Today is my final day of leave before returning to work after the Christmas/New Year break. It's been a busy time of celebrations, catch ups and camping.
Today I chose to watch Hayden's Eastern District Black under 12 rep team play their second match of a five match cricket round robin. Many of you would be reading this and thinking what an horrific way to spend my last day off. If you know me, you'll know there aren't many more perfect ways for me to relax and prepare for the busy work year ahead.
I have been a cricket fan for most of my life. From about age 5 my dad would take me to his warehouse cricket games on a Saturday afternoon to give my mum some time with just my sister at home. I learned to love the game (after all it must be a great game, my dad was playing!) and when I met my future husband (at an indoor cricket centre), I knew the tradition of Saturday afternoons at the cricket would continue.
Fast forward another 15 years and here I am at my son's first rep carnival.
Cricket is a cruel and taunting game. The turn of the ball, inconsistency of the pitch, the luck of a fielder getting their hand to a tough catch - these are all things that can make or break your day. There is no sound worse than the sound of the ball slamming onto the wooden stumps when you're batting, but no sound sweeter when you're bowling. It's a team game and an individual struggle all in one and it's done in the heat of summer under a scorching sun.
I love the emotion of the game. The high highs and the low lows. The camaraderie when a wicket is taken or just a "great nut" has been bowled. The anticipation as the batsman walks out to the crease and the long, slow walk of shame when they are dismissed. The anguish on a bowler's face when the catch is dropped off his bowling and the glee when the wicket is taken.
And so here I am today, watching my son ride the roller coaster that is cricket. The triumphant smile as he gets off the mark with a four, the frustrated replay of how he should have played the ball after a "swing and a miss" and the shame as he runs out his batting partner before he has even faced a ball.
I watch him run through the full gamut of these emotions and worry a little about the emotional affect that this game may be having on his young, impressionable mind. He broods over his perceived failures and replays how he should have done things over and over in his head.
But then I see him chasing dandelion puffs around the outfield and laughing with his team mates and I realise I wouldn't have it any other way. He loves a sport that his dad, his grandfather and his great grandfather have all loved before him, a love that I'm certain he will pass onto his own children someday.