The Village Cricketer: Rain-affected friendlies, creaking backs, great teas and shoddy sledging. Cricket's back!
The beginning of the new cricket season should bring with it, so tradition dictates, the sound of leather on willow and a bout of blazing sunshine.
But this is April, we live in the UK and last Saturday’s first friendly brought the sound of cracking and creaking knees and a match completed in teeming rain.
Oh, and this weekend’s games could be in doubt because of a snow forecast.
Welcome back, cricket!
The new season has seen a change of club for me and after a variety of off-field indifferences and fallings-out at my previous club led to an enforced year out of the game, I can’t wait to get going.
Part of that excitement, as in any amateur team sport, is fuelled by some of the lads I’ll be spending hour upon hour alongside in the field this summer. I’ve got to know most of them from months of indoor nets, some from hours spent at the club painting and carrying.
Many have also made the move from my old club, too, who - by a twist of fate - we play tomorrow, weather permitting. My steady, yet unspectacular ‘debut’ of nine lusty, late runs and 1-43 off my first ever eight-over spell wasn’t enough to get me picked. I can only imagine the reception I would have got!
Weekend cricket is a strange beast; some of us spent more time shifting crisps and drinks than we did in the middle, and a major disaster threatened to erupt when we couldn’t find any bails.
There were the usual cast of soap-opera worthy characters there, too; if you’ve ever played village cricket, then you’ll know the ones.
Like the lad who averages three runs with the bat that cost £350, or the old boys with buckled pads and moth-ridden gear. The sledgers, chirping about batsmen having more leaves than Sherwood Forest or swinging like a ‘60s disco.
The unbelievable spread at tea, enough to persuade the skipper to bat first so more of you can tuck in. Comedy fielding, veteran players, mudbath pitches... it’s all very village, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Every village cricketer needs a new bat, right? In a state of excitement and total excess, mine was custom made for me by bespoke bat company B3. See next week’s column!