Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 5, 2013

On watching my son play cricket

It's a "Let's hope it lasts two seasons" kit

It’s a “Let’s hope it lasts two seasons” kit

The cold is proper cold, obeying the law that states that anywhere on a cricket field is 10 degrees colder than anywhere near a cricket field. The wind bites the ears and rips at numb fingers and the sun, as reluctant as I was to face the day, half-heartedly ducks in and out of clouds that resent their coming banishment as April turns to May and grey to blue.

There’s a grunting roller working the pitch and miniature grown-ups in white being directed by an adult, tracksuited and buzzcutted, with that insistent voice that seems the preserve of PE teachers through the ages. Some hands are in pockets, others hooked round the bottom of sleeves. Nobody wants to appear too keen – but they all are. The opposition, fifty yards away, get into a huddle and then go off on a run round the boundary. “Have you all got jumpers?”.insists The Voice. Well, if they’re not wearing them now…Lines are formed as the warm-up continues; the tinny sound of an ice-cream van lifts itself above the hum of traffic; the kids have been standing still much more in the warm-up than they were when charging about unsupervised.

Where’s our keeper?” “Have we got twelve players?” The mini-adults gather close to the full-size adult and listen for the words of wisdom that could make the difference between, well, something and something. I notice, for the first time with this one, that my boy is the tallest of his peers. I half-wince at how all that time passed so quickly and half-wince at the thought of another six-foot plus man soon to be teenagering around with his elder brother in a South London flat.

Pads reach from ankle to hips (like Sachin) and helmets make heads look too big and bulbous – only the most athletic look anything but awkward. Calling is a negotiation, despite throwing arms being still too weak to effect a run out from anywhere beyond twenty yards distance. Few bowlers are consistent, but there’s a hint of things to come in the balance some show through crease The best batters play straight but they all look for the cross-batted shots behind square. For boys otherwise never still, there’s a lot of static fielders and batters eschew the mid-pitch conference beloved of the pros.

They’re all involved, they’re all loving the thrill of the game and the pinch of competition and they’re all, in my eyes if not theirs, connected to generations of boys (and girls) in whites who have learned the game over hundreds of years. Most won’t go on to play beyond schoolboy days, but some will. They’ll come to know the tremendous rewards of camaraderie afforded by club cricket – they already know the joy of bowling, batting and fielding. A lifetime in this greatest of games lies before them..   

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Responses

  1. Nice perspective on the game.

  2. The joy of fielding? In that weather. Bless you for writing this Gary. As evocative as our beloved beautiful game (Cardus, not Pele) deserves. Hope your lads eventually have the same sense of belonging to cricket, of being owned by it if you will, that you and I have.

    Much respect. Dude. Blud. Wha-eva. :)

    • Cheers Ravi. If they get half of what we got, it’ll be plenty won’t it?

      Re fielding, once they were reminded to back up the throw, seven of them were trying to get behind the keeper!


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