Thursday, 23 January 2014

Writing - My First Catch

When this topic came up for submission on Readwave I decided to get away from the usual 'first love' type stuff and look at something that instigated an emotional response from the relatively mundane. This is a true story although I haven't completed it because of the 800 word limit.


My First Catch

No I‘m not talking about fishing or angling and neither am I referring to my first girlfriend but rather to a sporting feat that will live in my memory for ever.
I was eleven years of age and selected to play the noble game of cricket for my village’s third team. This sporting unit was made up of a variety of aging but keen men who had seen fitter days, as well as up and coming youngsters, the latter category into which I fitted. I remember the game was an away match and our opponents were Washington Chemical Works.
The fact that I’d been asked to play was a proud moment for my father as well as me and he was asked to be one of the umpires, an official on the field helping control the play. At this point it is worth mentioning that the game was limited in the length of time played, by the number of overs available to each side. I am not going into the rules of the game apart from saying that a batsman can be out if he hits the ball in the air and it is caught by a fielder.
I was in the shadow of my father who had played and in fact captained the first team, but I was only a boy. My father had a car and so gained the privilege of transporting a couple of other team members! The game was due to begin at seven and we were there in good time. The ground was in the shadow of the chemical works offices; it wasn’t a massive playing area and because it was managed in an ad hoc sort of way, the quality and levelness of the pitch was not of the highest standard. This meant that batting was risky and this was before the days of helmets and protective body pads. However it was the same for both teams. As it wasn’t unusual for youngsters to play in this type of match there was an unwritten rule that bowlers, who could hurl the leather covered ball at your stumps at sixty and seventy miles an hour, wouldn’t bowl dangerously.
The toss of a coin was made to see who would bat first and the home team won and decided to bat. We took the field and for the most part, as a new starter I was positioned on the edge of the green sward to give me the opportunity to become accustomed to the speed and hardness of the ball. The game proceeded at a steady pace and the opposition began to accumulate runs. When fielding you can’t always stay hidden on the boundary edge and so there came a point when I was asked to field within twenty yards of the batsmen.
It was inevitable that the ball would be lofted into the air and head in my direction. Even over fifty years further on I can see that red missile arrowing towards me in a rapidly decaying parabolic arc.  I steadied myself, raised my hands to just above chest height and spread my fingers. I’d obviously practised catching this unyielding missile on previous occasions but this was different. If I held on to it, the opposition batsman would be out, if I dropped the ball he would play on and possibly score a great many runs. My team was depending on me!
I never felt the ball hit my hands, I think at the last moment I’d closed my eyes, but when I opened them there it was. The beautiful, shiny red cherry was nestling safely in my hands. It didn’t hurt, I didn’t drop the ball and my team were clapping. I’d done it! I caught an opposition player out. The score book would record my name for ever as the catcher.
I looked towards my father and he was beaming with great pride but I remember feeling confused, happy and received the backslapping congratulations of my team mates, but confused. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry in reality. In point of fact I could feel the tears welling up but I threw the ball back to the bowler and resumed my fielding position shaking myself back into an attitude of concentration.
Thinking back to that event it seems strange how we humans react in such enjoyable but stressful situations and I’d never had any such experience previously. My reaction was undoubtedly down to a heightened emotional state, but I wasn’t unusual, you just have to see the reaction of any sports person as they achieve success. Tears are not unusual!



The story is available on the link below but if you do read it and enjoy the experience please leave a comment or at least click on the 'LIKE' button. Thank You!

 God Bless