Sean McParlin Blog- Younger Than Springtime

15 Apr


Sean McP
Cricket Scotland Blogger Sean McPartlin gives us his latest blog as the season rapidly approaches - YOUNGER THAN SPRINGTIME

He Tweets HERE

It occurred to me some time ago that, bizarrely, I subconsciously regard all sport stars as older than me. For nearly half my life that has been a piece of chronological nonsense, unless you count cribbage or carpet bowls. Nevertheless, unless they happen to be former pupils of mine, I’m quite likely to mutter about ‘old and past it’ in reference to players half my age, and, on the occasions when I actually meet players socially, I tend to be quite amazed that they are ages with my son rather than with me. 

The latest example of my time shifting syndrome came last week. By coincidence, for the second season running, my cricket season commenced at The Parks in Oxford, where the MCCU side were taking on Notts CCC. The students are always keen to show they deserve their first class status, and, as some of the Notts stars were jetting their way back from points around the globe, the Tent Bridge side had youngsters playing who would want to impress their coach; it made for an interesting day’s cricket. 

The Parks must be a brilliant ground in midsummer – like playing in the Botanics, but in early April, it was grey and chilly – though not remotely in the same climatic hemisphere as the top of the Grange pavilion! As a result, most spectators had taken to the shelter of the seats in front of the pavilion. 

As play got under way, three or four of the Notts lads who were waiting to bat came and sat directly behind me. This may be interesting, I thought. What do players talk about at this level when waiting to face county bowlers? 

Well, it turned out that two of them had just moved into a shared flat – and this was monopolizing the chat. The stand for the telly had already arrived, and the flat screen itself was anticipated on Friday.         

“Your dad been there much?”

            “Yeh – every day – he’s painting everything..”

            “And your mum?” 

At which point the flatmate broke in:

            “Aw – his mum’s amazing – every time she visits, she leaves the biscuit tin full!” 

Suddenly, I was reminded of the youth of so many who play for our dreams. 

The stories on Jonathan Trott, and before him on Graham Thorpe, Marcus Trescothick and others, have highlighted over the years  the mental strain of top level cricket – but, in those cases, the stress was perhaps understandable in that they were performing at a high level of earnings, and livelihoods were at stake whenever they crossed the white line. 

However, cricket is a game that lends itself to reflection and introspection, and there are many who play the game at a lower level than these international stars, for whom its importance is a major part of their lives. 

We can never know, as spectators, how important cricketing success is to the individual, what role it plays in their coping with their lives, their self image, or their plans for the future. 

When we say this is a crucial year for Cricket Scotland, we may focus on preparation for the World Cup, consolidation of our recent good form, and the task ahead for players and coaches. However, all of that, ultimately, is based on individual progress, success, or failure.

It struck me that there will be many young people donning their whites in the approaching season whose circumstances will make it more than just a game, who will be dependant on runs or wickets or selection policies for the tenor of their lives over the next twelve months or more. Physical injuries can hinder progress, mental problems can derail ambitions. 

Whether seeking international selection at senior level, or victories in the junior teams or the Wildcats camp, I hope our young players find the kind of success that will make them happy in themselves as well as energizing the support of the oldies round the boundary. 

As spectators, we pay the price for our entertainment at the gate, or in membership dues; the players whom we watch run the risk of paying the price in their lives. 

As old heads, we should recognize that the responsibility is often on young shoulders.

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