I have a son who plays cricket. He isn’t the greatest player in the team, nor is he the worst (by a long way). He plays in the first team and believe me at this age they are starting to get good enough to watch without the compulsory caffeine drinks to keep you awake. He bats and he bowls to a reasonable level (for those of you that care, he is a lefty and so causes some problems in both departments). But this season we had a new development,
“Dad, I want to play wickie”
For the uninitiated, the wickie is the sucker that stands behind the batsman and catches any wild balls as well as trying to catch, stump the batsman (ok….it is more complicated than that….but I’m trying to keep you with me). When you play cricket aged 11, there are a lot of wild balls….and a lot for the wickie to do. There is also a lot of focus on the poor kid having a wooden and leather ball hurled at him at speed, not to mention thumping great wooden bats swinging around his head.
Immediately a voice inside me wanted to say, “No….just bat and bowl…..let some other sucker take the blame for everything that goes wrong”. But of course I didn’t and he started to play (straight away…..because no-one else wanted to).
Being on the sidelines when your kid plays sport is a heart wrenching experience, you want them to do well, you don’t want to pressure them and you want them to have fun. But you can also hear the other kids and worst of all the parents…..
“Bloody dodgy keeper”
“If we had a decent keeper we’d have won”
The usual stuff.
Admittedly I’m biased, but the fact is that this just isn’t true. It is just one of those roles where no-one notices the 100 balls that you take safely….only the one that you let through.
And of course if I can hear these comments, then so can the boy.
After the game, we normally have a drive home from whichever far-flung village they have been playing in and we discuss his and his team’s performance. He is frank and open and honest about the things that he did well and the areas that he has to improve in. We talk about the comments and how he needs to block them out and we talk about the importance on focussing on the things that you can control and not the things that you can’t.
If a kid bowls a ball that is 2 metres wide of the stumps that is not your responsibility, you can only try to rectify the situation.
I admit that when he started, I was secretly hoping that he would pack it in and let some other poor kid take the blame. But he has proven to be made of sterner stuff than me and I completely support and respect his decision. Instead of thinking of ways to persuade him to drop his responsibilities, I’m now reading up on training techniques and the role of a wicket keeper.
Sometimes it takes a boy to be a man, to show a man he is being a boy.