Ah, it’s the end of another cricket season. The leaves on the trees beyond the boundary are beginning to turn russet, the wicket now uncut and turning green and the scars made by the block holes the last traces of the summer’s play.
There is a lovely melancholy when stumps are pulled for the last time, a sort of warm late night whisky reflection on the months that have passed, of the glories and the heartaches, of the great cover drives played, of the balls that swung, the deliveries that turned and nicks through slips that were scored in the fading light of a July evening.
All gone now. All done and dusted. All marked down on the scoresheets of time, a detailed history of the summer of ‘19.
Unlike any other sport, cricket uniquely documents life in minute detail. Even if you just play club cricket, what you did on all those days from April to September will be held in posterity in the record books. Every ball you bowled, every ball you faced, is at least potentially recorded by the scorers. This allows us to look back through the records and trigger memories that would have otherwise been lost.
As a teenager, I had a pal who was an obsessive scorer and drew up huge A2 sheets for every match he watched, be it on TV or live. There was no detail he would wish to exclude. Every hour he’d even document the weather if he was at a match, carrying with him a thermometer to make sure he accurately recorded it. If you wanted to know what the weather was like on any day we played, he had the answer.
To the uninitiated his score sheets were a confused jungle of coloured symbols made with art pencils, but to him, they were the perfect document of a day’s cricket. Although, sadly, he’s no longer with us, but as a result of his vigilant documentation, I know that I scored 15 in a game against Grangefield in July 1976, I came in at number four. The innings lasted 32 minutes, I scored four singles, two fours and a three. It was 70 degrees fahrenheit and sunny with a westerly breeze. He even recorded where I hit the ball for those runs.
To look at it all these years later brings it all back. Once again I am 15, nerves in my belly at having to face some fast bowling and being so chuffed to clip one off my pads to the boundary. I would’ve entirely forgotten this otherwise.
If you play football or rugby or tennis or any other sport, there is no such detailed recording of what happened and when, going back decades and decades. But in cricket, it is all laid bare. There’s a scene from your life, right there on the page, recorded in a series of dots, numbers and squiggles.
This is the time in every year to reflect on the past and to look forward to the future, when once again we will make another mark in the great score sheet of life.
Dominic Bess took five before rain and Quinton de Kock held England up.
Numbers, lovely numbers.
The first day was tight. The second was not.
Rabada is certainly a slow learner, but this seems very daft.
England have the edge. Just about. Maybe.
Day one in PE really was a great advert for five-day Test cricket.
Decent signing for Yorkshire.
Paul Stirling sets up a thrilling win for Ireland.