Starting again after a long gap from the game is a bit like moving to a new town, or a new job , or maybe doing a post-graduate course at a new college. The temptation to re-invent yourself becomes almost a duty.
First time around I was one of nature's openers. Always was,from about 11 onwards until I stopped. Painfully slow and inhibited. Good at chiselling out dogged 35 not outs to win low scoring games on park green tops but spending almost every other week it seemed at times getting out early when we batted first and having my day ruined by 2.15. It was the seasons I spent more time umpiring than batting that were the worst. The lot of the club opener, get out early and spend about 30 overs umpiring before you go out and field.
This time around I was going to reinvent myself as a middle order dasher. The game had moved on and so, mentally, had I. No more over- anxious inhibition and fear. It was going to be the carefree cameo that only someone who never thought they'd ever play again and so every innings is a bonus could produce. With my new giant edged modern bat and uncluttered mind I'd play all the shots people used, patronisingly, to tell me I always had ( this immediately after getting out for another 90 minute 12) . And coming in at 4 or 5 I'd get to face the rubbish too. Apologies to the openers for being so trite,but for the benefit of everyone else, it is an article of faith for opening batsmen that their runs are worth at least triple as they have to face the best bowlers whereas middle order boys just get to feast on the pies.
The first few weeks back I batted at 4 or 5. Came in around middle of the innings, usually after a long stand for the wicket before , which didn't both me as much as I thought it would. Didn't blaze it around but made a run of 20 odds ( double figures has always been my target) and played a few nice drives , which latter was almost un-heard of in my first "career".
As time went on though I found myself being pushed up to 3 , where I spent the second half of the season. Actually got some proper runs there as it turned out, including (since you ask) a couple of unbeaten seventy odds , but that won't last. What will however was the return of the olds ways. The liberated - from-my-past middle order swan had turned into back and across, hang on the back foot and run it behind square all day nudger that I desperately longed to escape being again. Even the old 1980s Gooch backlift that my dad used to hate had crept back in. The worst thing was it produced runs- but that was small consolation for realising that all that time sat in Starbucks watching Damien Martyn and Mark Waugh videos on you tube to develop their styles by osmosis was wasted. *
So I am getting a bit too nervous than park cricket really merits, using a light weight bat with no edges, living on the back foot, opening the face obsessively and missing out on the leg side entirely except for the 1 in 10 I actually do connect with when I glance. Worst of all, almost half my dismissals last summer were run out. That's actually quite low by the standards of some of my summers. There's no way of escaping your past.
* I know that watching Damien Martyn or Mark Waugh videos on you tube is never a waste of time . And apologise for suggesting otherwise, even in a different context.