Last night was sport number 4: cricket at Wadebridge Cricket Club. This session was going to be a bit different, as 3 of the hockey girls (Tamar, Sugar and Tara) came along to give it a go. I was a little unsure as to whether they would cramp my style, but thought it would be different to go along with friends.
At this point, I will fess up that I am or was a complete cricket nerd. I don’t like cricket, no, no, I love it and this sentence will only make sense if you know the song! So much of a nerd that when I was a teenager I watched every ball of the 1994-1995 Ashes series, played in Australia. I was never into bands or popstars; my pin-up was Darren Gough. I followed England in the 90s when they were rubbish. I even have a 2005 Ashes injury from when I jumped up at Hoggard’s match-winning eighth-wicket partnership with Ashley Giles and I took a painful lump out of my knee. People, I love cricket - but I have never played.
Sure, I have knocked about on a beach with a tennis ball but never have I used a proper cricket ball. So when picking it up for the first time, I was surprised how light it was. Immediately, I set about polishing the knackered old ball nicely around the seam, just to help with my turn. My hockey friends asked what the hell I was doing. I ignored them.
First things first. Before I could unleash my pent-up yorker, we had to warm-up, which was led by Coach Mark. The hockey girls are a competitive lot, so took this on with vigour. After we had thrown, rolled and caught, we moved on to the nets. This was my time. I largely ignored the coaching instructions provided - I knew how to bowl. I took a couple of steps run up, gripping the ball and aiming for middle stump. I released the ball and it went flying over the nets into the grass to my left. This was the first of many bowling disappointments of the evening.
Thankfully the hockey girls were equally rubbish at bowling. We regrouped and decided that batting was definitely our thing, given that we hit hockey balls around on a Saturday. Two by two, we went into the nets to give it a go. Tara was no Lara, which I chortled at her. She looked blankly at me. I was in next. Again, I channelled my inner Pietersen, whilst putting on the pads and getting ready to face my first ball in anger. Unfortunately, as my
friends were equally useless at bowling, it took about 3-4 balls before I could face anything I could actually hit. The first ball I went for, I smacked the bat into the wickets...dammit! Wickets back and a step forward then I was away. I absolutely loved it. I am sure if the nets weren't in the way, I would have been consistently scoring boundaries. Probably...possibly.
The session was a really chilled out one, with passers-by wandering past and watching family members of those playing encouraged to have a bowl. After reluctantly giving up the bat, we moved onto catching and throwing. I liked throwing. As a bit of a tomboy at school, I had worked hard not to have a “girly” throw. I was also good at catching but that was with a tennis ball. This ball is hard and I really wasn’t keen on trying to catch this one.
So batting - tick, throwing - tick, bowling - fail, catching - fail. Never mind, there are some cricketers who have had successful careers focusing on only one of them! The hockey girls enjoyed themselves and hopefully we can get the cricket ladies to come and give hockey a go when our season starts again. Maybe there is something in “sport-swapping” when you are out of season?
As for me, I’m delighted to have given something a go which I have always wanted to do. It’s never too late. If you have always wanted to ride a horse or jump on a trampoline, go do it! You may only do it once but definitely, do it. Life is short. You have to make your own opportunities and memories.
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