It is one of those delicious ironies that the very things that demand most patience are the very same things that we want, or even need, right this second, dammit give it to me now. Now, I say!
Today, for example, I re-organised and cleaned my cricket kit. Naturally, there’s no prospect of a game anytime soon, even though nets will begin soon-ish … but it seemed like the time to prepare. Part of this urge came, no doubt, from a combination of the facts that The Country House Cricketer is rapidly approaching completion in its draft stage and yesterday I paid a visit to a good friend of mine, Marcus Charman of Affinity Cricket. Going over last year’s games while contemplating the forthcoming season makes one itch to play once more. And thereby hangs a tale.
We’ve talked before about the need for me to wield a lighter bat – left-hand grip issues and the difficulty I have in making that first movement, overcoming that inertia both scream ‘get a lighter bat!’ – and he’s come up with a rather left-field solution.
The problem, of course, is making a bat that balances well, flows freely in the shot, and still has a decent enough mass of willow in the middle to make the ball do its thing. It’s all about weight distribution. His solution? Harrow, dear boy. Well, it makes sense, actually, not least as I don’t quite make it to 5 ft 9 (almost, but not quite). Harrowing the bat makes it a little shorter and a tiny bit narrower than, actually, two of my other bats. Turns out my GT335 is slightly narrow at 4 1/8 rather than 4 1/4 a ‘full-size’ bat widths out at. Roughly speaking, on a 2lb 5 bat that’s just under one oz that can find its way from the edge into the middle, and the reduced length adds another 1/2 oz. Already the bat’s effective mass is pushing 2lb 7oz, so with judicious sculpting, we’re looking at the same heft as my Warsop or even my Impreza, but considerably easier to handle.
Oh, and does it ever look fantastic!
Now. Onto patience. I have to knock this beast in and then some. That means four hours of hitting it with a ball before I can even consider hitting a ball or two with it. No matter how much I want to. And then, and only then, will I know whether the principle works in practice.
Patience and cricket go together.
I’m slowly losing my ability to play it effectively. Last season the march of youth continued, and my role was increasingly that of counsel, co-ordinator and conspirator rather than conquistador-in-chief (not that I was ever thus, but the principle holds, right?). I dropped down the order and only managed to find some form in the back end of the season as I shed my helmet and balanced myself out somewhat.
Parkinson’s means I so, so often have to be patient and learn afresh how to approach everyday tasks. I increasingly ask for my shopping to be packed for me so I don’t try the patience of others. This year I’ll need increasing amounts of patience, if I am to find my game. Having a bat I can’t use until it’s fully knocked in will help me learn that lesson fully.
Either that or I’ll lose it completely.