Playing Up: a Junior's Perspective
From our Junior Correspondent 3 of 7

3. Playing Up: a Junior's Perspective

Most cricketers dream of playing cricket for their county or country but as a junior player, my first ambition was to play adult cricket. Having watched a lot of adult cricket, the thought of getting out there with the adults was exhilarating yet terrifying, especially as I have a super demanding, cricket-crazy Dad who is now (almost) a Richmond legend.

When I finally got the opportunity to move up to the exciting world of adult cricket, I couldn’t wait to play. I vividly remember the week of the game, I could hardly contain my excitement and all I could think about was the Saturday. I was at the nets for 4 days that week and I genuinely think that my family and friends thought I had gone a bit bonkers.

Since that day, I have played a full season of adult cricket, but I'm still getting used to the traditions and eccentricities of it, if one ever can! For one, the verbal onslaught is just constant. As a child playing any sport, you are brought up being told to play in the ‘right spirit’ of the game. Cricket, known as a gentlemen’s game, is no exception. As juniors, we were shielded from sledging (or at least we’re supposed to be), though our games still had a competitive edge. In my first game itself, I quickly realised the world of adult cricket is like a war! Walking out to the middle, we were around 50-5 chasing 240 and there were insults being thrown at me even before I got to the square, not in the least because I was just fourteen and probably looked it as well, with small pads and a kid-size bat (which I was reminded of by every fielder throughout my innings). At first I was shocked, having had minimal experience with this type of verbal attack on a cricket field, but it actually inspired me to dig in and prove them wrong, and I ended up with a painfully slow 56 not out. While the constant barrage of sledges, some of them very clever, was surprising and unexpected, it was an experience which I look back on with very fond memories.

Another surprise about adult cricket is in the aftermath of the game. As a junior, after a game, I’m used to packing up my kit and leaving immediately. This is not the case in the adult game. Having finished my first game and entering the changing room, I sat down and looked at my phone. When I looked up, seconds later, it was clear that after a day in the hot sun it was shower and changing time for most of the team. I decided it was time to grab my kit and retreat to the great outdoors where I waited for my lift to Richmond to experience the social side of club cricket back at Old Deer Park.

My Dad is an absolute cricket addict and does not leave any chance to watch, train or play and he genuinely eats, sleeps and breathes cricket. We have always been extremely competitive, bragging if we scored more runs than each other, and while he has scored way more runs than I have, I think he is now beginning to get a little nervous about being outscored by his fifteen year old son. My Dad has been at RCC for over 10 years, playing for the 2nd XI and I’ve seen him play on many occasions, and I’ve always wanted to play with him. When the time finally arrived, I couldn’t have been more excited, rushing to the club and hoping that we could bat together. As we were batting at 3 and 4, there was a good chance that the Desai’s would bat together for the first time ever. As I anxiously waited, fully padded up, I hoped that he would stay in and wait for me to accompany him in the middle. However, as being aggressive and hitting the ball hard is in his nature (there’s no other way he knows to bat), he soon hit a ball into mid-offs hands, giving away his wicket cheaply. While I was gutted, I couldn’t help but tease him as he walked off. Having scored more runs than him, I had bragging rights as we went home. For the next few days, he couldn't help but be bitter than he had been outscored and I was obviously over the moon with it.

The only one bit that’s not ideal about this is that my Mom refuses to let me rub it in as we then have a super-grumpy man at home for a week!

I’m one season in, and still discovering and trying to navigate the absolutely crazy but fun world of adult cricket. Its definitely the most amazing experience I have had playing cricket and I can’t recommend it enough to any junior player.

To help Ayaan to have more chances to score more runs than his dad please check out our Appeal