Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Trials of Age

Oh my God, I ache this morning. Ten years ago, first cricket match of the season just meant a sore shoulder on Monday - by 10pm last night I could barely move or keep my eyes open. In the cold light of day - sore calves, hamstrings, sides, back, shoulders and even stomach muscles. Good job the Marathon means I get some early 'anaesthetic' this morning. Weather's disappointing, from a spectator's point of view at least - it's probably perfect for the runners.

Good game yesterday, the opposition declared on 188 and we squeezed home with one ball and three wickets to spare. I was 12 not out at the end, having gone out at number seven with 40 needed from 10, and I did a fair job during the run chase - I kept my end up while the guy who was set scored runs, and when he got out I took on the senior partner duties when the new batsman was struggling to lay bat on ball. Runs were not easy to come by - the pitch was slow and the bowling fairly tight - so I pushed the field back with a couple of controlled lofts over the top and then ran quick singles to the withdrawn men. Having said that, I reckon I was extremely lucky to survive an LBW shout to my first ball - hit me on the foot and it seemed a fairly straight ball to me. Still, he was the oppo's umpire, so no foul play - I do take a one leg guard, and I didn't really move my feet, so perhaps it was just missing leg stump.

My fielding was good, made a couple of really good stops - no catches came my way. Bowling was weird - I came on first change and the first two overs were good, getting heavy in-swing, albeit straight from the hand rather than the more dangerous late movement. But then a really weird thing happened - I loosened up, and my shoulder was fine - no pain or resistance - in a way it hasn't been in the five years I've been playing here. As a result, I completely lost my timing - I was releasing the ball either too early or too late, which meant either rank full tosses or pitching the ball near my toes. Embarrassingly, I got their opener out when he top edged a ball that bounced twice straight to mid-on. Not my finest ever wicket, but I'm off the mark for the season. I need to get in the gym and tighten up my now overly loose shoulder muscles, and somehow I have to get some bowling practice - re-model my action AGAIN for the new state of my shoulder, or at least get the timing right. Unfortunately, after next weekend I then can't play in May - on successive weekends I have a stag do in Madrid, a day at the Test Match, a wedding, and a business trip to Singapore. Not going to do my rhythm any good at all...

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