I'm stiff today. From cricket. Now most of you probably think that cricket is a soft sport played by old blokes with bellies, and with all the standing around in the field or sitting down waiting to bat, requires negligible physical activity. You're wrong. At least, my body says you are wrong, because it aches.
On Friday I played the annual early season fixture for the Wine Trade XI against the Gents of Essex at Coggeshall. It's a game I've been involved with for a few years now, and the trip up to Coggeshall has become a mini-tradition. The routine is that invariably we field first, get hit around a bit, and then have a nice long lunch (the match fee is two bottles of decent wine). Afterwards, we get hit around a bit more, and then they declare, leaving us about three hours (with tea, this works out at about 50 overs) to try to overhaul their total. We never do, but some years we survive for the draw. The standard of cricket is pretty good, especially considering that at age 38, I'm one of the youngest players in our side. I bowled two spells, totalling seven overs, and almost got three wickets (my figures 7-0-42-0). My second spell, after a pint of cold lager and three modest glasses of a spicy, fruity southern Italian red, was much the better.
Of course, it's not the game itself that matters as much as the process of actually hanging out with a nice bunch of guys, outdoors, on a pleasant early summer's day, and generally distancing onself from the clutter of modern living for several hours. I wish I could do it more often. Pictured are both teams plus umpires and scorer. I'm far left.