I have played cricket for as long as I can remember. In my very early childhood days it was in the garden with my father and siblings. The worn patches on an otherwise perfect lawn bore witness to these early matches. I seem to recall my younger brother and I starting to badger our father around the middle of February - the poor grass never recovered. In those early days we watched my father play in the Essex League and I first experienced the camaraderie that comes with cricket. We learnt to watch and enjoy the game and how to behave. Walking behind the bowlers arm was a terrible crime as was running onto the pitch for whatever reason.  Such crimes probably resulted in our dear mother taking us home. We learnt quickly!

I played my first adult game in 1973 and this year it is 20 years since I first cycled to Madeley on a cold Sunday in May. I cycled home, slightly worse for wear, and had my first encounter with the wall! The rest, as they say, is history.

But every April I still get that sense of anticipation of the upcoming summer. Last year I was unable to play a single match in what was a very sad year for me and everyone associated with our wonderful club. I have mentioned poetry in earlier blogs.To me cricket is poetry and some of our country's greatest writers have penned beautiful poems about the subject. Edmund Blunden, war hero, war poet, scholar and academic wrote about the timelessness of cricket.  "The game which made me write at all, is not terminated at the boundary, but is reflected beyond, is echoed and varied out there among the gardens and the barns, the dells and the thickets, and belongs to some wider field." 

In his book Cricket Country he describes a scene I can certainly relate to - "A thunderstorm is stooping over the old cricket ground in my memory. It is not a date that I can identify, and I do not know who the awaited opponents of our team are - an Estate, a Brewery, the Constabulary, some sort of Rovers, more likely just another village side. It is the forenoon, and that inky cloud is working round the hill, as black almost as the spinney of firs on the boundary, imported trees which I always suspect of being aloof in their hearts from the scene and its animations. I feel oily splashing drops and doubt if we shall have the promised encounter in the afternoon. The summer seems to have fallen into low spirits, and there is nobody about except the rooks and pigeons - we have heard all they have to say - and a crying woodpecker down under the oak at the river. The storm drifts, the cloud-edges are effaced; but the rain patters steadily on the metal roof of the mowing shed, the gutters gurgle, all the trees are grey with the shower. Past the far side of the field, a figure with a sack for hood drives his cycle apace, never turning his eyes this way for a moment; and no one from the vicarage steps out to see if there is any prospect of play.
Yet the hours pass, and after all the rain had wearied, and stopped. The smoky-looking day may remain thus, neither better nor worse, and the turf is good. A bicycle is being pushed through the meadow gate by a cricketer in flannels under his mackintosh, and one by one they all assemble. An unlocking of padlocks and shifting of benches in the pavilion, a thump of bats and stumps being hauled out of the dark corners. The creases are marked, and the offer of a bowling screen rejected..."

So this April is no different. I am looking forward to the season. Whether it is, umpiring, watching, hearing reports of matches and hopefully playing some games. We have a great summer ahead. For starters England host the World Cup and it is an Ashes Summer - wow! And for our Club; the revamped Shropshire League is now stronger than it has been for many years, we are proud to host the junior slam, we have some great plans progressing for a festival at the end of August, we host a Ladies festival in July and we are re-launching junior teams at Under 10 and 11. Here's to every success and enjoyment 
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