David Moseley

Life's little victories

2013-10-29 10:11

David Moseley

While out walking the dog yesterday afternoon I ended up watching the final overs of a schoolboy cricket match. It was that kind of game where the fielding team had grabbed whatever passed for white kit in their cupboards and where the outgoing batsman handed over his bat (and sometimes pads) to the incoming batsman.

It was a midweek game, a fixture for those deemed too inept to represent the school on a Saturday morning, featuring schoolboys who are unlikely to ever bother the scorers at Newlands or the Wanderers one day, the kind of game that I played in many years ago.

Those were the after-school games where your wicketkeeper forgot his box, only to take one in the knackers after missing a routine catch and collapse like a felled redwood, or where you were tempted to raise your bat to the crowd if you got anywhere near double figures.

It was the kind of game where your grandparents arrive to watch you play, but you're batting nine and bowling seven, and they can’t understand how you can take part in a game where all you do is run from one side of the field to the other for three hours, never scoring a goal or taking a conversion.


But back to last night. As the evening shade fell over the players the last few batsmen were doing their best to put bat to ball, which is to say, they were swinging wildly in the vain hope that the bowler might actually hit the bat.

Of the first 11 balls I watched a young batsman stood rooted to the spot wafting his willow enthusiastically in the general direction of the fresh air that surrounded him. Fielders nearest the bat were enjoying the fresh breeze.

The ball flew over his head, scuttled past his feet, whizzed over his stumps, all thumping into the unsteady body of the wicketkeeper, who was doing his best to avoid the ball altogether. The slips erupted into applause when one ball managed to stick in the 'keepers gloves.

Finally, on the 12th ball, the batsman went forward with a text book block that Jacques Kallis would be happy to endorse, and was promptly bowled by a delivery the bowler knew very little about.

Astonished teammates raced to congratulate the wicket-taker while the plucky batsman/windmill trudged off, fiddling around in his pants for a few minutes before handing over his gloves, bat and presumably an unwanted protective box to the new batsman.

Eager to get in, the incoming batsman happily accepted the kit and charged to the crease… and promptly began swatting the same mosquitoes that had been bothering the previous batsman.

Walking away from the game a loud cheer went up from the side lines. The new batsman had inadvertently connected with a ball while trying to bring down a moth, and sent the cherry flying over the boundary for six.

Even the opposing team clapped his good fortune. Parents sitting in cars in the car park honked their horns and already-out batsman ran onto the field to celebrate what I assumed was a last-gasp win.

Small victory

The umpires called time and all concerned sprinted from the field, eager to shake hands with the boy who scored the winning runs.

Approaching a teacher near the boundary, I asked, "A close win, was it?"

No, he replied. That’s the first time he’s ever scored any runs.

Grinning, the teacher walked away to the shake his charge's hand.

Rocket and I walked off, peripheral figures at a momentous occasion on an ordinary day, unexpected witnesses to a small victory in the grand scheme.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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