A cloud of guilt encroaches upon the introduction to today’s light-hearted tale. To think of my parents’ selfless grafting throughout their working lives, to think of the hardships they went through in order to give us the best possible start in life, the precious pennies my Dad wasted, yes wasted on tennis coaching, badminton lessons, hockey sticks, even a basketball lesson once, blinded by his hope that my sister and I would one day evolve into sporting champs.
That we had no hope of doing so was apparent to most (including ourselves) but my Dad ploughed on. Not all children are capable of all things but try telling that to a proud parent, whose judgement is shrouded in bias and heartfelt belief in their omnipotent babies.
Still, my Dad is an intelligent and deeply perceptive man and I suppose it wasn’t a ludicrous assumption in his mind that we would one day feel at ease in at least one sport, particularly when we were cut from the same cloth as he and his brother – university champions and trophy holders in badminton and tennis respectively. I may have spent my lifetime blaming my short stature for my lack of sporting abilities but shorter individuals have gone on to acquire greater accolades.
I paid homage to my high school music teachers recently here but I struggle to even recall the names of their PE colleagues, perhaps a reflection of my dis-engagement with games lessons.
It was a trend, however, that would extrapolate beyond the borders of physical sporting competences, merging seamlessly into sport-watching territories. I haven’t the foggiest how rugby works, or how anyone can keep a straight face when watching a scrum/huddle and my father stopped inviting me to the cricket after the time I asked him where the wicket was, whilst we were seated at The Oval, one of the most eminent cricketing grounds in London.
Fortunately, my unanticipated interest in tennis and football have spared me from complete disowned status by the men in my life. (For a glimpse of me in my football element, check out my night at the Maracana football stadium in Rio.)
Never would I have imagined, therefore, that 2017 would be the year I would play cricket with a former England international player.
Allow me to rewind.