I roughly remember the pitch report …
“Hard and dry; could become dusty on occasion, has a tendency to spin unexpectedly, and given the changing weather and a bit of cloud cover could make the wicket bounce. Looks like a batsman’s paradise where runs would flow, but scoring could be restricted at times if the opposition closes the corridors and tightens the field with close catches. The ground has a history of making games interesting by keeping batsman on their toes. With a sharp mind, strong will, a light-hearted approach to each delivery and with good sportsmanship a batsman is assured of a long stay at the wicket.”
Before I could digest all of that, I was called to buckle up and take guard at the wicket. The Umpire looked strict, with a strong eye that would not blink even between overs, he smiled but I was not sure if he was being kind or sly in his manner.
I looked down the pitch, remembered the pitch report, yes, this is exactly what was said. I was excited and eager to get on with the game; to see what the opposing team, known by the name of “Destiny” was going to throw at me. I didn’t feel afraid at all; I had the best coach watching over me from the pavilion called “Heaven” and he had chosen the very best team known as “Angels” to support me. They had many talents and so much love, I knew I was surrounded by them and they were always close that I never felt weak or afraid at anytime.
This was the game, and the trophy at stake was LIFE!
My job was to preserve my wicket for the longest period, score many many runs, and if in the unavoidable circumstance…… I get hit by the odd ball and fall, I should take my time to get back up, face the next ball with confidence and continue batting for victory of my team.
I adjusted my head gear, looked at my crisp pure White suit, looked up at the glorious sky that was blue with a few white clouds on the horizon, the sun was warm not too hot, a gentle breeze was flowing across the grounds, the stands were full of spectators and they were chanting in one voice “Stay Strong you can do It”!!
I looked down the ground and there stood “Destinies” bowler dressed in Midnight Black. He was ever ready to run in and bowl the best ball he could and keep doing it until I lost my concentration, courage or just gave up so he could claim his victory for “Destiny” and run away with the cup of LIFE!
I took a deep breath, checked my guard and faced the first ball and with that started my stay at the wicket…….
After a while, I looked up and noticed the sun was overhead and knew it was close to noon, the bowler ran in and bowled, it was a medium pacer, by now I could see the ball well, the ball looked like a red cherry which had been polished over and over again and I could see it leave the bowlers hand, hit the pitch and Wizz pass me as it was way out of my playing corridor. The wicket keeper collected the ball and returned it to the bowler who was by now at the top of his run up for the next delivery. I looked around at the fielders, they looked sharp and ready to pounce on any lose chance I may provide. The umpire looked cool but unemotional, stone faced and stood tall. The bowler started his run-up and reached the bowling crease and delivered a fast paced delivery, it was straight heading to my toes, my eyes light up, my muscles strengthened and I played the best shot I had practiced, it flew passed the close up fielder and speed along the field towards the longest boundary, Destinies fielders were chasing behind trying to cut it off from reaching the boundary and cutting short the score I was approaching……..
The ball picked up speed and crossed the rope, the stone faced Umpire brought out the best smile I had seen from an unemotional face, he signalled that a boundary had been secured, the score board lit up with the best colours and the spectators were in a standing ovation cheering “Congratulations”, I lifted my head and looked at the pavilion and their in great joy and love was my team of Angels and above them my coach smiling with blessings that only heaven could provide.
I had preserved my wicket, stood my ground and not got out while scoring a Half-Century. Never knew that making it to 50 would be such a great achievement and joy.
Never, never, would I have made it this far if it was not for the support of the wonderful Angels who make up the team I have been given. The assistant coaches that have been a part of my journey from my younger years to this moment were many and wonderful; they have guided, protected, cared, healed, supported and more than anything loved me with no limit. Many of them I do fondly remember and there are many more wingless angles whose shadow has shaded me.
So now, I have made it to that elusive half century……..the pitch report was so correct…..there were moments when the dry and hard pitch made the ball named “time” come at me fast and furious and there were moments when I had to stay patiently until the delivery took its time to reach me. Each over was different, some would look just so innocent, but when it hit the ground and spun viciously it made life’s moments difficult to read and confusing. Some overs were mild and medium paced making life feel relaxed and easy going. But then suddenly, there would be a change in the weather and with dark clouds covering the grounds the ball would swing and bounce and make life very difficult, some did hit me and make me fall to the ground. But each time I fell, my team of Angels would rush to the field and heal my wounds and support me back to my feet; and then when I could stand on my own they would cheer me on and I would face the next ball with confidence again.
My suit is now not crisp white as I arrived, it’s dusty, muddy, and with a few blood stains from the times I fell; sweat and toil at the wicket has made me look a bit aged, not the younger self that I would have loved for all to see.
Now, it’s up to me to continue, to guard my wicket for many more years and achieve much more, while helping my Angels achieve their goals and stay safe while they play their own game too.
I hope to add some light-hearted humour to the next session, so at least the umpire would smile more often, the spectators would be amused, and the weather would feel warm and not too harsh throughout the afternoon years.
I continue to pray my coach sitting in Heaven, will teach me the technics of strength, give me the wisdom of age and the courage of maturity, to achieve as much as possible, while keeping Destiny at bay until the end of my days play.