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The Writers' Block #24 - Theme: First

It all started with a fuzzy phone conversation that, in typical fashion, ended up with me saying Yes when I clearly should have said No.

In the sports shop, I was trying to pay for the kit, when the young woman, with her pink highlights and tight-fitting football top, smirked and said, with a twinkle in her eye, ‘Cricket, eh?’

I nodded.

‘You already got a box?’

I tried to keep a passive expression, but my mind raced. ‘Box? … Box ... Box!’

She kept eye contact until I cracked. ‘Yes. I’ll need a box.’

‘Small, medium or large?’ As speedy as a cobra, she injected her venomous question into my brain.

With confidence seeping away, my head turned to mush. ‘They’re meant to be snug, I believe, so, erm, small?’ My voice had inexplicably risen to a pitch audible only to mice, not men.

When the big day arrived, I was taken aback by the brilliant sunshine glorifying the luscious green grass. Birds sang, people smiled, all was good with the world. After being told I was in at number 7, I padded up in the changing room. Finding a discreet corner I put on my box, only then discovering that Small meant small, as in child-kind-of-small. There was much fumbling and cursing over the next few minutes.

Viewing the game, it didn’t seem that bad. Just like when I’d watched it on tv.

When the sixth wicket fell, I stood. Gladitorially, I puffed out my chest, hopped over a kitbag and minced my way to the crease, the only short pause being the dash back for my bat. My gait got me a few questioning eyebrows from the fielders, but soon enough, I had arrived. I copied what the others did. Found leg wicket with assistance from the umpire, made a mark, looked at the smirking fielders and settled in.

All went silent. The old slow-motion effect consumed me. It was just me against a cork ball. I heard every footstep thudding as the bowler approached, his blond hair wafting. Everything was calm, focussed, easy. He bowled and the ball was in the wicket keeper's hands. I hadn’t even moved. So much for slow-motion.

In the distance, I heard someone clap and shout ‘Well left.’

Second ball. In he came, like a charging rhino, killer eyes on me. I watched the bounce and thought ‘This is a boundary!’ My bat slashed the air, missing the ball completely, my face flushed with embarrassment. A schoolboy error. Still, I’ve faced two balls and I’m still here.

Thinking that I had better regain some dignity, I decided, no matter what, to play safe. As the next ball came in, it felt right. I watch the flight, the bounce, the rise. I leant forwards and placed the bat down at forty-five degrees to the ground to kill the ball’s progress. But I hadn’t taken the spin into account though and it managed, across the magnitude of the universe, through all time and space, to fly neatly between pad and bat, landing, yes, you’ve guessed it, squarely against my crutch. There was a sickening crunch of plastic taking the full force.

The next thing I remember, once my eyes had re-focussed, was reading the scorecard. Three balls, no runs, retired injured.

My first day of proper cricket.

The whites are still waiting for the second ...


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