Taking the field together

cricket gameAs I stand in the garden, goalkeeper and guardian to two football mad boys, I often think forward to a time when the brothers can play alongside each other. I imagine a one-two that cuts through a defence, or some other combination of their different strengths.

They have, of course, played together in ad hoc, occasional matches. There was the Euro-holiday game that could have ended grimly for no.2 son. And, three years ago, at home for once for New Year, we were invited to play a dads v lads game in our local park. We left home with no.2 son sobbing – his brother had told him he was too young and couldn’t play. Good sense – or not – prevailed and both boys lined up. The ground was frosty and the cold felt by all. No.2 son had cheered up. One of the dads, forced into defence, unsteady on the slippery ground, took a swing and sliced a ball hard straight into no.2 son’s face. He was knocked off his feet, but the tears that flowed when told earlier that he couldn’t play didn’t reappear. With jutting chin and stinging face, he played on.

Junior football operates strict age group delineation. So my two boys, five school years apart, won’t get to play together in competitive fixtures for maybe ten years. I can wait and will continue to imagine how they may play together – exchanging passes, creating chances, celebrating each other’s success.

Then, all of a sudden, this summer, it has happened. Two of my children have taken the field together, in partnership. It wasn’t the game I had so often watched two of my children compete and combine at. The pairing wasn’t even the one I had often conjured with.

It was no.2 son and his sister (the 1&onlyD), representing our cricket club’s under 9 team – the Squirrels.

Several weeks before the cricket season started, the club ran indoor practice sessions for its girls squad. Knowing that numbers would be low, I mentioned to the 1&onlyD that she might want to try out cricket. She surprised me and agreed. She surprised me again and enjoyed herself and continued to go to practices when they moved outside.

Junior cricket has hit on an excellent way of encouraging girl cricketers, which doesn’t rely on clubs finding a whole team of players in the same age group (which continues to be tricky). Girls are allowed to play for boys teams two age groups younger than their own. It was through that dispensation that the 1&onlyD made her competitive cricket debut alongside her younger brother.

The Squirrels Coach was alert to the importance of the situation. He invited the 1&onlyD to captain the side – taking part in the ceremonial coin toss – and when the Squirrels were invited to bat first, he selected the siblings as the opening pair. And that’s them in the middle distance in the photo at the top of the page (my daughter’s leggings and pink Converse are easier to admire below).

E bowlerThey returned to the boundary, smiling, having run some singles hard and shown solid batting technique. Later, in the field, they took their turn at bowling. No.2 son, more self-confident, bustled about and completed four run outs. The 1&onlyD stuck to her fielding position, stopping and returning the ball, and when the action dulled, turned a few cartwheels.

That this minor milestone in my children’s sporting lives (and my spectating existence) should have been shared by the younger two of the three, now feels fitting. They have been playmates and conspirators since infancy, inventing games and immersed in each other’s company. Neither has put age and gender difference up as a barrier, at home or, more notably, at school. It’s a very special relationship, albeit one that I’m reconciled to seeing change and maybe become less intense, as their interests diverge. On this evening, brother-sister, teammates, opening partners, continued their happy kinship, taking the field together.

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9 Comments

Filed under social animals, sport gives us..

9 responses to “Taking the field together

  1. That’s so cool that they played against each other and had such a good time! Great to read a club encouraging girls cricket. I have to say I’m not really a fan of watching cricket but always thought it would be fun to play! #PoCoLo

  2. What a fantastic idea to let girls and boys play together in this way – and how brilliant that you get to see two of your kids on the same team. We have one girl on our under 10s football team and there are a couple of girls who join the rugby and cricket teams at school and, I hate to say it, they’re not as good as the boys. They’re just as fast, but there’s something missing. Playing down an age group or two would really even up the playing field.
    One of my favourite sporting memories is when my two boys played rugby together for the school – my eldest in year 6 and my younger son in year 3. Even then, my younger son was the third best on the team! I know this is probably the only time I will ever see them on the same team for anything.

  3. What a truly lovely post and, as Sarah says, great that boys and girls are able to play together. You must have been a very proud dad and rightly so :). Thank you for linking to PoCoLo 🙂

  4. A great post and lovely to hear that your daughter was able to participate in the cricket team – what an achievement. It’s so good for children to get involved in a sport and even better when they are sharing it with their siblings. Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

  5. Nick Boyle

    I can only re-iterate what others have said – a great post; leaving us with a smile on our faces! Must have been lovely to see both kids on the same team!

  6. What a great post. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to play sports. So awesome they got to play together. That’s great. Good memories being made together. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  7. Caroline (Becoming a SAHM)

    This is lovely, so great that they could be involved in it together! 🙂 xx #ipotlinky

    • It must be one of those moments of really pride watching your children compete on the same team. I hope my children play tennis mixed doubles at some point. One of the things I like about tennis is that boys and girls can train and practice together.

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