Whilst England have been doing battle in the Middle East and Australia and India have been facing off Down Under, it has been back down to the nets for many village cricketers ahead of the 2012 season which starts in April.
A million miles away from DRS, consistent umpiring, bowling, batting and fielding, the sport still exists in all its romantic glory up and down England’s green and pleasant lands.
But is it all as cosy and pleasant as it sounds? This year, I’m going to be writing about my experiences of playing cricket. Don’t worry, there’ll still be plenty of room for our ad hoc thoughts on proper cricket, too.
To begin, a bit about myself. My name is Miles Reucroft, I’m 26 years old and I started playing cricket for Englefield Green Cricket Club in 2003. I am, to be blunt, a shit cricketer.
But I love the sport. To put my uselessness into context, here are my village cricket career stats:
I have played 63 games, scored a paltry 374 runs at a Chris Martin-esque average of 7.96. My top score is 47. Last season I averaged 4.78. I failed to kick on from the best season of my life in 2010, when I averaged 17.78.
2010 was to me what 2006 was to Mohammad Yousuf. I can only hope that I can reach those heady heights once more.
The worrying thing is, my role in Englefield Green’s 2nd XI is as a batsman. As a bowler I have sent down 35.3 overs, conceded 245 runs and taken 11 wickets. That’s a rather handy average of 22.27. A not so handy economy Rte of 6.9… My best figures are 3/10 and I’ve bowled one maiden.
Looking at that, I should probably bowl more. But this being village cricket, I’m there to fill a role/hole/make up the numbers. Specialists don’t exist in the same way that they do in proper cricket. Our keeper is usually someone who has done it before and owns a pair of webbed gloves, for example. Our opening batsmen are decided on either seniority, or ‘we might as well send you out early… see you in five’.
I’ve done a bit of opening recently.
So to 2012. It began at Lord’s last Wednesday with a two hour net session after work. The facilities have just been spruced up there and they really needed it. Last year you may as well have been batting in the car park given how thin the matting had become.
This year there is lush, thick green matting down and the lighting has been improved. It has done nothing for my bowling but hopefully it’ll aid the batting.
I then netted with my club on Sunday, having just recovered from the aches and strains of Wednesday.
So far, so good. Plenty to work on, plenty of excitement, no talent. There are many, many more like me.
I’ll be documenting the season with EGCC 2nd XI and the games that I play in (I’m joint captain for this season, so I’m unlikely to get dropped. It’s also equally unlikely that we’ll have 11 players every week).
I’ll bring the inside line; from the hangovers and the hours spent chasing a ball around the park to the glory of winning the occasional match and hitting the odd boundary. I’m sure you’ll see that the romantic notion of village cricket doesn’t really exist as I trawl through the Surrey Cricket League Division Three.
By Miles Reucroft