It's been a long, long time since I have had any active involvement with cricket. I played at school and enjoyed it far more than football or rugby. In those sports I would be a grudging addition to a team and would spend almost all my time running around the field, avoiding the ball and thinking up ways to avoid the dreaded post match shower. A teacher once berated me for not getting covered in mud like all the others. He insisted I had to shower with the others anyway but I snuck off and went to the library. It wasn't that I was anti-social, I was just fed up with being forced to do something I did not enjoy.

At our school you were not taught the rules of any sports as you were supposed to know these already. If you asked a question you got ignored. This meant you instantly did not fit in which meant when teams were being picked you were always in the last two. No one would pass to you and no one would discuss tactics with you. After a few weeks of this I gave up and subverted the games as much as I could in the hope they would just give up on me completely and let me do what I really wanted. In those days that meant, read in the library, make movies with the school's cine camera or hang out in the music block, trying out the instruments.

But cricket was different. I knew the rules, just, and I liked the pace of the games. My bowling was execrable but my batting was pretty good, so I could just about manage to feel part of the game. As a fielder I was a dreadful waste of space, having seen someone get a high velocity ball in the face. I went as far out as I could.

School did nothing for my love of sport. Once I was out though I slowly began to appreciate playing squash, fencing and tennis. My mum was, and is, a huge rugby and tennis fan so I had someone Who could pass that excitement on to me. It just took a while to shake off the bad feelings school helped set up.

Last year I was watching a video for a Neil Cowley Trio tune which features a cricket match. The appeal of the game returned and, frankly, all that shitty schools stuff was a long time ago. So now I have something new to enjoy.


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