At the end of last summer we faced a tough decision. Should J carry on being a member of our local village cricket club or should we go elsewhere. The advantages of staying put were considerable; training, home matches and presentation evenings would all be walking distance from where we live. The village has a strong team and tend to win leagues. J has made some good friends over the years.
However, when we put the bare facts on the table, so to speak, we concluded that of the four matches he played for his age group he was only allowed to bowl a maximum of two overs per game for two of the matches, bowled one over after protest from us and didn't bowl at all in one match because he was deemed too fast for the opposition.
Call me old fashioned but aren't the pads and helmets designed to protect the batsman? Not to mention the bat.
The membership fee would not have been worth paying if he had only played his own age group (call it nearly a tenner per over). For reasons we still don't understand or accept he was never chosen to play in the next age up; the under 13s which presumably would mean he could bowl full pace and not be held back. Apparently this team was full. As luck would have it our under 15s manager thought J was good enough to bowl in his team and so J did play more than 4 matches last year, but as an eleven year old in a fifteens team he rarely got a chance to bat.
I'm sure these are familiar issues to a lot of families. Through the county circuit we've met quite a few people that have similar problems. It seems that you can't please all of the poeple all of the time. We have the rule book and nowhere does it say that a bowler can't bowl if he's too fast!
So, J decided himself that he would like to try another club and thankfully he had some good friends at an independent cricket academy he goes to that suggested somewhere. Early in in the season, with his new team he had to face his previous club in an away match. J was made captain which surprised some of the bully boys we left behind. J's team lost but it was the verbal stuff that upset him, it seems that if you leave a cricket club you are a traitor! He came in for the same rubbish at the home match too which they lost but only by a small margin. When J went into bat at number 3 (much higher than he'd ever played before) he batted like I've never seen him bat before. We're talking huge shots that were nearly sixes, safe fours. He got to his retirement stage (they have to retire at 25 runs) in no time at all. I think he surprised them all.
Later I asked him where the heck that had come from and he said that they were still going on about him being a traitor and he got a little bit mad. That is clearly what he needs to do before he goes out to bat... get a little bit mad!
As it happens he got the batting award this year, 147 runs in six matches, makes his average 70 something. He was rather pleased to get this one as he is really a bowler. He pointed out that he would never have got it at his old club because he always played low down the batting order. I think he has enjoyed the new club for other reasons too. Not least having a Notts player presenting his trophy.
So today he has to, once again, bat and bowl for his life. Well it seems that way to his Dad. They are at the county trials. While I have tea in bed Jake has to impress the selection committee enough to get in the team again. Goodness knows how many boys go each year, and only 18 get chosen to go to the training. After the training four get dropped and the squad of 14 remain. It's a tough procedure, especially for the four who get dropped because by then they will have forked out £150 for winter training and probably about the same again for the training kit. I'm keeping my fingers crossed because it's a great supplement to J's club cricket. As far as J is concerned, the more cricket the better!