Last week I had my first go at cricket. I’m 35 years old and have been a cricket fan for 8 years but until last week had never bowled, caught or hit a ball. I have never intentionally avoided it, the opportunity just never arose, we didn’t play cricket at school, I never came across any friends playing in the park. I’ve actually been eager to have a go for sometime, but until now have never known anyone who has the gear.
So how did it go? Well I wasn’t very good! The batting was OK, although I think my friend was bowling quite easy ones at me, I did really enjoy the batting I loved the feel and sound of leather striking willow with a nice firm thwack, and didn’t even mind that I ended up with bruises all over my right palm (probably due to poor technique). The bowling was way harder. It feels so weird having to keep your arm straight. I founding attempting a run up too difficult, running while doing a windmill thing with my arms – my limbs wouldn’t stay coordinated. I tried it without a run up but couldn’t seem to generate enough power to get the ball all the way down the pitch (22 yards is actually a really long way). My friend eventually gave up trying to teach me a run up and let me bowl my balls from half way down the pitch, which made it easier. I think I’m more of a batsman.
So what’s next for my cricketing career? Have a left it too late to realise my obvious potential and take my talent on to the international stage? I would have thought so…until I came across James Southerton while cataloguing some old photographs. Our cataloguing team here at the MCC are working our way though a massive collection of old photos, some still currently completely uncatalogued.
I’ve been working on this rather marvelous photo of the United South of England Eleven taken in 1875. I was entering the details of all the figures onto our persons index and was very interested to read that James Southerton was (and remains) the oldest test debutant. He made his debut at the age of 49 years and 119 days! He did OK too, taking 3 wickets in a match against Australia, he also played in the following test before retiring from the international game to run a pub. The important thing is it means there’s hope for me. If I spend the next 15 years sorting out my bowling action, get my limbs coordinated and manage to get the ball all the way to the other end maybe I could be the one to break his record. It’s something to aim for. Wish me luck!