Rainbows and run outs — you have to laugh or you would cry
Sometimes you have to write something off, a thing, a task, a moment in your life — and this season feels like one of those moments. I turned up, I attempted to play but I found yet new and innovative ways to get myself out, usually for less than ten, often without scoring. After Saturday’s diabolical run out for zero, a complete brain freeze and misjudgment on my behalf, I could only laugh as I walked off. In all honesty I couldn’t have scripted it to be any more ridiculous. Having not been run out since playing as a young boy some thirty years ago I’ve managed to get run out 5 times this season. I’m not entirely sure how it has happened. Lots of good fielding, plenty of direct hits but some serious poor judgement by yours truly as well.
My quest to score runs has come to a shuddering halt this year, despite scratching my way around the crease for eight on Sunday I’ve now had my worst season for the club with the bat. Oddly enough it is similar to my first season at the club which I didn’t think was too bad. Expectations and self belief (or lack of?) have changed my thinking and what I want to achieve. Next season we go again.
I joined Weoley Hill Cricket Club five seasons ago as a bowler and someone who could do okay with the bat. I had never set the world alight with the bat but had always been fairly competitive with the ball. Over my time at the club I became a batsman and bowled less and less. Sometimes my batting justified the label but I’ve learnt it isn’t easy. One mistake can be so costly when you are batting. I know I can still offer something but I recognise the need to work on a few things to improve both my technical and mental game. I took a few steps towards that yesterday and have an off-season ahead to work on it further.
In a surprise I’ve had the opportunity to bowl the last couple of weeks and it all came back to me fairly quickly. I swiftly got back into a rhythm and was as economical as I had hoped. I picked up a couple of wickets and could have had a few more. It felt good to bowl again and be part of a wider team effort. Hopefully I can bowl again next season, and contribute in an all round capacity, whatever team I end up playing in regularly.
There have been some noticeable changes around the club in the last month. Since the rainbow laces campaign more rainbow laces and grips have started to appear down at the cricket club. It has been incredibly empowering for me and all have been a complete surprise. Outward and public displays of support and solidarity mean a lot. I think one or two fellow players have found it challenging, or maybe it is more a sense of bemusement. I’m sure some are thinking ‘why would a straight guy want to wear rainbow laces or have a rainbow bat grip?’ — their faces say it all. But it has provoked some discussion and it always had a positive vibe. I firmly believe the more allies the better, it really can change attitudes.
I want more LGBT people to feel comfortable around cricket clubs, whether as players or supporters, and thankfully my club and teammates are being active parts of that jigsaw.
Being in the media and then being recognised on the back of it is a really strange experience. Sunday’s opposition quickly picked up my appearance in a recent rainbow laces article for Sky Sports and it lead to an amusing and lighthearted conversation, mainly me telling them that I have barely scored a run since the article was published, but also the fact that if I am masquerading as an overseas pro I am pretty dreadful at it! It is these types of experiences that make playing cricket so positive and why Weoley Hill is my cricketing home now.
All of this came on the back of the rainbow laces campaign which goes to show how positive these campaigns can be. I hope that the ECB, county cricket boards and Stonewall continue to promote equality in this way.
So what do I make of the season? It has been a roller coaster. Injury, poor form and lack of confidence have dominated but some small shoots of growth have appeared in the last few weeks, something to build on and take into preseason training. But by far the best part of the season has been the growing support in the club and the wider cricketing community for the LGBT community. Connecting to other gay cricketers has made a real difference too. There are bound to be more of us out there so I hope the 2020 season continues the positive strides forward.