Hit by a train on return

October 24, 2017

I imagine this is what I looked like hitting a boundary in round one. Picture: AAP

This column has extensively explored and analysed my return to the football field, indoor soccer pitch and mixed netball court this year.

So I think it is only fair that it also makes mention of another career resurrection in progress.

After a six-season absence I once again am playing the gentleman’s game.

A very mediocre junior cricket career with Bacchus Marsh morphed into one senior season (2010-11) in the club’s H-grade side.

With minimal weapons in my bowling or batting arsenals as a 16-year-old, and despite my undying love for the game itself, the desire to continue spending long summer days fielding in the heat of the day quickly faded.

So I turned to lawn bowls.

But as the years went by I began to miss my first love.

You see, the bowling green is not exactly the place for sledging, exuberant celebrations or fierce competitiveness.

It is hard to tell an octogenarian that he ‘‘cuts like a spoon’’ when tucking into his afternoon tea or a tottery grandmother that her bowling arm was ‘‘swinging more than a dunny door at the RSL after curry night’’ when she raked through the head yet again.

The yearning grew strong enough when I moved to Shepparton at the start of the year for me to have a trundle at Tatura’s last few training sessions of the season.

Have you ever bowled for a full hour after not rolling the arm over in close to six years?

The pain I felt for the next week was at its best excruciating, but at its worst it felt like there were a thousand ants drilling into my upper body with tiny jackhammers.

Short of surgically removing my right arm without medical help, all I could do was hibernate through winter and hope my appetite for warm sandwiches and running from fine leg to fine leg would not wane.

Unluckily for Tatura some would say, it did not, and suddenly I was thrust into the round one cauldron of Jim McGregor Shield action — technically a five-grade promotion.

After rocking up late and being told we were fielding, the nerves began to take hold.

Hovering at mid-off for the first few overs, my initial fielding effort left me with little doubt — I was still as unco-ordinated as ever.

When the ball was thrown my way soon after calamity struck, and I seemed unable to push myself through the bowling crease.

While the figures of 0-13 from four overs are nothing to sneeze at, the spell left me disappointed — as they say, first impressions are everything.

The ball rarely ventured towards me for the remainder of the 40 overs, but batting at number 10 gave me the perfect opportunity to swing the willow with freedom, something I had not done at all throughout the first stage of my career.

I lined up the second delivery I faced and cracked it through the field for the second boundary I had ever hit.

Elation was an understatement — I felt like David Warner clubbing South Africa around the MCG under the bright lights of the international stage.

Needless to say, I did not add to the scoreboard after that.

In fact, the delivery which ‘‘cannoned’’ into my middle peg was more Andrew Symonds than Brett Lee, and had bounced in the opposite half of the pitch before descending under my flailing bat to claim my wicket.

It was not a debut to remember, and I was subsequently moved to D-grade after missing round two.

It provided yet another chance for a fresh start, and this one went much closer to plan.

My batting innings never got off the ground, but as I was kitted up waiting to come in I witnessed something many at the ground described as the best D-grade innings they had ever seen when put in to context.

In just his fourth senior cricket match, and only 14 years of age, Xavier Hutchison displayed batting nous far beyond his years to push through an initial spell of uncertainty before striking a boundary on the final ball to bring up an unbeaten century.

Standing not much taller than the stumps themselves, Hutchison seemed to see the ball like a watermelon, hooking and pulling his way into the history books and helping himself to 13 boundaries in the process.

Hutchison’s innings boosted my confidence, along with the team’s, and in my first match on a turf wicket I felt much more comfortable with leather in hand.

Figures of 1-31 from 7.3 overs, a dropped catch and a missed run out were the sum of my second crack in the field, with the blows of the latter two softened by a stirring seven-run victory.

All in all it has been an enjoyable return to the field after a long lay off.

But if I keep feeling as sore as I do on a Sunday morning I could be terrorising the greens of the Goulburn Valley Bowls Division in no time.

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