Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Cricket Widower

You know, I've heard talk of these Cricket Widows, but I've never actually met one. Those of us with children that play cricket may or may not be passionate about the game, but we seem to get on with the business of being the support crew. Us mums resign ourselves to years of making the Marmite sandwiches and Milo and being at the boundary rope with sunscreen for the duration. Some of us even learn to score, while others take on the coaching of the youngsters. Yes, that was me during the 2012/13 season, but that's another story.
Those mums that didn't actually like cricket before, learn to appreciate it and love it through their sporting offspring. There's no point in fighting it, so you may as well embrace it. Right?

So, Cricket Widows is not something I can talk about from personal experience. But Cricket Widowers? Well, that's definitely something I know about!
But before we get onto the long suffering Cricket Widower that I live with, let me explain why he's the widower and I am not the Widow.

 For me, cricket has been part of my life since I was a young child. I played it at primary school as well as having a regular backyard cricket session with my brothers. I grew up with cricket on the radio in the heady days of Richard Hadlee, Lance Cairns and Jeremy Coney.
My lovely grandma was a big fan of the cricket and was often to be found in the stands at Eden Park. I really enjoyed spending time with her as a teenager at the cricket. In those days, I wanted to be a sports photographer, so I was at the boundary rope with all my camera gear snapping away. I took an awful lot of photos of Danny Morrison and Willie Watson from memory!
 I also recall wagging school to be at Eden Park with my gorgeous Grandma. It was so easy to fake a note to the teacher to say I had to go to the physio and would be gone all day. Is it any wonder then that I took my four boys out of school on the 5th day of the Third Test to go to Eden Park? Grandma would be so proud of me!

My little allies enjoying the cricket at Eden Park with me.

So, cricket is a big part of my life. Here in the southern hemisphere, the season runs from about October to April. That is six months of sheer, unadulterated bliss for me, and six months of frustration for my husband! Worst for him is that I now have four partners in crime so he is totally outnumbered and outvoted!
I spend a lot of time at the cricket. I go to every home game that Auckland has in the domestic competitions. And of course, I am there waving the flag for my BlackCaps as well. On top of this, I have two sons who play club and representative cricket, and two who play just at club level. And finally, I try to get along to watch the premier club side whenever I can.

So, if you can imagine from October to April, I am tied up every Saturday and Sunday with cricket. Plus, whilst I have been without work, I have been getting to a lot of mid week matches as well. The four lads also have training throughout the week that takes up a bit more time. Not surprisingly, not much gets done around the house during this time of the year.  I have been very remiss and absolutely shirked my domestic duties. The house is untidy, but I am really happy and so are the lads. The widower not so much. But he grits his teeth and gets on with it.
 I was talking to an umpire during the summer who asked me how I managed to get to all the mid week domestic matches. So I explained that I wasn't working, and his response was
 " Well, I hope your house is clean for your husband."
To which I said,
 "No. It's not really. But I didn't want to miss the start of the day's play. It will still be there when I get home."
 His jaw dropped as he sputtered
 "What does your husband think about that?"
"I don't really care. I'm happy."
That shut him up and he shuffled off to find a girl to make him a cup of tea.

To be fair to the Widower, he does just let me get on with it. He moans every now and then, but I think he's come to accept that this is how it has to be. He came along to a few of the domestic T20 matches this Summer and came dangerously close to enjoying himself. He has learned a bit about the rules of the game and can even recognise most of the Black Caps these days.
 He's come a long way from the day when I was watching a match on tv and he looked at it and shouted " Hey- there's two guys running! At the same time!"

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Dear BlackCaps

While you are all sequestered away in training for your upcoming tour to the UK, I have been reflecting on the NZ Summer and thinking about what’s to come.

First and foremost, thank you. Thank you for restoring the hope of all us BlackCaps fans.
We started the summer knowing that our favourite team had been rolled by South Africa for just 45 runs in only 19.2 overs. There were many that said that we should just give up on International Tests altogether as we were embarrassingly uncompetitive. That was in January. Fast forward to March. What a difference 62 days made!

I think I speak for all the supporters when I say that all we wanted was to see you put up a decent fight, and not capitulate. Honestly, a lot of supporters expected you to lose badly to England. A bit of a Fire in Babylon type battle would have been great, but just a good stoush was what we needed to see.

Well, we were in for an unexpectedly good show. Top of my mind is that opening stand in Dunedin with 2 Metre Peter and Hamish Rutherford. Hamish had that phenomenal Test debut with 171 runs. And it was a beautiful innings to watch- really top quality cricket shots and, even better, a display of guts and courage. Jimmy Anderson did his best to rattle them with his bodyline bowling. Hamish took a number of shots to the body, and we didn’t even see him wince. He just stared back at Anderson, showing no emotion at all. The bruises on his arm just kept getting bigger. Anderson got stroppier and stroppier. That was 1-0 to our Hamish.

And 2 Metre Peter, bless him. I don’t think anyone expected him to turn into the giant that he became. He was unflappable, doggedly determined at the crease. I heard a story that when Anderson was giving him some lip, he just eyeballed him and quietly said “look at the scoreboard mate”.

By the second test, I am sure that the BlackCaps support had increased tenfold. All the nay sayers who were calling you the ‘BlackCraps’ had gone quiet. All the talk at Saturday junior cricket was about whether we could dare to hope and dream of a BlackCaps Test victory against the POMS.
It’s a shame the weather had to intervene and rescue the English, because we had seen some real signs that the BlackCaps had fire in their bellies and a real desire to win.

So, onto Auckland and the final test, where weather was not going to play a role. I met some of you BlackCaps on a rest day before the Test and I recall being surprised at how relaxed you all were. I talked about the Test series with Kane Williamson & Dean Brownlie and I told them that you’d already given us more hope than we believed possible. I also said that we just wanted to see you all stand up to the English, and do us proud. At this point I did also confess that I would do anything to follow the BlackCaps to the UK in May so that I could be in the stands waving my BlackCaps flag and with my ‘Bucko Rocks’ banner, to which Kane laughed!

I don’t think any of us New Zealanders expected half of what we got at the Auckland Test. Beefy Botham said it would all be over after three days and he would be going fly fishing again with his spare time. No chance mate.

We saw our newest hero 2 Metre Peter get back to back centuries, and we saw the BlackCaps fighting right down to the very last over on the 5th day.  I took my boys out of school to watch the final day of that Test because I wanted them to have a real life lesson in courage, tenacity and sheer bloody determination. Plus I wanted them to be there when we won!

The image of that attacking field where McCullum had seven fielders around the batsman is something I won’t forget for a long time. It felt like the 1980s, like we were playing Australia in the golden days of NZ cricket! We were attacking, aggressive and on fire!

Due to some batting brilliance from Prior, we were sadly denied the opportunity to win it. But, you BlackCaps won our hearts, and you know what? I think we’ll keep you there for a long time to come.

Just keep on doing what you did. Go to England, heads high and do us all proud. We’ll be watching.

Love from Ruth, on behalf of all your supporters.