The night before a game is different for every club cricketer. But there are a few broad categories to choose from…
“Pub tonight?” the text message reads. “Got cricket tomorrow, would have to be a quiet one,” you reply. It’s that same old predicament: Friday night is the toughest time of the week for the club cricketer – do you hit the town or hit the hay?
You try to convince yourself that you’re happy with ordering a Chinese and watching Graham Norton, but then the FOMO strikes and you find yourself in Wetherspoons already on your second bottle of Hooch. Before you know it, it’s 1am and you’re in a taxi to town telling the driver about that hook shot you hit last week off the opposition’s quick who’d played county twos. Good luck replicating that in the morning…
A human bottle of Febreze; you’ve never seen someone so fresh when they rock up at the club ahead of the game. They’ve been on a juice cleanse for so long there’s more vitamin C in their urine than in a bottle of Robinsons squash, and they went to bed so early last night they have no idea who hosted Have I Got News For You. While you’re still festering under your duvet, they’re up early for a run and a light gym session, followed by a healthy breakfast involving an unnecessary amount of avocado. You’d make fun of their approach if they weren’t currently topping the league batting averages.
He hasn’t been to bed yet and is stood at the top of his bowling mark completely wired. His Friday nights sound like the plot of The Hangover (“Not at the table, Carlos”) and your skipper often has to make him shower before the match to wash away the smell of booze, as well as to clean off the UV paint, nightclub stamps, vomit, confetti, blood, motor oil (don’t ask) and other miscellaneous substances he regularly turns up covered in. One week he got dropped off in an ice cream van, another saw the entire staff of a kebab shop turn up to watch him bat, while last week he had to hide in the changing rooms after an angry drag queen showed up demanding money. The less you know the better…
Another sleepless night for the worrier. They’ve spent all week thinking about the game, over-analysing every potential scenario in their head. Your opponents this Saturday have a bit of a nasty fasty and the worrier’s bought an arm-guard especially for the occasion, plus you swear you just heard them on the phone taking out some kind of insurance policy.
They come out for the warm-up looking like they’ve pulled an all-nighter in the uni library ahead of an essay deadline, and were so nervous before their innings that you had to tie them to a bench to stop them pacing around the changing rooms. Pull yourself together!
THE RAIN CARD
“80 per cent chance of showers for Saturday,” appears in the group chat and everyone goes wild. “Rain card?” “Rain card, lads?” “Serious rain card potential!” Ah yes, the rain card, the club cricketer’s friend and foe in equal measure – play it at your peril.
There are few worse feelings in cricket than opening the curtains after a heavy night, expecting to see a deluge outside, only to be blinded by bright sunlight. You get to the ground and everyone is struggling, it’s sunglasses and Lucozades all round. You also feel for the opposition, who appear 20 minutes before the start looking like they’ve just got off the plane from a stag do in Krakow. You win the toss and you’re batting. The relief is incredible, it’s a cathartic moment for all involved. Except for your openers, one of whom almost pukes on his way out to the middle. It’s going to be a long day.