Saturday, August 02, 2014

Calling Time

I had hoped that I'd have recovered sufficiently to at least make myself available for at least one game of cricket this summer. Alas though, I'm still pretty shredded.

Most of it is self inflicted wounds. Most of the cuts and slices repair themselves to invisibility properly, within 3 days. It's just the persistent bits that cause a problem, because those are the ones I redamage when my guard's down.

But, even with the skin problem, it was getting near the time when I'm just simply too old to justify being on a cricket field as a player. There's 3 disciplines in cricket :

Batting, bowling and fielding.

I turned into being pretty decent at all 3 and (when intact!) could have commanded a place in the sides as either batter or bowler. I've batted everywhere in the order, having the technique to survive as an opening batsman against the best bowlers. My bowling was very dangerous and I've won more than a few games for my sides by taking wickets at crucial times. My fielding was ... interesting ... sometimes good, sometimes horrible but I'd put all the effort in that I had available.

Curiously, the form never came at the same time. I'd either have a good batting year or a good bowling year. Much of that was to do with injuries, the year after my introductory season was blighted by groin strains and a back problem that put a major dampener on my ability to bowl.

Anyway - one reason for calling time is that my ability to perform the roles is no longer what I would expect it to be. And if I'm not performing highly for the team, then I don't consider myself worthy of a spot in the team ahead of other people who are keen to play. It actually goes further than that, cricket was becoming seriously hard work in terms of being able to run around on the field. The first two games last year were played in cold, dreary conditions where I just literally froze. As in, not able to go Warp Speed because the muscles had turned to concrete.

Batting - I've never been a big hitter but in the later years, I felt I was costing the team wins by batting too slowly. Perhaps that's a sign that my glasses were affecting batting more than I thought but it was mostly strength lacking in arms that were a fraction behind getting the bat where it needed to be to spank the ball around.

Bowling - it literally became dangerous for me to bowl. The damage to my shoulder means I have no control over the length it comes out at. Combine that with an action that naturally curves the ball into the batsman and you get something potentially lethal. It's a head high ball that's following them as they try and duck out of the way.

Yet there's still the feeling on the field when you see bowlers who are truly pathetic (we've had some who claimed they can bowl, they were trusted to ... and then bowled half an over of wides) and you know you could have done better. But that's coming from a strike bowler who was regularly economical and wicket taking. A key bowler if you will.

What did I do to the shoulder ? In the 97 season, there was a pitcher called Alex Fernandez. I'd been watching baseball at uni and the team I followed was the Florida Marlins, who had Alex Fernandez in the team. However, he missed the playoffs due to a torn rotator cuff which meant 18 months out of the game. (It's the muscle group that holds the shoulder together). He retired 4 years later aged 31. I heard of this after injuring my shoulder playing badminton. I'd gone for a jump-smash, missed it and tried to switch my shot to an underarm flick. My shoulder got levered out of the socket somewhere in between the two shots.

Cue a couple of months of not being able to pick anything up with my right arm because it felt like the arm was being pulled out of the socket. When I heard the diagnosis of "torn rotator cuff", I didn't think much of it. Didn't sound impressive. You can bet I went "Oh crap" when I saw the Alex Fernandez story ... As things worked out, I had that 18 months off bowling because I didn't play much cricket at uni and it was patchy after I started work. I do however have a pic from when I helped a work side gain a knockout trophy. I got wickets in that game :-).

But - all good things ... While I did get a few good years able to bowl again, I reinjured it a few years ago. Could have been a few things. I had 3 years out of the game for personal reasons. I lifted a 28" CRT telly on my own (oops) and I think I reinjured it playing badminton again (in a session at the gym at work).

I do feel it's sad though that the real kicker for calling time on the cricket is the skin condition. Although you could also say that it's forced a decision that's been coming for a long time now. I'll be 40 in a few months .... And that's a lot of years spent abusing natural fitness.

I've never really been one for training. In fact, the times I have trained have actually led to me getting worse. There's one particular series of circuit training where I gained zero aerobic fitness (where I've always been lacking), yet lost all of my extreme speed. That natural fitness has usually seen me get match fit during net practice or I'd catch up quick in the first couple of games of the season.

No - even without the impact that the skin condition is having, there's a few signs of Too Old that make cricket a really daft proposition :

Shoulder - goes without saying. It's not just the bowling, it's the throwing too.
Hips - I've damaged my groin muscles a few too many times. Ouch.
Knees - have always been unhappy that I have massive leg muscles.
Back - another one I bust with the bowling.
Hands - a lifetime of fumbles takes its toll

It got to the point where I had the option to go say hi to the boys, when the two teams I played for had their game this season. But I didn't want to go to the field where I should have been playing. It's as if it would have been too much psychologically to have it hit home that the cricket field is not a place I should be as a player.

As it happens, the Crazie mob was going to be enjoying How To Train Your Dragon 2 at the same time. Cricket mob to watch or movies with the Crazie Mob : No contest.

I'll still keep watching the cricket. It can be a compelling game, where the result is in doubt all the way up to the end. If you're lucky. Sometimes, the result gets obvious quickly and it's just a matter of getting there. The excitement of a Last Over Can Go Either Way game makes up for all those.

I'll make the plans for it too :
Lords for the Interservices T20 games will be an annual pilgrimage.
And I may well put the narrowboat on the Gloucester & Sharpness canal where it's in range of Worcester, so I could nab a fortnight in the summer to cruise to Worcester to watch a few games.

Yes. I'd quite like that. The alternative would be to cruise to London for Lords and the Oval, however moorings in London are supposedly much tougher to get hold of.

I'll leave it there - don't be afraid to call time on something like cricket. If you're not enjoying it and it's doing you damage, then consider backing away from it. I just hope you don't end up with feelings of unfinished business. (I never got a 50!)

No comments:

Post a Comment

So much for anonymous commenting ... If you would like to leave a message and don't have a suitable account, there's an email address in my profile.