The 2021 Covid and weather situation affected the Cricket season ends across the board due to late starts, cancelled plays and team members being taken down yet still what a season it has been.
My club (Steyning CC's) first team have had a dominant season in Division 4 West finishing the season on 16 wins, 2 losses and 2 no result, meaning promotion to division 3. The 2's and 3's remain in their leagues and have both been competitive throughout. Its been my first full season with Steyning and what has been so exciting to see is the depth of talent within the club; It's a great feeling to be part of that and to feel like the club you are playing for is really going places. On a personal note however runs for me have been few and far between and it is not something I am familiar with. No matter where or who I have played for I have always hit a few big scores and generally finish with a healthy average, yet this was far from the case this year!
The shots that have been part of my game throughout my adult life of playing cricket just kept getting me out this season and when this begins to happen the self-doubt creeps in, which is probably the worst thing to happen as a batsman as its 90% a mental game! There's a lot of stuff for me to work on over the winter!
What has struck me this season is the confidence in the younger players that i've played with and against; particularly the batsmen. I am playing a higher standard than I have been the past few seasons (due to family life) but the shot selection i've seen is part of a new modern way of hitting - the ramp, the switch-hit and all round power hitting!
It has been so good to witness, as one of the more senior players in my team, these types of shots as they will never be in my repertoire; however it has been fascinating to see the effect it has on both the batter and the bowler. It does make you think though would we have ever seen these types of improvised shots without the shorter formats of the game ever being introduced? The first batter to ever really exhibit these shots in my memory was KP; for a while the purists considered trying to do a switch hit reckless, particularly if he got out! However when it came off it lifted the side and bred confidence in the team (just like a screamer of a catch)!
The coaching now is also very different to when I was in my late teens and early twenties, however speaking to a few of the guys I play with that have been through the Sussex Pathway System, they do still try to instill an aggressive mindset so they have full confidence in playing these attacking shots! This shift in mindset opens up the field and can play havoc with the opposing skippers field placings, ultimately getting inside the bowlers head and change the momentum of the game. More importantly though it creates a mindset where you back yourself.
All in all a bit of a love/hate feeling for me this year. I LOVED being part of a new team, new surroundings, new friends and winning (obviously!). I HATED not hitting any big scores for my new club and showing them that I can actually bat!
Work to be done on the mindset and fitness for the next season....looking forward to the journey!
Have you had an off season before? Let me know how you dealt with the lows!