Being completely and utterly out of shape, I look forward to the start of the 2008 cricket season tomorrow with some trepidation. Not that I’m in danger of being found out during the game itself, as a leisurely walk to the middle and back shouldn’t tax even my fitness. It’s carrying the cricket bag that frightens me. It’s absolutely massive. Never has so much sporting equipment been used by one man with such little effect.
The league season actually kicked off two weeks ago, but I was at a worship conference in Glasgow that day, and last weekend I spent a lovely few days in Keswick with the family. Keswick is one of those rare precious places that has, so far, avoided fostering the Axis of Evil partners (Starbucks et al) and as a result retains a wonderful character all of its own. The family, these days, comprises my mum, my sister Alison, her partner Angela, and little Maggie. That’s a lot of females. By the time Monday came, and Alison’s friends Diane and Caroline arrived, with their little girl in tow, I was just about ready to come home. It was just me and Hamish the cat, bloke-wise, and he was neutered, poor thing. You know things are in a pretty sorry state when your only man-to-man conversation is with an emasculated cat.
Couldn’t be more different from my last visit to Keswick, when, all the way back in 2002, I shared the very same cottage with 5 other lads, in order to celebrate my best mate Grant’s impending marriage. Not a female in sight, apart from the TVR Tuscan we had hired for the weekend. Our Keswickian neighbours were mightily impressed when we revved the 4.2 litre straight six outside their window of a morning. I worried for the whole weekend that Grant would wrap the TVR round a tree, which would have instantly lost me £1000 in insurance excess, which I didn’t have. My anxieties were not eased when it started snowing on the Saturday morning. But we all made it back in one piece, including the car.
So anyway, in preparation for the forthcoming cricketing humiliation that is the 2008 summer, I lumbered down to cricket practice two nights ago, and was promptly sent in to bat, whereupon I unfurled my array of cricketing strokes. I managed to display all my best ones, including the leading edge, the top edge and the outside edge. Somewhat disconcerting, cricket practice, as the surface in the nets is some artificial substance in pristine condition, with a hard, true bounce. Whereas we normally play on slow pitches with variable bounce. So the merits of net practice are somewhat questionable, although it does at least allow you to reacquaint yourself with your cricket bat when you haven’t picked it up since last season, and of course gives you some practice in the art of carrying your oversized cricket bag to and from the car. It also allows you to spend at least a few minutes ‘batting’, as distinct from ‘carrying one’s bat to and from the middle’.
Wiseman called me tonight to see what I was up to. I was busy, as it happens, on the way through to Glasgow to see the aforementioned Grant. On my way to my first ever Italian restaurant with an Indian waiter (Parmesan and black pepper, pliss? Thank you pliss) although I didn’t know it at the time. So I suggested we hook up tomorrow night after cricket.
“You’re playing cricket tomorrow? Crumbs, you’ll be depressed.”
Thanks Mark. As distinct from my usual ebullient self, you must mean.
I may not be depressed (although there is every likelihood of this) but I will be sore. Ten minutes of batting followed by what amounted to two overs ‘bowling’ (I use the term loosely) and two days later I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. Or maybe a large cricket bag…