One of the most unappealing aspects of those to whom ball sports and cricket come rather easily is the lack of appreciation and understanding of the struggles that are faced by those to whom the game does not come easily – and whose efforts are all too easily dismissed with humour and sometimes derision.
In a recent Sky Sports Cricket master-class Rob Key said that the most important thing a coach had to deliver was having the player enjoying the session and wanting to come back the next time. If that applies to coaches it certainly applies to captains and it was heart-warming to see how Lee Kenyon handled his young and slightly not so young team – on and off the field – last weekend.
It was not always so. At the start of one match sometime ago a young cricketer stood with mounting despair and diminishing feeling of self-worth and belonging and rapidly disappearing confidence as the captain set his field. After each placement the captain looked at him with rolling eyes and barely concealed desperation not needing to articulate the thought clearly passing through his mind – “ what the ***** am I expected to do with you” The young man should have said just put me down to third man at both ends and be done with it – but desire just to be picked and play prevented it. Then there was an occasion when a bowler of bowled both a bit of pace and some off-spin was asked when thrown the ball – “what are you going to bowl today – your fast **** or your slow ****“- without any sense of mirth or gentle ribbing.
Of course, it was not always a question of derision and contempt – there were some heartfelt attempts at player development. Two come to mind quite easily both hilarious in their outcome at the time.