You wander back besides the pitch, and pass the stumps. I like that you’re relaxed, although now and then, you break into a little jog as if you’re keen to get on with it. You arrive at the top of your mark, and I bend forward as if being closer to you will help. It’s a symbolic hug, or a pat on your shoulder.
Your mum and I are on our chairs in the Sunday shade. There’s other parents and grandparents sprinkled about beside the school gym. Max is either hurling himself about at the playground, or having a snack. While he shows fleeting interest in the on-field action, we know he wants you to do well when he asks, “How many runs did you make?” or “Did you win, Alex?”
In our frantic and unavoidably scrappy lives, this time in our week is when Mum and I can sit under the immaculate pre-lunch sky, and chat about school and work, you two boys and our Christmas holidays. Without your knowing it you’ve yet again given us a gift, and this Sunday morning sacrament cloaks us in monastic calm.
In each game, you’ve bowled either twelve or eighteen deliveries with tremendous success. And having flipped the ball from one hand to the other with that instinctive confidence, that emerging ease with the red leather, you now clasp it in your fingers and palm, and pick out a point on the pitch.
Here we go.
Turning towards the batsman, your run-up begins, and Mum and I concentrate all our love onto you. Our hope and our pride are funnelled to the demanding biomechanics of what you’ll do in the next seconds. The expectation makes me squirm and spasm. It’s anguish and delight. What will happen? C’mon, Alex!
From beyond the boundary we gaze at you, leaning forward as you accelerate, and your long frame foreshadows the fast bowler’s menace. I remember someone saying, “Until they hit their delivery stride all fast bowlers are athletes.” How true this is! All at once I can see you in this moment, but also the wide-eyed boy you were and the remarkable man who’s coming too quickly.
Other boys display the poise of a collapsing water-buffalo, but there’s a singularity in your action, especially for a nine-year old. In cricket, as in so much of life, the best techniques are often those with an elegant simplicity; a marriage of aesthetics to mechanical minimalism. The ultimate example of this is Glen McGrath although your blonde hair is more Nick Riewoldt than Brett Lee!
Your Mum and I have long invested in cricket, and subscribed to its broad community, its teachings and its charismatic company. It speaks to us as it preaches to your grandparents, and we love how you also hear its sweet call.
Now coiled in your delivery stride, you release the Kookaburra at impressive pace and it travels the twenty-two yards to its fate. This crimson orb carries our aspirations. You’re making your way in the world, by cultivating your skills, making connections and embracing the offers and the challenges that fly in your direction.
Congratulations, for you’re a cricketer, as well as a loyal friend, a protective brother and a gorgeous son. It’s early in the innings, but it’s begun brightly.
Mum and Dad