Today was my first initiation of what is commonly known as the pinnacle of cricket in our modern world. And as I set foot into headquaters this morning, I made an important discovery, this is a place where cricket is not merely a recreational sport, but a way of life.
This of course, I feel is typified in the salutation of `Yours in cricket`, and I was not a little suprised to see those words on the poster that was displayed on one of the walls of the resception room that I waited.
Nervously, I filled in the most basic of information on the registration form I recieved from the grizzled club secretary wearing, a white and blue polo, emblazoned with CW Cricket across the pectoralis major. As I wrote down my vital statistics, I couldn`t help but ponder, `Is this the right choice?`. To leave school, in your final year to pursue a cricketing career, which, as my father used to say, was like trying to find a parking spot in a crowded shoping center carpark. `All the spots are pretty much taken` he would say, and grin wryly. Mum certainly doesn`t think its the right thing to do. Should have finished school, she said, `Gonna end up like your cousin Dave, a nothing! Is that what you want?`
I try not to think about mum.
Finally the forms are done, and I`m led out to gergeous grounds and training facilities that are available to the CW top players. Nameless faces say Hello, and the atmosphere is warm and friendly. I`m asked if I brought my kit, and if so, would I like a hit in the nets? I anwer in the affirmative. Putting on the spikes, box, gloves, pads (left one first), then the helmet, seems to take longer than usual, as I witness the quality of the cricketers in the nets beside me. One quickie, must be clocking around 140km/h I`m sure. Butterflies flutter in my stomach as I face up in on the flat well used practice turf net. `Relax!` I tell my stomach. It doesn`t.
The first ball made me realise that this is going to be a bit harder than school First XI and club U-18s. A vicious off-cutter that cut me in half and whizzed over middle before I had time to even get the feet moving. The bowler, grinned cheekly at me and said nothing. The same bowler gave me a few tips on moving in line a few balls later when he knocked my off stump out, and also said `Nice shot young`n` when a crisply struck straight drive flew past his ankles on the way out to the center square.
20 mins later, I was exhausted from just having to deal with the quality of the attack. Even so I went out and joined in a bit of fielding, and was pleased with the intensity shown by all. No lazy school kids crappin about how they want to go home rather than chase a ball to the boundary and throw back over the stumps in hot temperatures. Fielding, I`ve always believed, is a joy, and I delighted in taking part in the drills. By the end of training and after a few of my left arm chinamans, which were easily dispatched by the netting batsman, I felt pleased with the day. A litttle out of my league, sure, but I reminded myself I`m 17, and a have a long time to go a long, long way.