Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rain, rain and cricket?..

There's a storm 'a' coming..
Saturday bought about the first weekend of the Wetherby League and with it as seems to be typical for the cricket season plenty of rain.  I spent the majority of the week checking and then re-checking various weather channels and websites in the vague hope that there would be some if not all of a day's play.  To be honest when it reached Thursday and the rain continued to fall any hopes I had were disappearing as quickly as the rain down the street drains.

Further browsing on Twitter bought news that games in the Bradford League had already been called off and although I did initially agree that this sounded like the right decision it did seem a bit hasty as the weather reports started to improve.

Luckily no further rain fell from Friday afternoon and after a brief shower on Saturday morning we seemed good to go.  From waking up (early of course) to the sun streaming through the bedroom window, most of Saturday morning was spent looking anxiously at the phone waiting for the 'killer' text or phone call.  None came and bags were packed and placed in the car and I was off.

By some miracle the ground had managed to cope with the deluges and despite there being a slightly boggy outfield, the wicket seemed remarkably firm under foot.  It must be mentioned that our groundsman Mike had done an excellent job in getting the square into any playable order.

New kit was handed out, banter and jokes banded about and we then found ourselves put into bat.  This being my first full season (hopefully!) with the 1st team I was put down to bat at 5.  Given the strength of our batting unit I certainly did not expect to find myself going in at the 19th over, but after a couple of quick wickets this was exactly where I was after narrowly avoiding disappearing into the bog that had settled near the boundary.

Hoping the Winter's training would pay off, nothing could have prepared me for the first delivery of the season.  The offie who hadn't turned the ball much through his spell ripped one past my tentative poke and nearly clean bowled me.  Luckily it somehow missed clipping my pad and going on and after a few defensive shots I was away much to relief with a clip to midwicket. 

After managing to settle into the innings, an unfortunate bad decision not on my part had me sat back in the pavilion cursing my luck of being run out for 12.  In thinking about it a dive would have probably saved me but I still thought the umpire triggered me very quickly.  Being run out has to be the most annoying dismissal as apart from running slightly quicker (usually not possible) you haven't done anything technically wrong.

The innings then lulled and we were eventually dismissed for 123, 30 to 40 runs short of a competitive total.  The team are clearly a lot better than low scores such as this and I am sure we will find our feet in the second division quickly.

When we took to the field our bowlers did an excellent job in trying to get us back into the game but after a short spell where we thought we were on the top the runs were knocked off with relative ease. 

Although I was disappointed to lose, I was certainly grateful of getting the game in and relieving the 'cabin fever' of netting all Winter and not playing a competitive game. 

As I write this now the rain continues to pour down and any chances of playing this week seem to decrease by the hour, however if there is anything that I have learnt from last week the 'Cricketing Gods' can sometimes even smile on a club from a small village in North Yorkshire.  Let's hope they are in a good mood again this week.

Hillam & Monk Fryston 123 all out (0) lost to Kirk Hammerton 124-6 (6)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cricket Yorkshire Article

The Cricket Yorkshire article on yours truly about my time on the ProCoach Training course is now live over on their website and can be found at

Hope you enjoy!

Performance Related Pay in sport - An outsider looking in.

England's recent failings in the UAE and a discussion at work the other day got me thinking why are sportsmen and women paid in essence for performing badly?

In my line of work (nowhere near as exciting as being a professional sportsman), I am constantly monitored, assessed and reviewed to ensure I am doing my job properly and to a good standard.  Any slips or lack of knowledge and I am in the firing line for not receiving a pay rise or bonus.  Why can this not be applied to the world of sport?

Take David Warner currently one of the brightest stars in the game for example.  In the coming year he is due to play up to 11 Tests, 26 ODIs and 12 Twenty20 internationals (up to 93 days of play) for Australia.  I am sure he is getting paid a pretty penny for this and I for one don't begrudge this if he continues his fine form.  Indeed a number of England's batsmen should take note of his actions given their recent horrendous performances.

David Warner - A run and work machine

I also don't begrudge anyone making good money for doing their job well.  Sportsmen and Women at the end of the day are for the most part very well paid entertainers, certainly better paid than yours truly.  And whereas they can suffer a temporary blip in form any longer term poor performance should be met with a pay cut in my opinion. 

The clubs they play for want to make money by drawing the crowds in.  If the players and team aren't playing well then the crowds are less likely to come.  Therefore these clubs need to sit up and give these players a kick up the backside if they are not performing if they want to keep the punters coming through the turnstiles.

Football as well as Cricket is another classic example of this.  Teams in the Premier League pay hundreds of thousands of pounds a week to players that turn up for training and then sit on the bench on a Saturday.

The majority of players outside of a team's first XI don't even play for their reserve teams so are technically being paid to train, sit on their backsides and maybe do a 20 minute warm up before the game which I for one struggle to comprehend. 

The managerial side of the game also seems to be one of the only careers where you can basically be terrible at your job and get paid millions of pounds (Benitez I'm looking at you) when you're sacked, provided you have the right contract and a crafty agent.  You then a few weeks or months time walk into another club and repeat all over again.  In the current climate that this country finds itself in I find this all a bit criminal.

The introduction of performance related pay, i.e. 'you have to score more than 1000 runs, make 500 successful passes etc.' in my mind could only be a good thing and surely would get a lot of players out of their very protective bubbles and performing well.   Sure the pressure may get a bit intense but there are far more stressful occupations in the World.   

So what will be done?  Most likely nothing as this is just my opinion for all it's worth and something I fancied getting off my chest, but hopefully it may have got you thinking..

'Don't worry KP, your cheque is still in the post'

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day in the life of an (obsessive) batsman

Can't sleep.. surely it's time to get up?

Christ it's dark outside, what time is it? 7, 8 o'clock? What only 5?  Sod it I’m getting up.

What's on TV... shopping channel, no, aerobics Oz style? hmm maybe another time.  Ah Countdown this will send me back to sleep.  Can't stop thinking about today's game...

Ah I still suck at Countdown though I have achieved a record of a 5 letter word and got somewhere close in the number round.

...What's that noise? The alarm? Ah must have dropped off to sleep again.

Where's my kit? Ah nightmare can't find my shirt.  There it is hiding at the back of the wardrobe again.  Sure someone is trying to tell me something...

Bag's packed precisely now.  The first couple of times it just didn't feel right.  Feeling slightly better, maybe I should put another jumper in looks cold outside.  No should be fine.

What's that noise? Rain? Is it rain? Oh for god's sake it was meant to be fine today...  Oh wait it's someone washing a car..

Lunch eaten, can't even remember what it was.

Bag is in the car, sure I've forgotten something. Did I forget to put my shirt in? Best get out and check.

No it's there, stupid doubting brain of course you packed it you only checked a mere 5 times before.

To the ground. Is that rain on the windscreen? No, no, just your imagination again.

Bag dumped in the changing room.  Changed, feeling slightly nervous now.  Skippers are on their way out to the middle.  Up goes the coin.

Are we batting? Hello skip, are we batting?

He's gesturing what can only be described as a very loose off drive back towards the pavilion.  Yeah we're batting.

Right, kit on.  Follow the same routine, box, right pad first always first.  Why are you putting your left pad on first?  Remember always right to make it right. 

I don't remember these straps feeling so loose before, thigh pad, helmet, gloves...

Can't find my gloves, Christ I've forgotten to pack them.  Probably too busy checking if I've packed my shirt.  Oh hang on there they are, hiding under last week’s crusting pants.

Here we go then... mind you don't kill yourself slipping on the changing room floor on the way out.  Stupid spikes. 

Need some throwdowns.  Where the hell is everyone?  Probably round the back of the pavilion having a fag is my guess. 

Bat feels weird, handle is like a pencil.  Extra grip? No too late now...

Heading to the middle, nervous.  The opposition don't look too bothered.  Probably more concerned on who is getting the first round in after the game or getting their ear chewed off by their other halves about who got booted off X Factor tonight.

You facing? I don't know, you tell me? I'm not fussed.  Yeah go on then, best to get it out of the way.

Middle please, I said middle please.  Hello are you listening? Ah thank you.  About bloody time!  Scratch away, dig a trench in the crease.

Look around the field.  Who's the weak link?  Hello fielder at point.  You don't look like you've done much exercise since your high school sports day in 1970.  You're my new best friend.

Christ it is a bit chilly.  Should have packed that extra jumper now.

Settle down into stance, bat still feels weird but too late here comes the ball.  Watch the ball, watch the ball.  I'm gonna smash it past my new best friend in a moment..


I've heard that noise before.  The dreaded death rattle.  Surely not?!  The field goes up like a bunch of screaming banshees.  SHIT!

Turn round, trudge off, don't look at the stumps. Don't give them the pleasure of seeing your embarrassment.  Head down straight into the changing room. 

Told you the bat felt weird.  Don't throw it! I said don't throw it.  Too late.  Someone will have heard that.  Idiot!

Kit off, thrown in bag without a care.  No need for all that meticulous spacing out and packing this morning now.

Lie down, fall asleep wait for tea, sure someone will wake you up beforehand.

Wake up, trudge to the table.   

Great only egg mayonnaise left.

Could this day get any worse?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Obsession, purely a cricket thing?..

I was given some sound advice the other day when batting, not to obsess so much about playing the perfect shot and this got me thinking why do we as cricketers 'obsess' so much about our game? 

What is obsession? Cars? No, Money? No, Fame? Well maybe a little.

The dictionary describes obsession as the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, or desire and in my case the desire is the game of cricket. 

I can't think of any other sport that attracts so many people that once captured by the game obsess about it in so many different, unique and utterly crazy ways. 

Whether it be the latest kit (has to be perfectly lined up in my case after each game) to frantically checking the weather on a Friday afternoon for the upcoming game on a Saturday, it is a sport that attracts some of the greatest characters you'll ever meet, whether it be your wily old boys to the fresh faced juniors. 

The obsession for me begins on that final delivery of the Summer and the impending onset of Autumn and Winter.  Here begins a 7 month mission to surpress the 'blues' of not playing again unless you count indoor or office cricket as a game and there barely a day goes by where I don't long for the first cut of the grass in April, the 'unique' smell of your batting gloves and the well earnt pint at the end of the game.  I'm sure I am not alone in this.

Can any other sport lay claim to these obsessions? Probably but I have yet to experience this, maybe I suffer from tunnel vision, but I know that in the coming weeks the 'clubbies' and the pro's will be grabbing their bags from the loft or garage (ok maybe not the pro's) and clearing those spiders and breathing in that musky smell trapped 7 months previous and thinking "I can't bloody wait for this season!".  I know how you feel and I'll be right there doing the same..
I'm not obsessive, honest...
For anyone interested, the blog title is a dedication to Nick Drake one of the finest singer songwriters to grace this Earth. Seriously if you don't know of him get on YouTube and then to the shops. 3 of the finest albums your ears will have the pleasure to listen to..
So the very loose plan is that I use this to chronicle the upcoming cricket season along with any other things that happen along the way.  I'll try not to cover topics that a lot of better writers who have a lot more time than I write regarding the game, but may throw some of my ideas and thoughts into the mix from time to time. 

I can't promise that it will be updated regularly which may not be such an issue if no one reads it..