A Solid Defence

The true art of batting, outside the twenty over arena at least, is founded in a solid defence. That’s what an innings is built upon. I like to think that’s something I instilled in Forrest when he was very young – probably when he was no more than three years old! This season, I’ve had the privilege of watching his coming of age as a batsman. I’ve often said that cricket mirrors life and my son has demonstrated that with his recent batting. I’ve watched his coming of age as a now not so young man this year. A new confidence in himself has been expressed through his cricket.

I rather relish the fact that Forrest is an old-fashioned cricketer – although not as old-fashioned as I was. My only batting claim to fame was once playing out a hundred minutes for 4 not out as last-man in, stonewalling for an extremely improbable draw in a day when there was no such thing as limited-overs cricket. I was a leg-spin bowler before Shane Warne made the art trendy after a generation of obscurity. I always batted at eleven. Forrest opens the batting, which is the toughest position to hold, as well as the best if you can ride out the storm of the opening few overs and still be around when the shine has come off both the ball and the bowlers. Forrest has done that many times this season. His stats are impressive. He’s scored 628 league runs at an average of 32.40, 12 sixes, 65 fours, 6 fifties and a century. I’ve seen most of his runs – with the exception of the century! He finished the season with scores of 106, 62 and 63 not out. It’s a shame that it’s over when he’s in the form of his life- although that’s not a bad feeling to keep you warm through the winter.

I’ve always had belief in my son’s talent. This is the first season when he’s lived up to his true potential as a batsman. He has a great game. He defends solidly. He leaves astutely. He nurdles cleverly. He drives beautifully. He punishes the bad ball. All that’s left to work on now is his fitness. He’s admitted that. Batting deep is hard work and there have been times this season when he’s been set and thrown his wicket away as a simple result of being knackered. Mind you, it was pretty hot on some of those days. He’s asked me to encourage him to do some running this winter. I’m going to hold him to that.

He won’t always be in this kind of stellar form. Cricket is a harsh sport and it has a habit of biting back at you. But he now knows that he can play at this level and that should always validate his self-belief. There will be times when his form falls away, as it did mid-season this year, but he should understand that it will return with the right work on approach and technique. Application can ebb and flow. Fitness can wax and wane. Luck can desert you. But talent is for life. Remember that in the bad times.

Thank you, Forrest, for much pleasure this summer, for your attitude as well as your runs. You’ve made me an enormously proud dad. Thanks are really due to the whole team from this quiet supporter on the boundary edge, especially to Henry for his passion (and wickets, and that one astonishing ton) and Alex for steading the ship at the key moments. And not forgetting Dick (Henry’s dad), my boundary companion and raconteur extraordinaire. It’s been fun. Finally, thanks also to AJ for a vital bit of coaching and mentoring just when it was needed. That was invaluable. Cricket is a team game like no other. Well done lads. Sixth place in Division Two. Quality.

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