[first published back in May]
There’s a certain type of cricketer, just as there’s a certain type of guitar player, whose financial acumen far outstrips their technical ability. Their story is very often a simple case of played when young, stopped due to kids/work, hit 40. At this age, a man (or woman, naturally, though there’s a less clear trajectory in their case, I find) tends to stop and take stock of his life.
Naturally, when I say take stock, I mean freak out, go, ‘what the fuck? Forty? How did that happen?’ and fall, sobbing onto their chinese slate kitchen floor. Some men have a midlife crisis and buy themselves a sports car, or maybe a sporty young filly – some buy a breadmaker (really, guys, what’s that all about?), while others take a more relaxed view of things, and think about what their sudden income hike, their relatively stable career and the fact that the kids are demanding less attention than money, and conclude it’s time to get back on it.
Many pick up the guitar once more, having been a bit of a player in their youth. They may decide to have lessons from some young hotshot. When I was 21, I taught any number of guys of a certain age who had started again. Policemen, barristers, bankers, mechanics. I was an up-and-coming pro and had one guitar (my squier strat, which I still own, even if it is a bit on the dusty side), whereas they would often bring guitars worth two or three thousand pounds to their lessons. One guy turned up to every class of a ten-week course with a different axe (and drove there in his Aston Martin). They have the best gear, the newest toys. And yet they know that really it’s all about the fingers. We pros used to mock them openly, but behind closed doors we’d simply be jealous.
In cricket, much the same. The mid-lifer picks up a bat after years, and unfit and well out of practise, starts again. This is great. And yet they have the cash to buy serious kit. The 10-grain bat, the nicest pads… and it’s all brand new.
All the gear; no idea. That’s how they’re greeted as they trudge out to bat all shiny and sparkly, with rather dodgy technique. But, dammit, they love it, so why not? They have to buy stuff, and they’ve got the cash, so why not?
Last night, I trotted along to nets in the village I’m currently hunkered down in for a swish. Nets for me are hit and miss: mostly miss. It was dismal and dank. I padded up. All new gear. Why? Because as a newly-converted lefty I need new gear. I have a bat sent to me by Adidas, which is like a gremlin – it doesn’t like water – and so took two bats. I can see the looks on the faces as my shuffling gait and inability to use my bottom hand mean I’m simply awful. Bowled seven or eight times. I know what they’re thinking, but equally, I know that I can keep Tim Swanepoel out usually, who’s a good few yards quicker than any of them, I scored forty a few weeks ago, at the end of my innings scoring from pace rather than sit-up-and-beg spin, and … really, I’m not as bad as I looked.
All the gear: no idea? Not this man. Too much of a fucking idea.
When it came to hitting forty and having a midlife crisis, well … I just got PD. That was enough for me.