Preparation for the 2015 season started very early for me, as far back as October. I’d joined a new side, Perranarworthal, and winter nets started in October and ran all the way through until a couple of weeks before the season, providing me with my best practice period yet. The standard at indoor nets was little more varied than I was used to, but I quickly realised that the indoor pitch was a lot more bouncy than the outdoors pitches, which was a shame. There was one very good all-rounder who was the fastest bowler and probably the most promising attacking batsman, a youngish bowler who was capable of getting some impressive swing, a very promising young keeper, a Cornwall County ladies player and a whole host of canny medium-pace bowlers (my nemesis). Of course, there were more people than that, with many great characters, and it is fair to say that I absolutely loved the club (and still do). The ground is great, the people are great and the atmosphere is really positive. After a lot of work by all involved with the club, Perran is starting to stand tall once again.
More than anything, Perran taught me to enjoy my cricket again, something that I lost at my previous Cornish club. Everyone was exceptionally accommodating, especially as a non-driving student, even allowing me to lead some training sessions (which perhaps, in hindsight, was an overeager mistake on my part). My performances, however, were dreadful. I looked like a million dollars in the nets over the Winter. I felt good, I was coping with everything thrown at me, and was capable of middling the ball nearly on demand. Good times. Starting out in the first team, I didn’t really get a chance to prove myself, and after a while the novelty of being a specialist fielder wore off. I jumped down into the twos expecting to get some runs on the board, take a few wickets here and there, and more than anything, learn.
With a really promising young captain at the helm (who has had an incredible season by all accounts in his 1st season of captaincy), the team put together a run of decent performances early on in the season, and we did well against some strong sides. I, however, was faring miserably. I wasn’t miffed about not getting a bowl- the pitches weren’t quite there yet- but I was given so many opportunities to score runs against attacks that I felt like I should be really hurting. Something wasn’t right at least; I didn’t ‘get’ the bounce off the pitch at all, and I couldn’t even deal with average medium pace. Suffice to say, my stats for that part of the season were dreadful. 5 innings for just fourteen runs is the stuff of nightmares.
Perhaps mercifully, my season down there was cut short by a change in personal circumstances then sent packing back up to Warwickshire. I’ve been playing for Rugby for a long time, and was glad to join their ranks again. Naturally, after being away for so long I was put in the 3rd team. I wasn’t really feeling it at all, but in my first game back I turned up and was asked to open, and so I strapped by pads on, told number 3 and 4 to get ready and made my way slowly to the middle. The bowling was pretty dreadful to be honest, and playing on astro probably didn’t help them either. I scored a once bounce for over square leg early on, and thought ‘hmmm… I don’t feel too bad here’. After a while I felt even better, and managed to flay the bowling to all parts, including a through glorious on-drives, a pretty nice clip over the bowlers head and plenty of pulls and hooks. I think I only scored one boundary on the offside in the entire innings! My back sore and my mind tiring, I was absolutely stunned when I genuinely made it to my first ever century. A rather subdued celebration followed as we declared on 300-odd instantly, but I can’t describe what the innings meant to me. Scoring a hundred had been a goal of mine since I was about 8, and passing that landmark felt very good indeed. I was 101*, and I was a very happy man.
Then the strangest thing happened. I became completely demotivated by my century. It was like I had achieved something I had wanted to do for so long, and now there was nothing left to do, or nothing else to give. Regardless, it wasn’t good. I moved up into the twos, and I think it is fair to say that I ‘found my level’ of cricket, if that makes sense. The standard seemed to perfectly suit my development at the moment and I enjoyed every hard-fought game. I made a couple of gritty knocks in touch situations- a 21* recovery effort after a lot of wicket fell perhaps being the highlight, but nothing outstanding. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the standard in the twos and could feel myself learning in every game. Something still wasn’t right though, as the occasional misfield crept into my game. I remember misjudging a catch terribly at Handsworth (my favourite ground), resulting in it sailing for 6 over my head, and then actually dropping one in the deep when I was well set later in the season. I never drop catches, so this was a bit of a shock.
As for bowling, I FINALLY got a bowl in virtually my last game of the season, and took three wickets for six runs in just 15 balls. Undervalued, honestly. I don’t think I played much after that with a lot of personal things to sort, so I bowled 15 balls all season, which isn’t great. I didn’t train anywhere near as much as I normally would though, allowing personal things to impact my game, and perhaps I got out of the season what I put in this year.
My statistics for Rugby were good this year though. I only played 6 games, and made 166 runs at an average of 41.5, which places me in the top 4 in the whole club. Admittedly, others who played a lot more than me have been hard done by there. At least I know that somewhere in there is a good player.
To be honest, I’m not sure if I will play cricket again next season. I’ve always played cricket but there are parts of it that I’m starting to tire of to say the least, and perhaps it is time to try something new. Maybe the bug will bite again, but at the moment, that may be it for a while. Maybe I’ll have a go at T20 for once. Looking to the future, I’m considering trying ultimate frisbee, tennis, squash and shooting. I have a taster session lined up for the new university rifle club so I am really looking forward to giving that a go… It is something very different, at least!