Saturday, 15 June 2013

A Lifetime Love (and a lot of nostalgia)

Saturday, 15 June 2013
Hello, remember me? Sometimes I post here, though that may just be once a year, as it turns out. Maybe I'll post more this summer, what with an Ashes series coming up and all. Then again, maybe I won't. But right now I have a long, empty summer ahead of me - having just finished my first year at university - and I am feeling the effects of having too much time on my hands, leading to me coming on here once more. And I'm in the mood for reflecting.

It's hard to say what my first memory of cricket is. It's kind of difficult to place. I have memories of playing cricket on the beach with my family from a very early age; I couldn't hold the bat properly so my parents would stand behind me to help, and I would only bowl underarm to begin with until I learnt how to go overarm from watching the tv as much as other people in my family. We also had a table top cricket game - a family friend described the fielders as looking like 'men sitting on toilets', a description that has never left us - and my brother and I created our own teams we would battle each other with. Our star players were both fast bowlers - mine was 'Lisa Fireball' and my brother's 'Ian Pace' - and they took part in many battles whether in our back-garden, on the beach, in the lounge or in the table-top game.

In terms of watching the game, my earliest clear memory comes from the 2001 Ashes. Naturally England lost the series, but at Headingley, chasing down 315 Mark Butcher hit a brilliant 173* to win England the match. Mum let us jump on the sofa after the win - beating Australia was a special event to celebrate, she justified. The next summer was the first full summer I can remember. Michael Vaughan secured a place in my heart by scoring heaps of runs - being from Yorkshire was an added bonus - yet never quite made it to a double century, and Rahul Dravid was immovable for India. The final of the triangular ODI tournament was one of my favourite matches ever, and I'm pretty sure I can still remember large portions of the commentary for it as Trescothick 'danced on his home fortune pipes' and Hussain hit his first and only ODI century and raised three fingers to the press. At the end of the season Mathew Elliott hit a century to win the C&G Trophy for Yorkshire - who I support thanks to family influence despite living in the home counties all my life - a final I'm pretty sure was on free to air television as well, a thought that seems alien to me eleven years later.

I didn't join a cricket club until I was 13 years old, and in hindsight I wish that I'd joined earlier. I could already bowl and had a pretty decent basic technique - years playing with my brother had paid off. I played my first match for my county the next year but I think I just found it all a bit serious. I'd had one training session with the county squad beforehand and had only been playing properly for a year, whereas everyone else seemed far more experienced and had probably known each other for quite a few years which made it difficult for me to fit in, particularly at the height of my very socially-awkward-angsting teenage years. At a district level we became more of a team and playing at a higher level than my club did help me improve as a player and get used to the hard ball, but I'd found that the higher I got, the less fun I had. Maybe I would have fitted in better if I'd started younger and had more experience, I'll never know. I don't play as much nowadays - in the past few years exams and other things have got in the way a bit - but I do still enjoy it and hopefully I will get round to joining a full women's team soon.

Cricket has a long and fascinating history, and I've only been on this planet for a small fraction of it. I love reading Wisden, immersing myself in statistics and the game's stories and unique quirks. It's a sport that so many have vivid memories of, and can wax nostalgic just as I have done of their favourite memories, their favourite matches, their favourite teams and players, how they found their love of the game and more. And to be honest, I love to lap it up; everybody has their own story of the game not matter if they're a pro, a village cricketer, or have never picked up a bat; if they're ten years old or a hundred and ten years old. I just thought that I'd share some of my love, and if anyone else wants to share as well, I'd love to read that too.

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