Life as a village cricketer

A new year, and a new season is almost upon us. It’s a time for optimism and hope, with the memory of last season’s disappointment and despair all but evaporated.

Jacques Kallis has scored 13,000 Test runs with a Slazenger bat.

I fell some way short of my own meagre targets last season so I’ve done what all bad workmen do and blamed my tools. Well, one tool specifically: my bat.

My willow wand wasn’t weaving its magic in 2012. The ball rarely found the boundary and, truth be told, the bat rarely found the ball. I’m absolving myself of all blame. Definitely not my fault. No way.

Half the fun of an upcoming season is the perusal of new equipment. ‘I’d look great in that helmet,’ or ‘I couldn’t possibly fail to score runs with that bat.’ Then an e-mail arrived in my inbox enquiring as to whether or not I’d be interested in giving a new model for 2013 a run out.

‘Of course’, ‘definitely’ and ‘thank you very much’ were sent back. A couple of weeks later a parcel arrived and within it laid my new weapon and the thought, ‘I couldn’t possibly fail to score runs with that bat.’

The Slazenger V100 Ultimate.

She’s a beauty. The finest English willow, with a Torsioned and Sprung (TAS) system of twisted oak inserts in the edges that pretty much guarantees the boundaries that my fluent stroke play demands… Ahem, I mean the mahoosive edges this thing has should mean a couple of my flays outside off carry the ball over the slips, rather than to them at waist height.

Slazenger is a brand synonymous with cricket, having been involved in the game since 1881. Such luminaries of the game as W.G Grace, Sir Don Bradman, Geoffrey Boycott, Sir Viv Richards and Miles Reucroft have used their bats. Jacques Kallis recently stroked his 13,000th Test run with a Slazenger.

The bat has now been run in, oiled and faced and is ready for action. I can hardly wait. Nets down at Englefield Green Cricket Club commence on January 27 and I’m looking forward to putting the V100 to proper use, as opposed to as an ornament in the corner of the living room.

My partner doesn’t share my appreciation for its beauty, but then what does she know? She isn’t the one who’s been playing imaginary forward defensives, cover drives and reverse sweeps on the rug with it.

It is exceptionally weighted and the pick up is fluent and light, as I prefer. The sweet spot, so I’m told, is slightly lower down the bat than my previous blade, but I will be able to discover that properly in due course. Whilst knocking it in it felt as though it has a huge middle, which can’t be a bad thing!

The thick edges are also an advantage to someone like me and it’ll be interesting to see how the TAS inserts play out and the difference they make in practice.

I’ll be waiting to see how I go in nets before setting any targets for 2013. There’s a real threat that I might assume the captaincy of Englefield Green’s 2nd XI so that will have an effect, too. Will I be a captain like Alastair Cook or Michael Clarke who scores runs by the bucket load upon assuming the leadership, or will by own batting suffer?

Plenty to look forward to this year folks. Plenty. I hope you enjoy my Life as a Village Cricketer diaries!

By Miles Reucroft

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