It was my day of judgement at Copford Cricket Club, in a tiny village unknown to many people. All of the people important to me were there ready to watch me. I arrived at the venue at 12:10pm. My stomach was churning, and I felt very small and insignificant.
This was to be my first full game for the first team. I was thrilled to have reached this milestone and I had come prepared to battle against the fully grown, brute-like men who were just waiting for me to be their easy target. I was sitting all alone in the corner of the pavilion whilst my opponents were strolling past, full of confidence, staring and laughing with a disrespectful look on their faces, merely because of my young and tender age. I walked slowly into the small and cramped changing rooms. I found myself surrounded by many of my idols, all prepared for the challenge, which left me the final player to prepare and get ready for the game. Out of nowhere I suddenly had a sinking sensation of impending doom as I realised what an enormous task I was faced with.
I walked out onto the field. The weather was picture perfect for a memorable day, with the clouds sparse and the sky as blue as the ocean. Many birds were chirping in the sun lit afternoon and the grass was as smooth and velvety as baize on a snooker table.
As the game got underway, the balls seemed to be rocketing past at the speed of light, destroying my already low confidence. It never seemed to end, with each over ripping apart my self belief, until finally the agony of being in the field had suddenly ended. I couldn’t get off the field and into the changing rooms fast enough. However, I soon relaxed and began to enjoy myself as I began to talk to my fellow team mates about what would happen if I had to go out and bat. They tried to reassure me, telling me that there was not one thing for me to worry about if I was needed.
The food was set for all to eat and I ate greedily, shovelling it all in as if this was to be my last meal and reinforcing the feeling that I was to become some sort of ritual sacrifice out on the field!
As the game got underway again, gradually the wickets began to fall, meaning that my turn to bat was creeping nearer and nearer. My stomach rolled and, as my nerves tightened their hold, I began to wish that I had not eaten so much food! Suddenly the captain gave the order that I had been dreading so much: “Get your pads on, kid and do it quickly!’
Off I went, creeping into the changing rooms in complete silence, preparing myself for the battle with the ball. I quickly put on my pads; my hands were shaking so much that I could hardly fasten the buckles. Walking outside, I paced nervously up and down. Then the moment came: the previous batsman was dismissed and I found myself walking the “green mile”, out on to the field.
I was shaking far too much for my own comfort. The closer I got to the crease the more mind-numbingly petrified I actually was, as I finally realised that the other team were just like vultures waiting to finish off their next prey, which was now, unfortunately, me!
I stood at the wicket, bat in hand, standing as still as possible and staring straight into the eyes of the tall, butch bowler who was thundering in with what seemed to be a ball of fire, ready to burn through my bat at 75mph. There I was, completely petrified and hanging on for dear life. Unexpectedly, gradually, ball after ball, my sparse confidence began to grow and I began to relax and enjoy myself.
Finally my moment came as the ball pounded off this huge piece of solid willow like thunder, enraging the bowler more and more. My teammates were falling by the wayside, leaving me to fend for myself against all of these raging creatures and seeming to deliberately create a world’s weight of pressure upon my small and brittle shoulders. Time seemed to stand still as I battled away; I had already lost count of how many runs I had scored. Little did I realise that, to the amazement of the watching crowd, the total was slowly, but steadily building up.
Just as I really began to enjoy myself, the moment I had been so afraid of happened. There was a loud scream of “HOWZAT!” and all the “vultures” sprang into the air like jack-in-the-boxes. My heart was pounding dangerously fast and I most definitely had a lump in my throat. Then, to my complete amazement, I heard two stern but magic words thunder out of the umpire’s mouth: ‘NOT OUT!’
I looked around only to see many shocked and disappointed faces, so surprised that I didn’t hit the ball.
Just a few minutes later the ball was buzzing down towards me and there I was, watching it fly for four priceless runs. Standing alone and shocked, I turned towards the pavilion to see many faces screaming and shouting ‘Well done!’
I stood there with an extremely large smile pasted onto my face for what seemed like an age. However, it was quickly erased as I turned back towards the fielding side, who were as angry as monsters staring at me with a ruthless look upon their faces. There I was, trapped amongst these very angry men, with only my captain there to protect me from these raging bulls. This only made me more determined than ever to stay out in the middle and fight to the end, if only to spite these arrogant men.
The minutes were passing by as I was getting close to the end of a perfect day. My final shot added another four points to our score and, for the first time that day I felt I could easily hold my head up high as I marched off the pitch, with the sound of my team mates’ applause ringing in my ears. I was smiling broadly as my team mates congratulated me; the opposition could only watch, loathing every moment as they had been outplayed by a five feet seven inches, fourteen year old, school boy. I was certainly over the moon at having achieved such a goal so early on in my life.
Before I went to bed that night one final thought had entered my brain: no-one will ever be able to take this away from me. No matter what happens in the future, I will never forget the day that I scored 56 runs not out.