However, I hear leather on willow and the lull of the cricket arena. As I lean forward to drive an overpitched ball straight into the hands of the gully fielder, I feel at ease and genuinely happy. Village cricket is a game for all and below is a guide in how to excel:
Sledging is the art of distracting the batsman by keeping noise up between balls. Have you even played cricket if you haven’t uttered the immortal words: “let’s send those bails to Wales”? Every village cricketer has a few of these genius quips in their arsenal. If you’re commenting on “village” kit, strange technique or, crucially, a play-and-miss, any bit of sledging is compulsory to truly embrace the spirit of the game. Just make sure it’s in good spirits.
One could be forgiven for thinking cricket is played in full whites with cricket spikes, but in the village community this isn’t the case. You are likely to see coloured trainers, especially if the pitch is astro. One junior will have put his last pair of white socks in the wash, bashfully turning up in his black socks, blaming his mother when he inevitably gets stick in the changing room. It’s even possible to see the occasional white dress shirt. Wicket keeping pads are optional for keepers and I’ve seen hoodies worn underneath whites.
Appeal for anything that hits the pad. If you’re fielding at square leg, even better. Umpires won’t like you, they’ll despair when the ball that wouldn’t hit a second set of stumps causes the fielding team to erupt into a barrage of incomprehensible noise, but you will feel like you’re close to a wicket. That’s all that matters.
Although everyone brings their own during COVID, tea is the most quintessential part of cricket. Anything by Mr Kipling, scones, sandwiches, cocktail sausages and fruit is highly encouraged. Squash is almost compulsory too but the ratio is crucial. Too strong and you’ll be shaking in the field, too weak and your day is ruined.
If you follow all these steps you are on your way to being a cricket badger. Other important things include throwing your bat after you’re given out LBW, exclaiming it was “sliding down”, taking your helmet off after scoring 50, turning up nursing a hangover and fielding with your feet.