Snapshots of brilliance
Spring. It’s gloriously sunny, the grass is being cut and the county cricket season starts today. It makes my fingers twitch. It’s a strange game cricket. Individual moments stay with you for a long time – forever in some cases. Alex Massie has a perfect example of this today:
I can recall with complete clarity a front-foot cut I played for Glenalmond Colts against Loretto Colts more, Christ, than 20 years ago; the pitch wasn't a pudding and the ball wasn't really short and it wasn't really wide but for some reason - glorious, inexplicable and unforgettable - I strode and stood tall and leathered it off the middle, cutting it past a bewildered point who had no idea that this was coming. Nor did the bowler and I can still picture the look of affronted resentment plastered across his face. For a blissful, obviously fleeting, moment I was able to fancy myself a left-handed Viv Richards and say that, regardless of age or experience, no batsman in the world could have dealt more effectively with that delivery.
I have a couple of freeze-frame moments like this too – moments when, just for a second, I stood with the best. My favourite dates back to when I was playing cricket in Zambia, a mere seven years ago (sob…). Playing cricket in the dry season gives you a pitch that turns practically square. I was bowling to a very useful left-hander, who was progressing serenely through the 60s to what looked like being a pretty straightforward hundred. I bowled him three balls with a real rip on them, pitching middle and off and turning sharply past the stumps. The first two he played and missed at, the third he left. The next ball was an arm ball on off stump. He left it, playing for turn, and it bowled him. I felt like the world’s best bowler. Briefly.