9 Things You'll See In Your First Net Of The Season
Updated: May 17
It’s been a long old winter, but spring is here and summer is quickly approaching. Your annual hopes of a successful cricket season return as you unpack the cricket bag in a deserted corner of your house.
You unzip the bag and you're instantly hit with smells that remind you of the cricket season - sticky suncream and a whiff of stale sweat.
But why now? Why are you reaching back into the bag after saying to the 3rd XI captain last summer that your playing days are over? 3 ducks in a row and a batting average of 12.3 is enough to make any opening batsman give up on their dreams.
But nets start tomorrow. You’ve somehow buried your self-loathing and emotionally recovered from being run out without facing a ball by the 65-year-old-club chairman last summer. You’re ready for another season, and this time, things will be different.
You play a few cover drives in the mirror. Your form is good. You tell yourself that the lockdown weight you've added will only make the ball travel further over the boundary.
Your head hits the pillow. And then the nightmares return. You’re at the ground but you’ve left all of your kit at home. You promised your non-existent girlfriend that you’d go for dinner with her and her parents at 6 but you’re approaching your century at 5:59.
You wake up in a cold sweat but, thank god, they were only dreams. Although, a girlfriend would be nice.
So what can you expect from this first net of the year?
1) It’s going to be cold
It’s April in England. Of course it's bloody freezing. You wear three layers and a beanie. You blame any poor performances on the fact that it could snow at any minute.
2) Everyone complains that their back hurts
After the first ball is bowled (into the side netting) someone will turn around to you and say one of two things: A) "My back hurts" or B) "My back is going to hurt in the morning".
3) Someone will have forgotten that they threw their kit out in November
Be prepared to fend off questions from your teammates asking to borrow your bat/gloves/pads/box. Covid-19 won't stop the usual suspects from stealing your stuff.
4) Soooo many wides, no balls and beamers.
There really isn’t much point in batsmen turning up for the first net session. Bowlers seem to forget how to bowl straight, with every delivery ending up in the side netting or flying at your head.
5) Someone will ask you ‘Have you wintered well’?
What does that even mean? No, mate. I've put on two stone and need a summer away from my kids to regain my sanity. You desperately try to remember what your teammate does outside of cricket, and simply respond: ‘Yeah, not bad. Looking forward to the season?’
6) Terrible chat
Cricket is a game full of terrible banter, but the first net session back is as bad as it gets. With everyone out of practice, the chat is as rusty as the bowling.
7) A junior player turns up two feet taller than they were last year
Last year they bowled gentle dibbly-dobblers. Now they're 6 ft 4 with a beard and pinging short balls at your head.
8) You debate last season's performances
"If we’d put on 30-40 more runs/if we’d held that catch/if the rain hadn’t come."... All alternate realities are discussed, suggesting you’ve all learned from last year's mistakes that led to relegation. You haven't.
9) You walk into the net full of confidence, you leave with it completely destroyed
"This is my year", you tell yourself, as you wander onto the artificial turf for the first time this year. You’ve worked hard on your technique in the mirror. You've shadow batted yourself to multiple Test hundreds. The first ball nips back and makes a mess of your plastic stumps. Here we go again.