Kids. I have nothing against them, honestly. I even have one myself.
But when the time comes for her to take my prized No. 8 slot (probably when she is eight) and bowl my allocated quota of boundary fodder, There Will Be Words. This is because children have been the bane of my cricketing career ever since I first realised how much fun it is to try and deposit offspinners over the deep midwicket boundary. And if it wasn't for a succession of annoying little brats taking my place in the middle order and leaving me to come in and face the returning demon fast bowlers, I might have managed to hit a six by now. Worse yet, if not for kids I am convinced my career batting average would be well into double figures.
This is purely a cricketing conundrum. In the dark winter months of infidelity to cricket I relish the sight of a child in the sports arena. When playing squash against teenie-boppers, I consider the match a complete failure if the young blighter doesn't demolish at least two rackets, threaten to throttle the referee (probably one of his parents) and leave the court in floods of tears. I won't go into what happens on the football pitch, but a reference to the physical attributes listed in my description may offer an indication of what awaits youngsters rash enough to venture near me. You may think I'm a cold, heartless bully but I have no compunction in putting kids in their rightful place. The first reason for this is that I went through it all myself. I smashed rackets, swore at my parents, sobbed in defeat (alright that was yesterday) and picked myself off the turf after another nutmeg gone wrong more times than I care to remember, and consider myself a better person for it. The second reason is sweet, sweet revenge for the suffering inflicted on me by cricket kids.
"I have even contemplated taking up smoking just so I can start palming the odd cigarette to our star Ireland Under-15 opening bowler (those overs are mine, mine I tell you!)"
These cricket kids are equipped with pristine kit, perfect cover drives and bowling actions that would have Bob Willis salivating into his pint of bitter. Combine that with fizzing arms, youthful complexions and boundless optimism for the future and you can see why I despise them. They are everything I am not.
It's even worse in places like Ireland and Holland, because every single child plays for their representative national age group team. Only to be replaced eventually by antipodeans who - not content with taking our women and our jobs - take our spots on the full national cricket teams too. That, however, is a story for another day.
So how do I cope with them? At my level of cricket they are endemic after all. There is only one viable option: corrupt them. Their first drink, their first peek at a naughty mag, advice on what to say to that girl loitering idly by the boundary ropes? They can count on me. I have even contemplated taking up smoking just so I can start palming the odd cigarette to our star Ireland Under-15 opening bowler (those overs are mine, mine I tell you!). The ploy is cunningly devilish, the kids think I am their best pal and might even go easy on me in nets, and I live in hope that they will soon realise there are far better things they could be doing on a Saturday than shunting me down the batting order and taking my overs.
But why this bitterness you say? Surely I had a fair crack of the whip when I was a kid, displacing deserving adults and donning the national jersey to swan off on fun little trips to lose to English minor counties?
I took up cricket when I was 18.