Right after the first test England vs West indies series got under way on Wednesday, a match that is turning out to be an intriguing low scoring thriller, the day that club cricketers around the country have been craving for has finally arrived.
Recreational cricket has finally returned!
Not so long ago, Boris Johnson described the cricket ball as a “natural vector of disease” which lead to an understandable outroar from the club cricket community as cricket is a sport in which you socially distance anyway so a slight tweaking of the rules to benefit the containment of pandemic would surely be more than possible.
Club cricketers around the country were left completely bamboozled by this ambiguous googly of a decision by the PM but in a dramatic U turn, Boris Johnson declared that recreational cricket would be permitted to continue on the 11th of July much to relief of many English cricket fans and players.The heart of the english summer had been restored!
I myself was shocked, in a good way, as I never expected the PM to reverse his decision so quickly but at the same time I was incredibly excited and raring to go…
Today, being the 11th of July, my local club, Timperley CC 2nd XI had arranged a T20 friendly with Bowdon CC in order to dust of any unwelcome cobwebs before the competitive season started and fortunately, I was selected.
When the day arrived, I arrived at the ground just before the start of the game and already I could see that there was a more than decent turn up for a friendly which, I presume, was due to the fact that there has been a scarce source of entertainment over the course of lockdown so a chance to watch some cricket and socialise with friends at a distance is a chance that could not go amiss.
As I walked across the field to place my kit bag, I soon was met with the reality that dressing rooms will not be used this cricket season due to the hygiene and social distancing .
I had mixed feelings: dressing rooms can often be a cramped and dingy place which is generally a not pleasant place to be. However, dressing rooms can be central to the team’s camaraderie but what is the use of camaraderie when you have to sit in something that polarises the comparatively gargantuan room that professionals are rightfully blessed with.
My team won the toss and decided to bowl on a pitch that would prove arduous for both fast bowlers and batsmen alike due to its slow nature.
I was presented with the task of opening the bowling on a pitch devoid of any movement or bounce an opening bowler would hope for.
Like many cricketers, I had significant doubts over the fact that I had not played a match since the end of last season and was unsure if I could perform at the standards at which I was capable of doing.
However, I brushed away my apprehension and proceeded to put in a good opening shift for the team.
One thing that I thought would make a considerable amount of impact is the sanitisation breaks per 6 overs. In the IPL, they have strategic timeout breaks and after these breaks there always seemed to be a wicket subsequently due to the loss of rhythm for the batsman.
I thought that the sanitisation break would make a subtle difference that could alter the outcome of the match as we know that cricket is such an unpredictable game as anything can be likely to happen at anytime.
However, I was wrong: the sanitisation breaks barely counted as a break as I took a brief gulp of water, a quick squirt of sanitiser and of I went to the cricket field.
In all, there was little momentum lost by the batsmen in these breaks which may calm down the anxiety of batsmen reading this who thought that this would make a difference.
Here’s a new rule that seems deceivingly simple: after you bowl the ball, the wicketkeeper has to give it to the bowler directly rather than throw it round the field. This is because they want to decrease the amount of contact with the ball.
I don’t know about you, after I deliver the ball, I have always immediately turned my back to the batsman and then concentrate on the next ball while the ball was thrown around in the field until it eventually came to me.
This new rule may sound simple but it took a bit of getting used to as I had to receive multiple reminders from my teammates to collect the ball directly because of a mixture of instinct and muscle memory that have been developed over the years.
Timperley won the game comfortably by 7 wickets as the team shaked of any rustieness as we got of to a solid start to the season.
In summary, I don’t think that cricket has changed that much at all in terms of the slight tweaking of the rules and the social distancing but the value of the game has increased substantially because in lockdown we have truly acknowledged how much we enjoy playing the gentlemen’s game more than ever.
So instead of worrying about whether you will bowl terribly and look like a fool or get a duck and let the team down,something that I have admittedly been guilty of in the past, just enjoy playing the game that we have so terribly missed and, simply put, just have fun!