Too late?

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.

taking a shot

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.

J Southerton 2nd from left center row (with a rather sinister looking WG Grace 2nd from right)

J Southerton 2nd from left center row (with a rather sinister looking WG Grace 2nd from right)

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!

James Southerton - he made his debut at an age that all international cricketers these days would have retired by!

James Southerton – he made his debut at an age that all international cricketers these days would have retired by!


Filed under Australia, bowling, cataloguing, Cricket, Cricket records, England, History, MCC, test cricket, WG Grace, women's cricket

8 responses to “Too late?

  1. Good luck Zoe, looks like short boundaries !! and you need to get the kit sorted out – no protection at all. LOL.

  2. Hi Zoe. Good for you for having a go! 🙂 I can’t say anything about batting but bowling… Bowling is rarely anything to do with strength – beyond endurance, of course. It’s about arm speed and type of motion. For example, a popular motion can be compared to that of the Praying Mantis. The mantis has negligible strength, but it can cause huge damage by speed and motion. By using both the elbow and the wrist as pivot points, you get a kind of slingshot effect. The mantis grabs that way, but the bowler releases the ball instead. You can use a ‘run up’ of just two or three strides if you get the speed of arm rotation right – and it’s not even necessary to use a full 360 degrees rotation! You can try without a ball: tuck your wrist back so your hand is at 90 deg to it – draw your arm back so your bent fingers touch your shoulder – without trying to exert ANY strength, simply make your arm rotate forward, back up behind you, and flick your wrist forward when it reaches your eye level. Do that until you can feel the speed! It’s a bit like wagging your hand until your fingers blur – very fast but no real strength-effort. When you’re ready, find yourself a good target – around the area of the three stumps, an OLD cricket ball (it won’t bounce so far when it hits!), and somewhere safe to practice. Don’t try bowling from a shorter distance! Always bowl the 22 yards – that’s important – and never mind how far the ball goes – just try to hit the target. As your arm speed increases, the ball will naturally go further, Also, the point at which you release the ball with that little wrist flick will determine how far the ball goes before bouncing. And I’d suggest that you practice alone! Nerves will reduce the flight distance amazingly! When you find your top speed, you’ll find that you can reach that with your arm at around your waist or even down at your side at the start! And all without a huge output of strength – just technique. It’s tiring, but only because you’ll actually burn more calories like that than if you have massive pectorals and arm muscles and hurl the ball at some insane speed using brute strength.

    Sorry this was so long, but I’d be so happy if I could persuade you to give bowling another try! Oh, just one word on batting – speed of bat is often more important than arm strength, again 🙂 Cricket is, first and foremost, a sport of technique, not strength.

    • That sounds like good advice. Particularly the bit about practicing alone! I did feel a bit self-conscious last week. I might see if I get get a net session here at Lord’s on my own.

      • Thanks – the solo work is just until you get the hang of it, and can triumphantly unveil your new skill 🙂 Then you can start picking your victims amongst the batters LOL The main thing to remember is: Have Fun! 😉

  3. Zoe, good to hear you’ve had a go at batting and bowling. I, too, found 22 yards, rather too far to bowl – and rather too short when I was batting at number 11 for Newport Fourths 20 years ago. I reckon you’ll give Southerton’s record a good hard crack.

  4. Zoe, it’s never too late! I started playing at 35, and a few years later I am still going. My high score is only 6, but that’s partly because I don’t do enough practice… if I did all the homework our coach gave me I might be into double figures by now! It’s lots of fun, though, and a great insight into the game. One of the things with women’s cricket is that you can usually manage to get a game fairly easily; if you’re ever in Melbourne we’re almost always after an extra player or two.

    • That is good to know! Good luck reaching your double figures. Melbourne’s quite a long way for me to come for a game, although my sister lives there so you never know, I might pop by sometime.

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