Aberdeenshire cricket May 23, 2010

Blade of glory... or not

With bowling and fielding prospects looking slim, batting may be the only way our hero can keep his place in the team


Hopefully my new blade will mean I spend less time doing the batsman's walk of shame and more time hanging about in the middle, but I doubt it © Rene van Oorschot
 

Well, my cricket season has started off with customary exhilaration; Chelsea won the premiership, Aberdeen avoided relegation and FC Twente were the surprise champions of the mighty Dutch Eredivisie.

Yep, you guessed it, same old Scottish story.

“Game called off on account of rain.”

Spent all day watching footie in pub instead.

“But wait!” I thought, “all is not lost! I still have my Tuesday night 20-over bash in the celebrated Aberdeen Evening Cricket League with my team of tax-dodging rogues, the all-powerful Aberdeen University Unicorns.”

As it turned out, all was indeed lost. My optimism was as misplaced as a Scottish Tory. Despite the beautiful weather (only a few scattered sleet showers and not-quite gale force winds) the university decided that the designated pitch could not quite handle the sheer strain of hosting barbaric events such as gentle evening cricket matches. The pitch, understandably, needed to be maintained in mint condition for proper British sports like lacrosse and Ultimate Frisbee (i.e. sports that form the core of our athletic culture). Needless to say we were in full agreement with the University sports union, exchanged some cordial pleasantries and then departed to go our separate ways with a new-found respect for one another. The bastards.

In the meantime, having partaken in the wonderful national pastime (cricket, not Ultimate Frisbee) for just over half a decade, I have decided to make an outrageous, yet undeniably bold, move. I will finally take the decisive step that has the ability to reduce even the most robust, handlebar-moustachioed opening bowler to a pitiful heap of shuddering nerves. I am going to buy myself a cricket bat.

In the past I have just picked up whatever plank has been most proximal when I make that fateful walk to the middle. Long handle, short handle, heavy, light, pick-up, wood grain etc. None of that even lights the remotest spark of interest in me and every time I have attempted in vain to make that fateful purchase in the past I have been blitzkrieged with eon-long sales pitches that torture my uncomplicated bowler’s psyche. I usually end up leaving the shop in a light-headed daze not dissimilar to the state of mind experienced by American tourists in Amsterdam.

My cunning plan is simply to order my bat online. This will allow me to bypass any geriatric shop assistants lecturing me on the various different types of willow with a dreamy, and occasionally mildly erotic, look in their eyes. Any advice from team-mates shall also be dutifully ignored (the only guidance my captain gave me was to make sure I buy a bat that doesn’t deteriorate through lack of use).

My sudden interest in batting has come about due to the steady deterioration of my bowling aptitude. I am worried about losing my place in the team, and although my captain (an 18-stone giant gracefully named Buck Eskobar Woodman – he has roots in both Columbia and Idaho) is a cynical, awkward and downright abusive character, the thought of playing in our third XI, ruled with an iron fist by a paranoid Glaswegian fishmonger, fills me with a sense of fear and revulsion. Therefore I desperately need to add an extra dimension to my deprived cricketing abilities to justify my place in the side.

“What about fielding?” those of you who have caught wind of my previous batting exploits might ask. Sadly I have the poise and grace of a rabid hippopotamus. It’s bat or bust for me. I have been considering asking the pro for some tips on batting, but for some reason his manner towards me has become a little frosty recently. I cannot imagine why.

If my fortunes do not change soon, I shall be forced to use all my cunning, and the already existing political tension within the team, to encourage an Aberdeenshire 2nd XI coup. I could then take it upon myself to fill the (very large) void left by Buck Oakman. Being in the seat of power will at last allow me to live the cricketing dream: open the batting, field in slips, and bowl the moment the sixth wicket falls, for some tail-end vacuuming.

Not far from what my current captain does, now that I come to think of it.

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