A Good Net

Being a cricket fanatic and soon to happen, Pakistan tour of England 2020, I am excited, and my memory goes back to the days when I was an avid player. I will divide this article in 2 parts. Here is the first one:

This is my second net and I am praying it’s going to be better than my first one. I feel properly kitted out this time: my own bat. It’s comfortable and it doesn’t feel as though it’s dragging my wrist out of its socket. A ball comes down and the bottom of the bat flies outwards. “What the f*** are you doing? You are holding it too tight and your head’s sticking out at a funny angle. God – I wish there were a mirror in here.” I am glad there isn’t.

Relax, I tell myself. If you do not relax at the crease you won’t be able to do anything. I balance my bat in my hand. I stop trying to bend my knees and I bend the top of my spine instead. My head is over the bat and I am completely still. When the ball approaches, I find that to my utter astonishment my feet are moving on their own.

Lesson 1: The importance of feet

How often have I heard commentators complain that a batsman isn’t moving his feet? But did I really understand what it meant before this moment? No, not really. You have to experience it – you have to know how good it feels when it happens. And the fact that if you don’t do it, how you’re never in the right place to hit the ball; and the fact that if you do then you’re a long way towards playing a shot.

Once I’m into my rhythm we change from a practice ball to a real one. It’s the first time I’ve faced a proper cricket ball in years. I feel I should be scared, but I’m not. I like the way it bounces – somehow it’s more true. I like the sound it makes on my bat when I defend. I’m not quite so sure when one rears up just at the moment I lose concentration and hits me in the stomach.

Lesson 2: Cricket balls are not frightening

Provided you watch them and you’re properly padded up they can’t really hurt you. It’s generally your fault if you aren’t quick enough or focused enough to get out of the way.

Despite my best endeavors my bat still isn’t coming down straight. I know that it should. I know exactly where it should end up, but it still isn’t happening. It means I am not as effective as I should be; I am bowled through the gate on more than one occasion and a couple of balls edge off to where the slips would be. I think it’s because my elbow is in the wrong place, or possibly because I am too conscious of not hitting my pads which seem enormous. But I do know I’ll have to sort it out.

Before I move on to second part, you should download Pakistan vs England 2020 schedule and wait for my next article.