I know I only look 28, thank you for saying so, but in reality I’m closer to 38. Much closer. Like, I think my wife may have the cake in the oven type close. (Well not quite that close, but you know what I mean.)
And just recently I realised that I started playing senior cricket 25 years ago. And there were also three years of junior cricket before that. Count them folks. That’s 28 years of cricket. That’s a lot of years. (Though I missed one season about 4 years ago and possibly another when I was about 20.) That’s a lot of cricket. A lot of Saturdays (and Sundays sometimes) standing around in the sun or sitting around in the shade. That’s a lot of friends and a lot of guys I’ve known. It’s a lot of bad jokes and a lot of sledging. A lot of sunburn and a lot of sore feet. And shoulders. And Backs. 28 years of a lot.
Unfortunately in my case, it wasn’t a lot of runs or a lot of wickets. You see, I was never all that good. I had my moments. I’ve scored a couple of eighties. And maybe a handful of fifties other than that. I’ve had a couple of four wicket hauls and a handful of three wicket hauls as well. I’ve had about 150 catches. (A few years ago I was a good fielder. There was no doubt about that, but that’s not really what you judge a cricket career on.) So, no, I wasn’t very good.
I think part of my problem came from the fact that I played senior cricket from when I was 12 years old. I grew up in a small town where junior cricket was half an hour away. Senior cricket was as well, but there was always someone I could get a lift off without bugging my parents. I wasn’t terrible for a kid, but I wasn’t one of those freaky 12 year olds that deserves to be playing senior cricket. So I started playing against the men and wasn’t good enough and didn’t have a chance to get good enough. I was never going to play for Australia, but some consistency would have been possible. It would have been nice.
But I’ve loved playing and it’s been a big part of my life.
And now it’s coming to an end. The current season is almost over– about 4 games to go if we make the final– and it will be my last.
Will I be sad to see it all end? Yes. Am I feeling nostalgic? Yes.
Run out without scoring when it was my turn as captain in Under 10s– I had it covered but the ball bounced almost sideways to hit the stumps. With my first senior team I scored 36 runs in a partnership of about 70 to help win a game. Opening the batting one time I smacked the first ball through point for four and I heard my opening partner say to the player-umpire, “I think he saw that one.” Playing frisbee in the lunch break. A day when I dropped four catches.
Or with my second team (I’ve only played for 2), I averaged 50 with the bat and ten with the ball after the first game– it was all down hill from there. My first game as captain I scored 80 and thought, This is easy. It should have been a hundred– that’s never going to happen now. A dashing 45 to help my team win. Bowling figures of 4 for 15 when half the team decided to stay at home to watch the AFL final. Watching as two guys of our guys nearly chased 70 in 10 overs. A semi final where I top scored in both innings to get us through a close game. A final that had one day washed out and we nearly won anyway. Some good wins, some close losses, some fighting draws.
Playing cricket (along with writing) has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember– even that one or two years when I didn’t play I knew I’d play again. I quit once before, in the off season, and played the next year anyway. Not this time. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m going to miss it, but it’s time. There was a time when I used to fight with the bat. Yeah, I wasn’t very good, but I made the bowlers work to get me out anyway. I annoyed bowlers by looking terrible but hanging around. But I’m getting old and Saturdays afternoons are getting longer.
My wife will appreciate my retirement. She’s never asked me to stop playing and she never would, but by the time next season comes around I’ll have three kids so maybe Kelly would like some help on Saturday afternoons– maybe she would like a break on the weekend as well.
So, yes, I’m giving up something I love but I’m getting more of another thing I love. My family. And I might even get more time for writing occasionally.
I’ll check the newspaper for scores next season and I’ll wonder and I’ll dream. But I’ll sit in the shade with my wife. And I’ll play in the sun with my kids. And I’ll write about it afterwards on my blog.
I’ll be okay. No, really, I will.