The start of the season is time of mixed emotions: yes, it’s nice to see all those people you don’t see much of during the winter, but also cricket tends to remind the human body that it has more muscles possible of excruciating pain than you remembered from the previous year, especially as one reaches the twilight of one’s career.
I am at the stage now where if a piece of kit disintegrates, I have to weigh up the economics of getting a replacement, especially as cricket equipment doesn’t come cheap, or should I say, decent cricket equipment doesn’t come cheap.
Am I going to get significant use from a new bat since I’m plummeting down the order as my eyesight goes, and I’m going to struggle to justify a financial outlay of around £200 to the wife when our daughter needs a new pair of school shoes and money for her school trip to the theatre?
This can be an expensive time for a cricketer, or a cricketer’s parents as inevitably kit has remained untouched in a kit bag for six months or so and has finally succumbed to the perils of mildew and whatever else lurks in the depths of a player’s coffin (I really am showing my age now).
Kids (and most men, let’s be honest) will always want the latest stuff, hence the financial success of each new Premier League football kit each season. Cricket is no different but the trouble is that the game involves quite a lot of stuff in order to play the sport.
Essentials must be a box (you only share one of those in dire emergencies), a bat (bats are individual beings and it feels a bit uncomfortable to borrow someone else’s and the potential guilt of breaking someone else’s doesn’t bear thinking about), a helmet (no-one wants to put on a sweaty helmet and bat in it), pads (same as the helmet reason), cricket boots (you wouldn’t borrow someone else’s shoes to go to work in, would you?) and thigh pad (same sweaty reason as helmet and pads). That’s going to cost you the best part of a limb and a bit, and you haven’t even got any clothes on yet.
I make the game sound like an expensive habit, but it doesn’t need to be. Kit can be cherished and made to last for many years. Take my bat as an example – it hardly has a mark on it. Clubs can normally find kit for people to borrow, certainly at junior level, and normally at senior level.
So if you fancy getting out of the house on the weekend then why not try cricket? You’ll discover muscles you never knew you had and will curse their existence for days after the first (and probably second, third and fourth) game of the season, but you’ll have had a bit of fun and spent time with a decent bunch of people.
Or you could just support your local team – go and watch, offer to help out. You’ll find that most clubs in any sport will have about five people who do most of the running of that club. If you are prepared to offer to help, they’ll only be too pleased.