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How park cricket saves my brain

Author: Glenn Peters

Category: Stories

Glenn Peters is a guerilla cricket commentator, a blogger and tweets as the @nightwatchman. The man loves his cricket. He even spends his weekends over summer playing park cricket. So what does cricket do for his brain that keeps him coming back, year after year?

The simple bits:

 

  • Glenn Peters is a bit of a cricket tragic
  • He plays park cricket each weekend for the Abbotsford Anglers
  • He find batting a meditative process
  • The relationships with his teammates have helped him through tough times

 

 

I’m a bloke of a certain age. My work and family weeks are wild. Not wild, in a fighting crime in double denim while bringing up 17 foster kids wild, just a pretty normal two young kids, moderately stressful freelance worker, kind of wild. Like you, I have a lot on my mind. 

Saturdays are the one time of the week I can stand out in a suburban oval and think of nothing but ball on willow and what I’m going to eat for lunch. It’s a paradise. 

I play for the Abbotsford Anglers. We don’t play in Abbotsford and none of us fish. We got the name because a bunch of bozos came up with the idea of starting the club while on a fishing trip. That’s the essence of my club, and most other clubs out there – just people who love having a hit on the weekend. 

It’s park cricket. Not grade cricket. Not representative cricket. No sheep stations. Just cricket played in a park. There’s a couple of hundred thousand of us who play it every week. The standard is ahem…look. I’ve played in some brilliant games and seen some spectacular stuff out there, but mostly, the standard is very average. 

“That’s the essence of my club, and most other clubs out there – just people who love having a hit on the weekend.”

That takes nothing from the intensity of what happens out in the middle. For me, batting is meditation. Bowler runs in. Watch every step. Pick up clues in the approach. Watch the ball out of the hand. See it coming. Think, should I play it, or leave it, quick decide, watch, it’s coming real fast, close my eyes, what? Close my eyes? Swing. No contact. Nothing. Oooohs from the keeper. Look down. Think. Swear at myself for closing my eyes. Grumble through it. Fidget. Block out smart Alec comments from the keeper. Bowler ready to go again, and repeat.

This is when I feel I have the most control of my brain and my time on this planet each week. It’s just a bummer if it only lasts a few balls. 

There’s also the people I share my afternoons with. I’ve played alongside cooks, crooks, screws, lawyers, judges, journalists, painters, travellers, actors, footballers, musos, students, taxi drivers, AFL club presidents, politicians, builders, movie directors, union bosses and pub owners. What do we talk about? Everything. All that matters is that we’re there for each other. 

“This is when I feel I have the most control of my brain and my time on this planet each week.”

Because park cricket saves me. One Saturday after a really tough week, I was acting like an idiot on the field. But here’s the thing. One or two of my team-mates had a hunch that something was up, and they were there for me. Not doing too much. As if a bloke knows what to do. It was just their simple, confused generosity that I treasure most from that day. 

How cricket helps me and the many who play can be summed up from something I wrote in my captain’s report a few days after Phil Hughes died, a horrible and weird time for all park cricketers:

“The real game highlights are the things that don’t get noted in the match report. You know. Life things. And as we’ve all felt this week, cricket is beautifully important to all of us. It’s our chance to catch up and have a swear, a sledge, a tonk, an over or two, and to see if we’re all doing okay at home.”

So get out there and join a cricket club. Or any sports club. Just join one. Club sport is much more about sports and fitness and heaps better than going to the gym. Just do it. Your brain will thank you for it. 

 

If you or someone you know needs urgent psychological support please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or see your GP or psychologist.