At the conclusion of the 2018 season, our club skipper is pondering the future.
So that’s that. Season over, a league title secured, skipper’s duties complete. It’s been fun, memorable, rewarding – and a total pain in the arse.
With the kitbag now condemned to the shed for another winter (bat and other precious perishables removed, naturally) I’m left to wonder: shall I carry on next year? Has it been worth it?
In truth, having taken on the job with a bit of trepidation, I couldn’t have asked for much better. They’re a nice bunch, good players and, by the standards of recreational cricket across the board, not a complete nightmare to captain. We’ve won most of the time, which, however much you tell yourself you play the game for its own sake, seriously helps on the enjoyment front – and also serves to quiet any simmering discontent from the ranks.
A few close matches have even brought the opportunity to tangibly affect the outcome of the game tactically – a rare and rewarding treat, even if that tactic was ultimately negative. It was stimulating in a way that making a disappointing 14 off 40 balls can’t ever be.
But it’s the constant presence of the team, or some related task, in your mind throughout the week that registers most strongly in the ‘cons’ column. Team selection, match admin, committee meetings, player registrations… there’s always something. It’s hard to live a Zen life when you’re captain of a club cricket team.
Holidaying in the autumn is essential for any serious club tragic, of course, but it had never occurred to me until now that it’s actually a necessary escape and recovery from the game itself. Matches done, nothing left to sort, phone off. Bliss.
So, all that said, maybe it’s someone else’s turn to pick the team, arrange the teas, collect the scorer and set up the ground. Perhaps someone else can choose the batting order and disappoint a few people before demanding their subs. To fill in the results sheet and send it off to the league while the others are enjoying their first pint in the bar.
They’d be responsible for welcoming new players into the team and creating a nice atmosphere that’s fun but also tries to win. They’d watch developing youngsters become fully fledged match-winners. Maybe they could set the field, work out a batsman’s technique and put a man just there to cut off his bread-and-butter shot and then one there to take the catching chance. They could shuffle the bowlers around to make best use of them at the right times in a tight run chase. They’d feel the white-hot joy of winning those moments having invested so much time and energy into the whole damn thing.
Maybe. But then, well… I suppose one more season couldn’t hurt.