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HOW TO LOOK THE PART IN VILLAGE CRICKET

Written by Blake Jones

With a bit of luck, we will get a full season in this year after a truncated 2020 and if you need to get new kit ahead of your first game in the next month or so, I plead that you look at this and learn from the horrors I’ve seen.

A classic village cricket setting

So, first things first. If you are a bowler, specialist batsman or that guy that goes in at 8 and doesn’t bowl but has insane chat from deep point, your time will come.

However, this is for the wicketkeepers young and old across the land, and this is of critical importance.

PLEASE buy a long-sleeved shirt in your club colours, to save your elbows and your dignity.

If I belonged to the Fiat 500 Twitter subculture, I’d say that wickies with short sleeves give me the “ick”.

I think it is because our gifted, and atypically youthful keeper Craig has at least one injury-related stoppage a game after taking a dying ball from one of our bowlers. His history of thumb dislocation has nothing to do with it, and nor does his Ed Sheeran hundred (which is covered under “fines” another time), these injuries are solely because he has kept in short sleeves since we were playing under-11s.

What are the benefits of keeping in short sleeves, I hear you ask? Grazed elbows, weird tan lines, and abuse from your own team are the main ones. And no, Under Armour underneath or compression sleeves over the elbows do not count; they are for your quickest bowlers only and they are to assert dominance over the opposition’s batsmen.

Now, I don’t know how many guys at our level actually bowl with genuine pace, but the next tip is for all the nasty fasties, who make the ball bounce above the knee on the puddings we play on.

NEVER wear sunglasses or a sweater, sleeveless or not while bowling.

Being a leg-spinner myself, the twirlers should actively pursue luminous green sunglasses with mirror lenses, and sleeveless sweaters are perfectly acceptable.

However, if you’re the big fella charging in at the other end, just leave it all on the boundary and save yourself the embarrassment.

I don’t even have to say how disgraceful a guy bowling in a cap is, but the sweaters really bug me. The removal of layers slow down an already sluggish over rate if you’re running in from the boundary for over upon over, and for me I don’t think you’re working hard enough if you aren’t warm enough from your last one.

I would also say to fast bowlers that bowling in long sleeves is a no-no. Did you know that the fabric moving over your bowling wrist at delivery reduces your average speed by 40mph over a spell?

Henry, a teammate of mine halted a game with this issue once, but he wanted to keep his speeds up so this was perfectly acceptable in my eyes.

I told him to warm up with less than an over’s notice (it’s a fineable offence, I agree), so he removed his long-sleeve shirt and sourced a short-sleeve version to swing his arms in before he came into the attack.

The fine duly handed out for bringing a second shirt to a Sunday game (last year as well, imagine bringing two shirts to a friendly!) was not accepted in kind.

Batsmen have their role to play too. The Kohlis and Roots of the world may be the Sultans of the stadiums they walk on with bat in hand, but when you’re in the field every batsman has a responsibility to their team and their bowlers.

Specifically, when fielding wear long-sleeved shirts and club caps at all times.

It doesn’t really get hot in this country. We get a few days at 28/29ºC in June but unless you’re a quick bowler there is no need to wear short sleeves in the field.

Long sleeves look smart, they can be used to shine the ball and if your elbows are covered on abrasive outfields there is no excuse to not put a dive in and help your bowlers out.

I introduced Travis, a friend of mine to cricket last year and he embraced this approach wholeheartedly. We must have played our first game of the season on one of those rare days in the high 20s, and he stuck with the long sleeves and sleeveless sweater throughout their innings.

Like many things in society, the best thing we can do is educate the youth, so they grow up with morality and an idea of right and wrong, and I felt like I contributed that afternoon.

 

To summarise, you can learn below what is on your shopping list ahead of this season. Just read under your usual position in the batting order!

  1. Opening batsman. Short sleeves while batting and fielding, I reckon. Exception to the rule. Tough cookie. Probably the captain too so he’s going to be at slip all day, let’s be honest.
  2. Opening batsman. Long sleeves while batting and fielding. Ideally left-handed and flamboyant to contrast with the skipper’s dour, gritty method.
  3. Batsman. Gun. Perhaps ¾ length sleeves in the field (can you still get those?) but as long as he’s 60 not out or so at drinks he can wear whatever he likes while he’s batting.
  4. Batsman. Definitely an ex-captain who lost a committee vote. He’s lucky to still be in the team so do as the skipper says.
  5. Batsman who bowls. The number 10 isn’t much cop so you’d better have both shirts in case you’re needed. He definitely sets the tone in the field with his chirp so bright sunnies and zinc cream are what you need to get Prime delivery on here.
  6. All-rounder. Short sleeves all round. Probably at second slip but on at first change so perhaps some Ben Stokes elbow sleeves, not to mention tattoos when the parlours reopen.
  7. Keeper. Long sleeves and cap. Can’t possibly stress that enough. And a good helmet for standing up to the spinner and “medium-pacers”, whatever that means in our game.
  8. Spinner. Armguard whilst batting, and inners to protect the spinning finger. Seeing a spinner whirl away in long sleeves and sunglasses (even glasses, a la Jack Leach) is simply mesmerising.
  9. Fast bowler. Probably bowls the first over. Short sleeves, wristband, maybe a compression sleeve on the right arm if you are quick enough. Shiver me timbers!
  10. Fast bowler. Only kidding, you’re filling in. Find whatever is in the dressing room and throw yourself around in the field to get a proper game next week.
  11. Fast bowler. If he took 25 wickets in 2020 but only scored 19 runs all season then he should get blindfolds for his teammates and stride out to bat, saving everyone the pain.

I can’t wait for the 2021 season to start, and I hope that when it starts the idyllic watercolour paintings of the English village green will never depict a wicketkeeper in short sleeves again.