The struggles of a park cricketer

Anyone who has ever played cricket at a competitive level will agree with me when I say it can be a shit of a game. When you are playing well, you feel invincible, and nothing can bend your mood. But if you’ve had a bad day on the park, you’ll convince yourself that spending your Saturdays shopping at IKEA with your girlfriend is better than this shit.

Cricket is such a game where your team can win but you still go home with urges to drop the hairdryer in the bath tub. Although cricket is a team game, it is highly individualised, and our successes and failures as individuals are clear as daylight for everyone to see, and judge. Many a time I’ve had these kinds of mixed emotions where my team has won but I’ve had an absolute stinker of a time. In fact that’s how I was a part of a premiership winning team in 2010. I didn’t make a run for the finals series, or contribute in any other meaningful way, yet still walked away with a medal. It was a memorable year, and I played with a great bunch of mates, but when you know you haven’t done your part and its there for all to see, it can take the gloss off a win, no matter how great it was.

Since the age of ten, summers have meant lugging my cricket kit to training twice a week, whacking plenty of balls, going to bed early on a Friday night before a game, and giving my mum an absolute nightmare with my weekly grass stained whites.

A few seasons ago I scored over 400 runs and averaged over 30, but a couple of my friends went to the beach twice, so I don’t really know who had the better summer. That’s one thing about cricket, it is bloody time consuming. Two trainings a week, and a game to take up the whole Saturday leaving you wrecked for Sunday. Just the thing to turn your relationship to shit, unless she enjoys being the only wag in your team of deadbeats.

Any park cricketer would agree that despite how stinky your Saturday was, dinner time would involve a ball by ball summary of your innings in complete detail as well as the chance for you to provide evidence to prove that the umpire was a cheat for giving you out. Cricket at the very least provides us with enough ammunition in our discussion arsenals to crap on for a lifetime. I might’ve nicked off third ball, but I sure as hell can justify that the ball was moving sideways and took off from this one crack in the wicket that no one saw.

Park cricketers all over have one thing in common, the love for the afternoon tea break. In fact, whilst every other team in the league are cunts, the level of cuntness is determined by the quality of spread served up at afternoon tea. Park cricketers feel so strongly about this that they’ll throw their wicket away early in the hope to get dropped for the following week because one of the guys from their B Grade brings homemade sausage rolls. Bowlers running into bowl with stitches after filling their boots with one too many lamingtons is a common sight in park cricket, whilst home sides that dig in without letting the visiting team take first pickings are awarded the title of fucking cunts.

It can be a terrible game cricket, but it can be the very best at the same time. We keep showing up year after year, thinking this might be the year we make it big, only to realise a 6 month break didn’t do the LBW issue any justice. Cricket provides us with stories for a lifetime, and some of the very best camaraderie. Even if we finish the year bottom with 127 runs at 14.43,  one can rest assured that we’ll be back the following year to do it all over again.

There’s just something about this great game of ours that keeps us coming back.

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