If I ever write a book about being a cricket dad I will call it The Agony and the Ecstasy. Yes, I know that’s already the title of a book – Irving Stone’s 1961 blockbuster biographical novel about Michelangelo.
But that title perfectly sums up the experience of being parents of a junior cricketer. Our son is 23 now and doesn’t play cricket anymore, so weekends are relatively free of angst.
However, driving past a suburban field recently, seeing the cricketers out there under the baking sun, brought it all flooding back.
Our lad played club and school cricket for about eight years and we never missed a match.
Saturday mornings began early, stacking chairs in the car boot along with the cricket kit, making a thermos of tea and adding some nibbles for the long and sometimes arduous mornings.
Junior cricket took us places we had never been before in Brisbane, from lush inner-city venues to far-flung, desiccated suburban grounds.
There were weekday afternoons spent in the nets at school or our local park with me working on my bowling, reliving my glory days, which weren’t that glorious. As a boy I played cricket for a couple of years at King George V School in Hong Kong. I was a very nervous cricketer.
As a batsman I sometimes ended up just holding the bat up in front of my face so I didn’t get hit.
Our son Hamish was a handy little cricketer at times and enjoyed the game as a social outing mostly. Which is not to say he wasn’t competitive, although he wasn’t as competitive as us. He wasn’t too stressed when he got bowled out but we would be apoplectic.
I did a lot of pacing when he was at the crease and I had company. The dads seemed to be worse than the mums. My wife was often too busy scoring to fret.
The agony came on those days when Hamish got to the crease and was dismissed immediately.
The ecstasy ensued on others when he wielded the willow with confidence and aplomb or distinguished himself fielding. And the day his bowling resulted in a hat trick is etched in my memory forever.
Also, I remember an afternoon match in the grounds of Marist College Ashgrove when the runs came thick and fast. My late mum was there to witness Hamish score into the thirties, not out.
At stumps he sauntered off grinning like a Cheshire Cat as his grandmother congratulated him. You never forget days like that. But I can remember days of agony too. But hey, that’s cricket.
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