Dexter to sinister, part 3

So. The countdown begins. I’d be lying if I were to suggest that I am not filled with trepidation at the prospect of holes being drilled into my flesh and long alien-type tubes within tubes inserted, inquisition style. The various ripped and tortured bits of ragged tissue that comprise my left shoulder joint will be cajoled, weedled and simply forced to knit with one another. I’ll be beslung for quite some time … my arm released into the wild sometime in the middle of January, to be gently nursed back to full operational fitness. Finally I will be able to reach to my left to pick up a cup of tea without wincing. To lift my arm above my head … it will be splendid. Eventually.

I write this in the newly cleaned and organised dining room, currently serving me well as an office. The house in which I will be stuck for the next week at least is slowly becoming a home. Even Ginger, the recalcitrant mog himself, is starting to treat it like one. It’s starting to make sense. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to prepare it for a less-than-sinister future, though with regards the tools of my trade, letters stuck on pieces of plastic tip-tapped by my little fingers, well … I mostly type one-handed anyway, my left hand merely providing the odd index finger to the equation.

This morning I woke secure in the knowledge that, sometime on thursday, I would walk groggily into a car, be driven bumpily and painfully down the A23, and I’ll be strapped into my bed … hang on, that’s wrong … I’ll be gently wedged in so that I don’t lie down on my newly chopped rotator, the ginge will be locked out of my room, and I shall sleep the sleep of a man expecting trouble. Naturally, the best laid plans of the marvellous mechanical mouse party rarely run smooth. They moved it to Sunday.

It will be for the best.

In the meantime, several quests remain to be fulfilled; several dragons slain. Left-handed. If you recall, I’d had a couple of nets, completed a couple of supported practice sessions, and generally not got on too badly. I was feeling increasingly comfortable with my new style, though most everyone was amazed I could do it, and confident that I’d pull it off next season. Then reality bit. Perhaps because I was’t concentrating, or I wasn’t with it, or perhaps I was having a bad PD day. Whatever it was, I sucked. I felt awful, had no poise or balance, no foot movement, bat wafting airily (thou sadly not Goweresquely) and flinging across the line, a gate the size of the gates of Hercules between bat and pad …

Reader, I videoed it. At least I can watch it over and over again. Relive every painful, flat-footed swipe, every stiff swivel pull, every ‘defensive’ prod … ah, what days I shall have. Seriously, however, it says an awful lot to me. Apart from ‘you have no natural gift for this game’, it reminds me how important it is to concentrated on every aspect of your game. When I was a guitar player, I used to spend hours fine-tuning my picking technique, getting it ‘just so’. I was one of the fastest, cleanest players you could have found back in 90s England. And it was hard, hard work. Hours of graft. This is what I now need to do … while I’m slung. Get my technique absolutely perfect. The stance, the step and swing, the shot, the follow-through … each is currently flawed.

My stance is ok, but my eyes are not level enough, my bat is away from my body, and my legs aren’t flexed enough.

I barely have a step most of the time, and when I do, there’s no backswing. Which means I jab at the ball rather than swing through it … and I have no follow-through.

Apart from all these wee issues, I’m perfect! The fact that, in nets at least, I’m middling most balls and putting away a fair few makes me wonder what might happen if I practiced really hard, and intelligently … I think I might score a few runs. My plan, therefore, is to work on my top hand for the next six weeks. Then the sling’ll come off, and I can introduce the left hand to the party. The first net will be very tellling.

Already, my head’s in next year’s play.

Dexter to sinister, part 2

Today I attended a ‘live’ net session, that is, one with three bowlers bowling rather than one machine repeating. This, I reckon, is a greater test of my newly sinister stance than the indoor school’s bowling machine, as the margin of error increases by, well, 500-1000% in terms of line, and a greater amount in terms of length. It also adds great variation in pace, flight, spin, swing and action – it’s a right pain in the arse moving the machine from over to round the wicket, a tactic many right-arm bowlers use against lefties.

Bowling right arm over to a sinister beast pushes the ball across the body of the batsman. LBW is very hard to get, and the wider delivery is at greater risk of a slashing drive. Yes, nicking off to slip is more likely, but that is generally the result of greed rather than need. Right arm round jambs the ball into the batsman’s body, making it harder to open the shoulders to any shot. Yes, tickles off the thigh pad are more common, but a shorter ball is more likely to catch the gloves and bounce up off the arm, shoulder or lid. As ever, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other.

I batted twice. The first session was a mixed bag, and I was cleaned up by Jim the leg spinner a couple of times, playing round the ball. I did play some nice drives, however.

Two weeks ago I could barely play the pull shot, my most productive shot when right-handed. Now it’s vicious, as I not only seem to be able to time the shot better, but the strength of my right arm really unleashes. Because bowlers tend to have trouble adjusting their line, the ball on leg or wider is more common. Meat and drink.

It wasn’t merely spin today, as Tim, leading wicket taker in the division for a second year, was also netting. He’s quite nippy, and good fun to bat against. He struggled with his line a little in the first session, allowing me to work on the cut shot. Again, the strength of my top hand really came into play here. Very satisfying.

It was, as usual, my straight play which let me down. I still seem to be whipping across the line. Too much bottom hand – ironic considering why I’m switching …

It was the second session which changed everything. If you ignore the two beauts which Tim bowled when he got his line spot on, and the fine delivery from Jim which went past my outside edge and cut back to take out my leg stump, then it was a different story. I even drove quite fluently … in relative terms!

But the real eye-opener for me was the state of my bat at the end of the session. The marks on the blade are predominantly in the chunky middle. One defensive prod (a shot I rarely played right-handed) fairly pinged off the middle. So I’m seeing the ball quite well, it seems. I’ll work out why they’re mostly on the inside half of the middle soon enough.

But it’s progressing well. I still look clumsy sometimes, but the drives are coming on, and the cut and pull are almost weapons. But when one of our most talented batsman says he’s not only amazed how quickly I’ve adapted, but couldn’t do it himself, and one bowler quips that maybe I was left-handed all along, I have right to feel pleased.

Furthermore, it doesn’t kill my back now, and it’s feeling more and more comfortable. There is hope, I feel.

Unfortunately, only one more net before the operation. Then, well … not really looking forward to that, not one little bit.

From Dexter to Sinister

It was rather a shock when I saw the look in my consultant’s eyes. The fact was that he really seemed to be looking forward to getting me on the slab. He insisted on explaining how it used to be done in quite graphic detail, only to assure me that keyhole surgery was far, far better. Still, a type 6 slap lesion, encompassing 360° of my left shoulder, sounds quite bad. And so it is. Hence his unalloyed joy – it’s an opportunity for him to show just how good he is. This pleaseth me as it means he’ll do exactly that. In a youth, this would lead to fear, as they’d overplay their hand, but I suspect this will not be the case in this instance. I’m confident a great job will be done.

Such an injury (sustained in a ju-jitsu training session where instinct took over from training) takes a lot of recovery time. Four to six weeks with my left arm in a sling. Ouch. Life is going to be rather hard. Then three months of rehab before I can do any real training. Ouch once more. That means I’ll be trying to regain the strength on my left arm as the season starts. Ah. That’ll be awkward.

But lo! A solution presents itself.

For the past two years I have been suffering with a lack of control of my bat because the top hand, the left hand when batting right-handed, controls the bat. The PD means that the grip in my left hand is gradually but markedly weakening. I lose control of the bat.

Well, fuck it, say I, I’ll bat left-handed. I’ll change my entire batting style. This, I immediately perceive, will have three benefits:

  1. My top hand will be my right hand, a hand holding onto the manly grip needed to use my monstrous beast (of a bat)
  2. It’ll really piss the bowlers off.
  3. I will be able to learn from scratch – proper technique from the get-go.
  4. Finally, number four is simple – I’ll have an awesome switch-hit.

This is the difference:

It’s bloody hard. This will detail my trials and tribulations.

Vive la difference?

I was pootling around in a bookshop this afternoon, while my prescription was turned from being two boxes of pills into … two boxes of pills with stickers on … and heard a young girl ask her father what ambidextrous means.

Quick as a flash, he answered neatly and calmly, saying something like ‘Being neither right nor left-handed, but being equally skilled with both hands’. Good job, I thought, but then thought some more.

It doesn’t mean quite what he said, but contains an odd bias.

Ambi means something like ‘on both sides’ while dextrous means ‘like the right hand’, seeing as dexter is the right hand (sinister being the left).

Ambidextrous therefore, if one translates it literally, means ‘on both sides like the right hand’, or, more simply and poetically, ‘having two right hands’.

It is therefore the antithesis of being a bad dancer.

Now, I found it interesting that a word which relates to the equality of two parties can only express it in terms of the party considered superior.

Or, in the words of Rex Harrisson, ‘why can’t a woman, be more like a man?’

This either indicates an intrinsic dualism in language, a dualism which supports if not impels discriminatory behaviour, or suggests that equality is neither desirable or, in fact, possible.

Vive la différence?