I Don’t Like Cricket…

…I love it

Sitting at Epsom CC last night watching well over 100 kids doing their cricket training got me thinking…

Cricket has played a massive part in my life for more years than I care to remember. It has taught me much and given me some often unlikely but long lasting friendships.  Too many to mention here!

In a world where race and religion are often blamed for, or used to create conflict, my experience of cricket has never shown that.  I have played with and against all colours and creeds and never failed to enjoy it. I also rarely failed to consume food and beer with them afterwards either, even those who weren’t supposed to be drinking (Good man Asif).  Back in the day there was something about this noble game that insisted on good competition on the field and good bonhomie off of it.

It began with watching with Dad in the early 1970’s when, and my kids don’t believe this, you could watch sport on TV withour paying.  I would sit quite happily through an entire days play – only stirring when the lunch or tea interval arrived.  I could still do that now.

From the parks to the villages

My keenness, nay desperation, to play the noble game was only tempered by my complete lack of ability.  Moving to Leicester changed that in an unexpected way.  Ann Woods was Australian and a lecturer in Archaeology at Leicester University.  She had two other loves in her life, cricket and alcohol.  The latter I think did for her in the end but in the intervening years the former worked for me.  Ann was a qualified coach and decent stumper in her own right. She combined the patience of a saint and access to the University bowling machine to turn me from a rabbit into a moderately decent and successful player.  Given the alcohol thing it probably isn’t ideal to raise a glass to Ann but I do and I like to think she wouldn’t mind.

The game today

“The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey” *

I rarely watch live professional cricket now as it only ever on pay tv. Radio however keeps it alive and I can still imagine, thanks to the skill of the commentator, that I am there. Blowers, Aggers, Johnners and Others made (and make) me feel like I am there with them.  Then there was the incomparable John Arlott whose gentle tones over the pre digital long wave removed all cares and worries.

Thankfully my boys are showing a liking for the game so summer evenings and sunday mornings are often spent Umpiring or scoring for one of their teams. I admit to some surreptitious coaching and a serious longing to dust off the long retired bat and pads.  (please don’t tell the skipper though – he’ll never leave me alone).

There are examples of a lack of the old fashioned sportsmanship (nobody walks now) but I guess the necessity of cash has helps create that attitude.  That and the behaviour and attitude of pampered and overpaid footballers which has such a negative influence on our children and is carried into most popular sports in the 21st century.  However, unlike many (but not all) modern professional sports cricket is still mainly played in “the right way”.  Junior cricketers will still applaud the opposition, junior footballers will get within 2 yards of them and fall over dramatically.

Please let’s keep it like that.  If My generation influences our children and they theirs, there may be hope for this great game of ours.

* One of the many from the incomparable Brian Johnson, a man who produced more “Colemanballs” the the legendary David himself.

And finally and very funnily:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13693904


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