At primary school, my eldest son was very keen on cricket. Big problem: the school was not connected into the local cricket team network.
So he networked. Cajoling staff and friends’ parents alike, he sweet-talked everyone into joining the competition. There were no teachers involved, little sports gear, no school time practice and no coach… Me? I was so sick with asthma until I was 12 that I never got the hang of competitive sport, and never gained any hand-eye coordination.
Still there I was, barely awake, every Saturday morning, trying to understand an incomprehensible game. Worse, my boy’s team got beaten again, again and again. He had visions of being a champion batsman but… A career as a speed bowler also was not a good idea. Probable factors in this were:
- he was younger than most of the other players
- his non-sport Dad couldn’t hit a ball with a double-barreled shotgun.
Still, grimly, we held in there. I was one of the few parents who were there every Saturday, and one of the very few fathers. I never knew why! I couldn’t play the game. I couldn’t even umpire. But I was there, wishing for a coffee and praying for a miraculous Chappell or Lillee empowering of my son.
By second season his ‘dreams’ had been dashed, but he would not relent. He took the most dangerous fielding positions, settled in lower order batting and went medium pace. Wonderful! He became one of the best all-rounders, and a real asset to the team.
One away-match he was bowling, and the batsman struck the ball straight back at his head. Snatching in the air, he caught it and bounded down the pitch, shaking his fist at the poor batsman, who positively wilted.
The team were wooden-spooners the first season, runners-up the second and champions the third. The results did not matter. I barely missed a match in three years, and I saw my young boy grow.
This was the story of determination and perseverance I shared at his twenty-first, and how proud I was of the moment that I will never forget.
Most Saturdays were not happy successes. Mostly I wanted to be reading a paper and swilling my coffee. But something kept me there, and we won more in our relationship than any cricket match.
Photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash.