The seasonal cycle between footy in winter and cricket in summer is one that most of us have lived and grown to embrace for a majority of our lives. As one season passes, the next arrives in seemingly shorter fashion. Amidst the final few rounds of footy, the first cricketing email outlining schedules is sent, and with surprise, the response year after year is; ‘shit, already?!’
The dusty kit is pulled from the boot of the car and the forgotten last year's remnants of going-out-kit, unpaired socks, and stained whites, is belatedly emptied into the washing machine after spending many a month confined in the dark pit of sweaty pads and a stale helmet. My footy team is farewelled pre-September and the customary visit to the cricket store to top up stocks ensues. Leaving with a much lighter wallet, and with the car now used primarily as a second wardrobe loaded with cricketing gear and clothes, the sometimes daunted pre-season training is often the next stop.
This year however, was a year of change. There was a distinct lack of pre-season emails received from now ‘ex’ coaches from previous seasons. Old team uniforms escaped the wash and were instead destined for the bin. Years’ worth of long worn tyre trails from A to B no longer existed and new paths were directed into the heart of Sydney’s Camperdown Campus. Unfamiliar faces replaced the old familiar names whose connections were now severed. The realisation of a long successful chapter closing, and a fresh one beginning, resurfaced familiar feelings of excitement this time accompanied with a strong sense of nervousness. Will I perform for the team? Will this new home be somewhere where my enjoyment for cricket (and a post-game change room beer) can thrive? All questions asked by nervous future debutants. The only familiarity being?... my footy team was still farewelled pre-September.
Pre-season came and went. The wrath of ‘Broncos’ and extended hill sprints up Science Road were felt. Repeated bouncers from bowlers committing customary one meter no-balls in the ‘synthos’ were faced and dealt with. Full ‘straight one’s’ on middle were sometimes given the rusty-gate leave on middle peg. Round one arrived quickly thereafter and places were chosen in the change room. Certain spots were carefully avoided namely a five meter circumference surrounding Ed’s spot and Mailys’ corner.
One of the biggest learning curves encountered for a ‘fresher’ however, was the famous Nashball. After seeing fellow debutants from afar lay down a few drop-punts, important lessons were learnt before fully immersing one’s self in the Nash experience. Life lessons like: you can’t catch the ball below waist height, you can place the ball on the ground and it stops the game, and you can’t kick a ball whose sole purpose is for kicking, were pondered. With intense game-day Nash rivalry, never have I encountered a warm-up that does just that so well. So far, the top six have far outshone the bowlers with many a beer owed by the latter.
The arrival at Sydney University Cricket Club was much like I expected it to be. State-of-the-art facilities, incredible support, and a world-class spectacle of a campus. Unexpectedly, the people and new team mates were more than accommodating and instead of feeling like an intruder, we were welcomed on equal grounds. Most notably, there was a unique aura of confidence and relaxedness, presumably a bi-product of positive attitudes’, self-driven motivation, and work-ethic. Importantly, I found that these values which seem to be deeply entrenched in my new teammate’s psyche are often practiced outside of cricket (whether it be intense study or highly demanding jobs) and will no doubt be an advantage for SUCC’ers on the field. This is something unique to SUCC that I haven’t observed in any other club, but something I find highly exciting and appealing in going forward.
Three rounds in, and after having had an amazing start so far by all, the excitement for the impending season is yet to be tarnished by three consecutive globes, or wearied by 96 overs in 40 degree heat watching some bloke block out a draw. The unaware self is also yet to experience the potential successes of premierships, hundreds, five-fa’s, or promotions for fellow team-mates. All are familiar processes that we have spent year in and year out gradually refining to make us all better people and players. How we deal and celebrate these ups and downs which are experienced by each individual and each team within our club is ultimately, what we play for.
As the seasons keep on rolling in, I have looked forward to this one more than any in recent times. I also look forward to the new memories, successes and mateships that are, and have yet to be forged.
Good luck to all for the season and I look forward to catching you around.