Setting off in the right direction

Moments of comedy and renewed confidence as a new season starts

A beautiful setting for cricket — Colehshill Cricket Club near Birmingham

In Aussie Rules Football, you alternate the ends to which you kick at each quarter break like many team sports. In the heat of battle, it can be easy to momentarily forget which way your team is going and inadvertently kick the ball the wrong way. When playing for my school in my teenage years, this was not uncommon, especially for my team. We struggled to compete every week, and sometimes getting possession of the ball was a significant achievement.

Cricket shouldn’t have these problems. Yes, we change ends every six balls, but the moment of change is sedate, slow even, and if you forget where you are meant to stand or which end you are bowling at next, there is time to reorientate yourself and take your position. Genuine moments of confusion and comedy arise when the ball is hit, and the fielder has no idea where the ball has gone! This happened on Sunday while our opposition was in full swing chasing our semi-competitive total of 187. Our youngest team member set off like a hare in the opposite direction to where the ball was hit, blaming the sun, saying it was in his eyes. It was hilarious to watch from the middle of the ground! The moment of confusion brought laughter and relief to the team as we battled against the odds to get back into the game.

New boots and new Rainbow Laces for 2021

We batted first, and the glue that held us together was an outstanding Bannerman like innings by our opening bat, Ross, who contributed an unbeaten 125. My opportunity to bat came halfway through the innings, and it was obvious we needed to push on to make a competitive total. I did my best to be positive, scoring two through mid-wicket to get off the mark, followed fairly quickly by a boundary. A mistimed drive had me caught at mid-off for seven.

In the past, the start of a new season would fill me with self-doubt and nerves, but this year feels different. I feel more confident in my ability. I have changed my batting stance over the winter to generate more power and give myself more time to play shots. Despite not being able to practice it properly, it felt good during the match. I will persist with it as it feels right.

Despite a promising start with two quick wickets being taken, we quickly fell behind as the runs flowed from the Coleshill bats. I came on to bowl and dismissed both established batters in my first over, one bowled and the other caught. Despite a few too many wides, I was pleased with the way I bowled. I discovered I can still swing the ball, even if I am never sure how I am doing it!

We lost by three wickets with plenty of overs left. We were competitive, but we were always chasing the game. Despite this, I felt positive about my performance; it felt like it provided me with a base to build on this season.

It was great to be playing cricket again, even if the result mirrored many of our Sunday matches last season. My optimism for the season is boosted by the continuing growth and interest in the Birmingham Unicorns. There are so many opportunities opening up through the Unicorns for the LGBTQ+ community this season. Changing cricket, making it a more inclusive sport and being part of a broader movement has given me a purpose and focus that I have missed over the last couple of years. This year is a year of transition for me as the Unicorns grow and establish as a club. Either way, it is a year of opportunity, and I’m determined that it will be a positive one for me, cricket, Weoley Hill CC, the Unicorns and the LGBTQ+ community.

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