Saturday, 29 September 2012

A Gentleman's Game

I had the pleasure of attending the annual 'Gentleman's match' between Parnell and Whangarei's Central City Club this afternoon.  It's an annual fixture between the two clubs, with hosting rights being rotated each year. This was Parnell's year to host, and Orakei Domain with the artificial wicket was chosen as the venue. They are two very different clubs, with Central having a total of  8 teams in the whole club, and Parnell with 12 teams just in Grade 4.

Parnell v Central City  at Orakei Domain 29 Sept 2012

I only found out the match was on when I was at the Grade 5 Academy net session early this morning, and all the Parnell old guard were getting gear together for the match this afternoon. An invitation was extended to me to join them at the boundary rope and stay around for the barbecue afterwards. I could hardly refuse!

So, once I'd done all my little jobs, I packed up my cricket chair, grabbed some food and a couple of kids, we headed down to the Orakei Domain for a Spring Saturday cricket session. It was warm, but not that sunny and the match was delayed by an hour so the grounds could dry out. This resulted in 40 overs each being played. I won't go into great detail about the final score, or the individual results as that is not what this is about. This is an annual match between two clubs with mutual connections, who enjoy catching up either at Cobham Oval in Whangarei, or at Parnell's home ground. It's a chance for old friends to catch up and tell stories, relive good times, and also to make new friends.
It's one big family of people all enjoying themselves over a game of cricket.

During the hours that I spent sitting at the boundary rope, we had sunshine, we had clouds and even some light showers. There was tipene run going on behind me, and rugby kicks happening to my right. I had a cold beer pressed into my hand, and was offered muffins, biscuits and cups of tea. I had strawberry juice on my chin as I watched the leg stump go spiraling in the air.  Then I watched a tail ender batting with glee as I brushed cake crumbs from my shirt.

It was the best kind of day.A cricket match in September will always make me smile, but seeing the absolute pleasure with which these two teams faced off, was sheer delight. I love how both teams applauded each other's efforts, and everyone just enjoyed a jolly good game of cricket, and each other's company.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The backyard of Eden

I've been moaning about Auckland Cricket's move back to Eden Park 2 ever since I realised they were not going to change their minds about staying at Colin Maiden.

I have loved my favourite team being based at Colin Maiden Park for the past few years for lots of reasons.
Colin Maiden is my backyard. It's so local that I was able to wait out the weather and pop down to the game at the last minute , instead of sitting around in the rain. (very important in the Summer of 2011/12).
It's also close enough to home that I could go to a Plunket Shield match in the morning, lie around up under a pohutukawa tree all day, pop out at 3pm to do the school run and be back well in time for the last session of the day. I would bring the kids down,have afternoon tea at the game, and then they would run around playing cricket at the boundary ropes. Hell, some weeks, we even got takeaways and had dinner down there!
I loved sitting on the grass at the top of the hill, looking out to the Tamaki Estuary and watching the sunlight shimmer on the water in the distance. I got a kick out of stretching out under one of the big old pohutukawas with cicadas buzzing and clicking overhead.
I loved watching cricket at such a small ground where it was almost intimate. I got to know everybody- players, ground staff, umpires, the ladies who made the toasted sandwiches at lunchtime, other spectators.

So, today I took a very deep breath and decided that it was time to accept that all of that is just a happy memory and it's time to embrace the new home of Auckland Cricket, and make the best of it. So, on a sunny Spring Saturday morning, I took a drive across the city to Eden Park number two. Naturally I moaned all the way there about the traffic, and mentally calculated faster and more efficient ways to do the trip next time. And where would I park? And just where is the entrance to the grounds anyway? How would I actually get in on November 10th , when the first match is being played there?

So I arrived at the Sandringham Rd end, and looked for a park. All along the main road is No Parking. Of course it is. Then I had a flashback memory to when I used to come to Eden Park number two way back in the days when I wagged school to be there. Back then, I used to park my Mini in a side street right opposite the grounds. Sure enough I found that same spot today- albeit driving a Holden 7 seater, not a Mini 1300.

It was like flicking a switch, and all these old memories came flooding back, reminding me of my Grandma Grace (GG) and I being there together. I crossed the road for a closer look through the fence, and was pleased to see the old wooden stand there amongst the modern garishness of the new South Stand. I found myself pointing to the old stand and saying to my son (who was dragged along after cricket training)- "That's where I used to sit with my Grandma and eat Oddfellows, and hot chips, and watch the cricket." 
"Geez mum, you never buy us Oddfellows and hot chips at the cricket." 
Yeah well I asked for that didn't I?

The ground staff were going about their business preparing the turf, the sprinklers were on and the sun was shining. No cicadas yet, and not many leaves on the one and only tree that's left there. But you know what? I think it's going to be a good Summer there. I had better make sure the cafeteria sells hot chips  and Oddfellows and settle in for a good one.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Righty Lefties & Lefty Righties

This is an unusual topic to be blogging about in relation to cricket. Or is it?
Over the past few years, I have become increasingly aware that there are cricketers who bowl with one hand yet bat with the other. So, they must be ambidextrous- right? Nope. They might be, but  are not necessarily.
This is about a thing called 'mixed dominance' or 'cross dominance'. It is all about how the brain determines motor skill manifestation. All of us have a dominant hand, eye and foot. In a mixed dominant person, these are not all lined up. For example, you could be right footed and right handed, but left eye dominant. Therefore you would perform some tasks with your left hand and others with your right. Ambidextrousness is a form of mixed dominance where the two sides are equally proficient.
So, this stuff becomes apparent in cricket where we see batting and bowling. The majority of players are all Left or all Right. But there are a few special ones who are a bit of both.

Trent Boult was the one who jogged my memory. Watching him bowl recently, I saw that left arm going over his head in the normal fashion. But when he came out to bat, he was a Righty! I had to double check that and looked him up online, and sure enough, he's a Righty Lefty.  After further investigation, I found his brother JJ Boult is also one of them, but he's the opposite- he's a Lefty Righty!
So that started a conversation, who else do we know that's a Lefty Righty or vice versa?
Straight away, I had a list of New Zealand cricketers that I had noticed.
Jesse Ryder- LH Bat, RH bowl
Jacob Oram- LH Bat, RH bowl
R A Hadlee- LH Bat, RH bowl
Martin Snedden- LH Bat, RH bowl

Then I looked at recent Aussies.

Michael Clarke- RH Bat, LH bowl
David Hussey- RH Bat, LH bowl
Michael Hussey- LH Bat, RH bowl

Then I discovered that mixed dominance may be advantageous in sports where there is a side on stance- like cricket, baseball, or golf. The dominant eye faces, and the dominant hand controls the swing. There is also a common theme with the mixed dominant sportspeople, that they often have exceptional hand eye coordination.

Casting the net a bit wider, I discovered other notable sportspeople who are mixed dominant and also known for excellent hand eye coordination. Sachin Tendulkar is a classic example.The Little Master has scored 15,533 test runs. He bats, bowls and throws Right Handed, but he writes Left Handed. He is also known for practicing in the nets with Left Handed throws.
David Gower, who played 117 tests, scoring 8231 runs for England is another Lefty Righty. He was a Left Hand batsman, but bowled Right Handed. He also plays golf, hockey, kicks a ball and writes Right Handed. David Gower was also known for being ambidextrous in the field.

Maria Sharapova was noticed for her hand eye coordination even before she started school. She later developed into the tennis player we know today, and is a Righty Lefty. Rafael Nadal is similar, but the reverse- he's a Lefty Righty.

Closer to home, I have a son who is a Lefty Righty. He bats Left Handed, but bowls Right Handed. He kicks a football with his Right Foot, but can also do Left, plays hockey Left Handed, plays tennis with one hand for forehand and the other for backhand. He writes Right Handed. He is also known for his excellent hand eye coordination and sporting ability.
He was the one that started me researching this, as he noticed cricketers that were like him, and he wondered why. So Trent Boult, Jacob Oram and Jesse Ryder are closely watched by one small cricketer in our house. He relates well to them, wants to be more like them.
 Richard Hadlee is also an idol. He read all about Hadlee in one of his cricket books a few years back and announced "he's just like me!" well, not quite, but it's good to have something to aim for.