Clinging to memory; losing connection

In between the past and the future

Our home ground ten days ago— ready for cricket but no sign of play

There are times in life when you feel a real disconnection from what has happened in the past and what might be ahead.

While riding past my club’s cricket ground earlier in April I felt such a strong feeling of total disconnection. Despite having played there for the last five years it feels like I’ve never played there at all. The logical part of my brain kicks in and says that ‘don’t be stupid’. Of course I have played there — albeit with limited success — I have never made many runs on that beautiful ground! But the feeling nags away anyway.

My mind searches for the nights at the club, following a days cricket where wickets have fallen, runs were made and stories are told of the mishaps, comedy and heartache that took place. But even these are out of reach. When you don’t see people in a long time these memories also fade and the mind starts to fill in the gaps. Snippets flash through my mind, still images, photos taken of interactions and camaraderie on a Saturday night. But they seem to be out of my grasp, I can’t turn them into moving images.

Of all my experiences on the cricket field the only ones that I seem to remember clearly include efforts (and I use that word advisedly!) in the field, especically at our old second ground where the bounce of the ball could be very unpredictable. Why do I remember that but trying to picture myself with bat in hand or bowling a ball seems so odd?

In winter nets, the few we managed before covid-19 changed our lives, my bat broke apart. It was my trusty companion, through many a duck, but it also helped guide me to my first half century in cricket. Thankfully a few more followed too. This breakage means I need a new bat. Six weeks ago, this felt like a simple enough process. Now I look at bats online and on Instagram and I wonder what I would even do with one. Right now, they all look the same, foreign objects with no sense of meaning. I wonder how anyone even uses one?

There is a part of me, deep down inside, that misses playing cricket and knows why. But there is part of me that misses it and doesn’t know why. Feeling like that makes me less connected to the one game that has shaped significant parts of my life. The ground, on my ride past a few weeks ago, looked both beautiful and alien all at the same time. It was like looking back on a life left behind. The connection feels fragile. I only hope it doesn’t get lost completely.

Whatever happens in the future, covid-19 has changed my outlook on life, although I can’t yet say exactly how that translates into day to day life. How will it feel, stepping onto a cricket field again, for a competitive match? My hope stems comes from the past; from walking away from the game for 15 years because I was gay, insecure and thought that sport wasn’t for me, before finding that connection again. So, I cling to my memories and hope that the connection with willow and leather can be rekindled again when we look back on covid-19 and see this as an alien time.

Reflections on LGBTQ+ life and experiences playing club cricket in England — the only Aussie + gay cricketer at the club! Contact: lachlantsmith@gmail.com