off a nice wee inside edge (top marks for that nice red cheery on the inside edge). Humpf, this is not what I was looking for…..
I decided that I would need to get some serioius mid week practice in so that I could learn how the plank opperated.
Rather typically this didn’t happen and I found myself wandering out the middle with a (jinxed) new untested bat for the 2nd week in a row. Super.
I scratched about for an over or 3 desperately trying to find the middle, of which I was beginning to think I had pulled off with the stickers, when there was a bowling change. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of the first over and the first long hop which I clubbed, no finesse here, to the boundary for 4. Whilst they played fetch I was thinking to meself `Prolly coulda hit that for 6, what with the new plank and all’…. Eventually they managed to return the ball to bowler. After having all this time to contemplate what went wrong and how to recitfy the situation and possibly remove me from the crease our bowlers answer was to bowl the same ball again. Bloody nice of him that! So I took me own advice and commenced to smoting it high and just long enough to receive the maximum! My first 6 at my historical home ground! I was caught by the fieldsman a foot over the boundary but hey, bully fer you! its still 6! So thats 10 off 2 balls and I am still fumbling about trying to find the middle like a teenage boy in a girls undies.
The bowler seemed deep in thought, as he should, and came at me again this time with extra vim and viguer! he had obviously focussed on what went wrong and had a definate answer this time! Slower and more of the same!!
So I replied in kind, 6 more! Still no middle in this acursed wood tho….
The next ball of his over he truly did change the script and bowled a full toss so wide I was barely able to hit it and grabbed a measily 2….
Again, not hitting it so grande and wondering if it would be acceoptable to return this piece of crap….
So the bowler comes in a decides to try combining his successes by bowling me a full toss on me legs. I choose to try and chip it into the gap for an easy 2 maybe 4 if I am lucky.
I have found the middle!
and she’s sweet!! just breezed out of the screws there and boy did that feel good!!
absolute perfection there it seems!!
So I look up to survey the damage from this perfectly timed master stroke….
Well the chip shot was now multiplied into a full body smote that had sailed and extra 20m to the feildsman…. who of course caught the bastard thing!
Its now a couple of weeks further down the line and I am only tonite off to have my first practice with the plank! Horrible news really! I have been unable to scrunge up enough time to get out there and spend some time with hopefully a new cricket life partner….
Well since this isn’t based on any kinda timeline I can do this…
Its the next day!!
Practice was sparsely attended, as usual, but I was able to spend some quality time with the Plank. Who kindly began to reveal its majesty to me! I have discovered the middle and was using it to some rather devastating effect!
She could be a goer after all!
I will leave this here as I have managed to wax lyrical about the most `boring’ game around for an extended period already. You may hear more from me throughout the season, but only if things go well! Well I am barely going to regale you with stories of my shit attempts at cricket am I!!
So till next week (oh yeah!) its byebye from me and The Plank!