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June 2008
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The captain’s blog

June 27th, 2008 by Edward Craig in Club cricket and tagged , ,

I captain a league side. Barnes CC in the Middlesex League division two – that’s one below the premier league, which is called division one – confused? So if we get promoted, we get to play at a first-class ground (Southgate) against resting Middlesex county players, retired pros and myriad Aussie and Saffa imports – think teams full of Grant Elliotts.

But we’re not going to get promoted. We’re heading the other way. At least, if the form that has so richly deserted our batting continues to remain reclusive, we’re heading south. And this brings its own problems. Seven games in, five losses, two losing draws and a two-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player has left Barnes CC at the foot of the table on nil points.

It can only get better, say the chin-uppers (they are my support). Sadly, they are wrong. Things can also stay the same.

So, like every week, I look at my availability sheet to prepare to do battle with the second-team captain over any form players. As usual, availability is poor and getting worse. This is the difficulty with losing. Injuries take longer to mend and happen more frequently, players retire mid-season readily – I’ve had two of those this morning – bad batsmen think they should bat higher up the order, good batsmen think they should bat lower, or worse, think they should bowl. Everyone blames everyone and everything for the poor form – we should bat first, we should field first, we need to find a pro, we need to coax this bloke out of retirement, we need to practise harder, we need to practise less, we need to relax, we need to be more fired up.

And, as captain, I sit in the middle taking all the advice, occasionally listening to it, then pick my side.

Everyone knows why we are rubbish this season, everyone knows how to make it better but no one admits it. The strength of my club is its enormous weakness. Barnes allows players to miss Saturdays without sanction. I am going to five Saturday weddings this year myself, so it’s not like I can complain. You miss a Saturday and you don’t lose your spot. Someone comes in, then drops out. There’s little team unity or spirit as a result and if the results don’t work, you feel that disjointed dressing-room more acutely. Having to introduce new faces to a team each week is weird and wrong.

What Barnes does have is massive talent – great batsmen, good bowlers – but it is not coming together yet.

But, I’ll still keep going, keep selecting, keep turning up to training, keep enthusiastic. That’s the least I can do.

And it is only a game – it’s not even a job – even if it can feel more than that.

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