Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Contemplation and Cricket

Life can get very boggy and slow at times, lonely and low and stuffy. When everyday work seems like a drag and things dont seem to be going anywhere, when there seem to be no friends and no fun, when nothing seems interesting and the mind withers before a flickering screen and the body atrophies into despairing weakness. And then, onto the flickering screen appears a notice, a message offering not just hope and solace, but rebirth. The Staff and Postgraduate Cricket Club is hosting indoor nets. All are welcome for a fee of 2 pounds.

There is trepidation and hesitation, painful memories of awkward and clumsy performances with old comrades who are forced to be polite out of respect for old triumphs shared, humoring the team mate who cant play anymore but has not realized it yet. Painful memories accentuated by the mind shrunk over many cooped up harried and stressful years, needless needless, a youth needlessly thrown away for an adulthood improperly received. Can the old chap play again ? Can the cobwebs of the mind be cleared away by the winds of graceful freshness and sage history that blow and watch over every cricketing green ? They give 22 minds in pure white the chance to test themselves, their subtlety, character, health and peace, and they imbue them with those qualities. Can it happen again ?

Oh the joy to be had from the satisfying sound of ball hitting the sweet spot of the bat and flying away with no perceptible effort, the ease of instinctive movement to play a good shot as if this was what the hands were born to do, feet getting into position, head still, the bat a graceful arc, batting more akin to kenjutsu than baseball, more to do with meditation than with hitting.

There is hesitation, yes, but there is also for some reason the knowledge that this is an idea, a dream, whose time has come. And so the nets come to pass. He marks his run up. Shoulders aching, feet stiff, there is not much pace in the deliveries but the run up seems rhythmic and the action smooth, and the balls land on a good length again and again and again. He can play. And thus the ice is broken, players introduce themselves without cause, the ball seems to snuggle in the hand, there is suddenly an extra nip off the matting wicket. A few balls are dispatched to the boundary and a few beat the bat and then it is time to pad up. This is the real test...this is where things can go wrong, but the mind is surprisingly calm and focused. The bat seems perfect, the first ball comes in and rattles the stumps. The possibility of panicking is considered and discarded. Know where your off stump is, take guard, go through the rituals, look at the ball and cleanse the mind.

A tall fast man races in with a newish red cherry in his hand, it pitches at a goodlength outside off holding its line, but suddenly its path through to the keeper is interrupted by the smooth swing of the bat close beside a front foot that is already in position to hit the ball on the up and through the line and the sweetest sound in the world sends a red blur careening towards the covers before the net stops it. Time stands still, clarity. The bowler at the end of his follow through nods and claps "Good shot sir !"

There is no going back.


Crowscious said...

LOL guess ur crazy about cricket... we had girl's cricket this time at college and i was the wicket-keeper. I dropped two easy catches so I'm a lil scared of the game :(

Psmith said...

Im crazy about it alright..had'nt played in 8 years until I played last weekend :) Im too young to be talking of time periods like those !

and dropping catches can be embarrassing, but the key is to try and not be affected by a dropped catch. if you are, then you'll probably drop many many more :)

Crowscious said...

Yeah tat's what happened. For the next game I just fielded. And dropped another catch. i suck at cricket :( Wow, eight years, that's a long time. Guess even i play more cricket than you LOL

Psmith said...

I should have clarified..I had'nt played "proper" cricket in 8 years. But even gully cricket I have missed out on for too long !

Psycho said...

Thats the beauty of the game ! It inculcates fighting spirit in its own way.

Good going buddy !

Psmith said...

Finally..Finally you take the title that was always yours ! :D

Shoesmith said...

Daz some other lost soul! The authentic ones never accept :D Great writing, adios!

Psmith said...

Adios shoesmith ?
I do hope you will visit again :)

Anil P said...

Very well written. The sound of the ball hitting wood is among the most pleasing in the game of cricket.