Point to Fine Leg

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When Does a Loss Feel Like a Win?

I think today might be that day. I’ve just got home from netball where The Milkshakers lost 20 points to 18 against Sospan.

Sure, having two spectacular wins in Division 3 felt great but then as I mentioned in my previous blog, we were promoted to Division 2 – quite scary territory for a new team just starting out together. Last Sunday, we were down to just four of our original players and had to borrow a few. Our first experience of Division 2 was a 33-11 loss. As someone who, and please feel free to ask my friends to qualify this, is a notoriously bad loser, it was a hard pill to swallow. I tend to get pretty riled up when things don’t go my way and then frustrated thoughts creep into my head, distracting me from the game I should be concentrating on 100%. To say I was annoyed at myself following that game would be an understatement. But hay, at least I’m self-aware, right?

This week, we were down to five originals and had to borrow two new ladies to fill in for us in positions they were not used to. Sospan have a reputation for being an excellent team so you can imagine the nervousness working its way through our girls before the starting whistle. They’re also a Llanelli team and me being a Swansea girl through and through, I really wanted the win. But something strange happened…

For the first three quarters of the match, we were always three points behind them. Playing catch up for so long in any sport can make you feel even more of an underdog than you felt at the start. But strangely enough, we found ourselves ahead going into the fourth quarter – a familiar feeling from our Division 3 days. Naturally, you start to believe you can win. You tell yourselves and each other to play your hearts out and go for the win. Unfortunately, that’s usually the point where the other team says the same thing and fair play to Sospan, they didn’t like the lead being taken away from them and swiftly snatched it back from our ‘underdoggy’ paws.

The final whistle blew and we found ourselves losing our second game in a row in Division 2, 20-18. I could feel the competitive streak inside me chomping at my confidence, making me question whether I gave enough to my team – the usual feeling after any team loss. However, that feeling didn’t follow me off court. It was quickly dispelled by the truth of the matter, which was that we came close to beating a fantastic team with a strong reputation. I looked around at my girls and could see they felt the same way. For some reason, we lost the game, but we also won. As a team we showed strength and character to hang in there and even very nearly clinch the victory. Wanting to save our reputation after such a beating last week, coupled with wanting to make our absent team mates proud, we walked away with our heads held high. We had a new knowledge, that when we had our entire team back together, we could cause some serious damage in this division, and there is no better feeling.

Good team work has never been a strong point of mine. I’m getting better at is as I get older as I’m able to see the benefits more (an ability I lacked in my twenties!). I’ve learned that putting your own personal gains aside and playing for the people around you, can make you play even better because you want it more.

After the game, I sent the girls this meme I found on the net:

 

In conclusion, I guess what I’m trying to say is to take positives from everything you do in life. You’re not going to win or be the best EVERY time, and that’s OK.

Next week The Milkshakers will be competing in the Christmas Mixed Tournament so two hours of crazy netball awaits. The great news is we should have all our players back, including some lads who I doubt know a lot about what they’re letting themselves in for! So wish us luck and think of us Sunday, 6th December 4pm – 6pm. The new Stacey will be saying ‘just have fun and do your best’ and the other Stacey, who let’s face it, will always be there under the surface will be saying:

“Come on Milkshakers, let’s go for the win bois bach!”

 

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Zombies Stop Play Pt 8

Friday, 13th June 2014


19:30, Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

“Mate, what the hell is that?!” Asked Sammy, looking rather unnerved.

“I’m really am sorry mate, you’re gonna turn. You’re gonna become… one of them!” Answered Jackson, already filled with regret from what he was doing. Beads of sweat started to pour down Sammy’s head as he faced the person that was ready to end his life with a flick of a finger.

“I don’t understand, how can you even know that? I feel fine!”

“He was in the toilet when you told everyone about the blue-eye rule, Jackson. He doesn’t know. Maybe you were wrong?” Suggested Mossy, putting his hand on the gun barrel and attempting to lower it. Jackson was too strong for Mossy, and the gun didn’t budge. It was still aimed directly between the Aussie’s bright blue eyes. The rest of the team didn’t quite know what to say or what to do. They trusted Jackson, with their lives, and weren’t about to argue with him over something he seemed to know more about than they did.

“Sammy, close your eyes.” Said Jackson quietly. Sammy quickly reached for his bat and picked it up. He looked ready to attack Jackson.

“I’m not gonna let you do this!” Shouted Mossy next to him. “If he turns, then fine, paint the walls with his baggy green brains but until then, I can’t let you pull that trigger!”

“Don’t you see?” Shouted Jackson back at his best friend, turning his head to look at him. “I’m doing this for us. If he turns, he’ll kill us. I shoot him now and we have a chance!” In that moment, Sammy swung his bat hard at the gun. The shock made Jackson pull the trigger, and the bullet flew straight through Mossy’s shoulder. Jackson dropped the gun as Mossy fell to the floor, pushing down on the wound tightly with his hand.

“Shit Moss I’m so sorry!” Jackson pulled his T-shirt off and wrapped it round the wound, tying it hard to control the bleeding. The wound was deep but thankfully not fatal. Bridgey picked up the gun in anger.

“From now on, I’m the only one who uses this gun!” Jackson felt awful. Considering the current, apparent apocalypse and the fact that his best friend had just shot him in his batting shoulder, Mossy was in reasonably good spirits.

“I guess I really am like Inspector Riggs in Lethal Weapon now, eh Jacks?” Jackson smiled. Before he could respond however, Sammy’s ‘change’ had already begun. He doubled over in searing pain with one hand holding him up and the other hand tightly gripping his hair.

“Jacks, I think we’ve got a problem, boi!” Shouted Obvious-Lee, pointing at Sammy who was now kneeling silently, staring at the floor.

“Has he changed?” Asked Milo. Picking up a cricket ball from the bench behind him. Sammy slowly lifted his head, with glowing red eyes staring straight at Jackson.

“Nevermind!” Screamed Milo, launching the ball at Sammy’s head. Unfortunately, the ball flew straight past him into the wall behind.

“You never could hit the stumps!” Shouted an injured Mossy from the floor. Sammy leapt up from the floor, and pounced at Jackson. Jackson gripped his neck as tightly as he could so he wouldn’t be able to bite. Sammy was strong however, in his new, undead form and his head got closer and closer to Jackson’s neck. Milo realised that he now needed to step up for his brother. He picked up his bat and took the biggest swing at Sammy’s shoulders, sending him flying out of Jackson’s grip and into the changing room door.

“Shoot hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim!” Yelled Jackson, backing away on all fours.” In that moment, Bridgey lifted his gun and shot a bullet straight between Sammy’s eyes, killing whatever he had become.

The group sat silently, staring at their former team mate. The scene flashing through their minds as if they were watching a replay. Jackson decided that the silence needed to be broken.

“That’s it, I’m getting out of here!”

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Move Over Y Chromosome!

Me at the cricket 3 years ago, ON MY OWN!

Me at the cricket 3 years ago, ON MY OWN!

Three years ago I wrote a book – a book that was aimed at women, introducing them to cricket. My motivation? To get more girls into the sport. Not necessarily playing it, but watching, enjoying and actually understanding it.

Last night I attended the Glamorgan v Surrey T20 match at the Swalec Stadium, Cardiff. For the first time, in the nine years I have been a cricket fan, my cricket buddy Abby and I were not alone. At one point I actually had to queue for the ladies, in a place that is unique in the fact that the women’s toilets are historically more underused than the men’s. It was a great feeling seeing so many women my age watching cricket.

I remember when it was often just Abby and I sitting in the ground under the age of 50, CWAGS (crickets WAGS) aside, chatting to the elderly men who took us in as one of their own. It’s can be scary being the minority, especially in an environment such as the cricket, watching a sport that is often said to be extremely male dominated.

Watch the IPL and notice the ground filled with both sexes. In fact some teams are even owned by women in India. I appreciate we’re still so far from that but I definitely saw from last night’s experience that we’re certainly on our way.

I was lucky enough to be a guest on the BBC Radio show ‘Good Evening Wales’ with Gareth Lewis before the match to talk about my cricket eBook, my blog and how we are going to get more women to the cricket. I talked about grounds thinking more about what women enjoy on a night out, such as having themed nights, encouraging them to dress up before going out etc. but the more I think about it, the more I realised I should have mentioned the part that the men have to play. Not the on-field cricketers, but the boyfriends, the husbands, the fathers and the brothers. I didn’t start watching cricket because I woke up one day and decided I wanted to learn about the world’s most intricate sport. It was my father, calling me into his conservatory to watch the end of the 2005 Ashes Edgbaston test. From then on I was hooked. All it takes is one game and a bit of understanding, and that’s what motivated me to do for other girls of my generation what my father did for me.

Men – you have to step up. If you want your lady to appreciate the fact that you like to stand around in a field for hours on end on a Saturday afternoon whilst a red leather ball comes flying at your face every now and again, make some effort. Teach her a different rule every week, ease her in by taking her to a T20 once in a while, or encourage her to start her Friday night out with the girls at a short but exciting cricket match drinking Pimms. I had my cricket epiphany (crickiphany), so can she!

County Cricket Grounds – Be a little flexible with your prices now and again. Unless you’re a member, cricket tickets can be expensive and extremely off-putting for those on the fence about the game. I’m not saying women’s tickets should be cheaper, that’s sexist. I’m merely suggesting you give some free tickets to your members to share out with their friends – a ‘try before you buy’ approach. I know this has been done by grounds in the past but I don’t see it enough. A great example of clever marketing would be what Glamorgan CCC have done this year – a £50 one-off payment to attend all of the home T20 matches. The short form of the game is a great place for new fans to begin. It’s only 3 hours long, fast-paced, full of atmosphere and 99.9% of the time there is a result.

Eventually, you won’t need gimmicks to attend. The cricket itself will stand alone and attract both genders equally, I really believe it will happen some day. Compared to 3 years ago, I am seeing more and more women at the cricket and it’s so refreshing. I’m not sure whether it’s the weather, the current good form of my team or the lure that some of the more handsome cricketers have over the young girls but it’s great to see women breaking into a male-dominated sport.

I haven’t given up on my dream of working in the sport media world. I believe my subject knowledge and often crazy, girly view on cricket would make for a fascinating radio show. I have done some cricket commentary before on various radio and internet stations – it’s usually quite funny listening to me attempting to soften my Swansea accent so people can understand me – and I have absolutely loved it. Male commentators aren’t always easy-listening for women who are trying to learn the sport – I’ve been told this by many a woman. I honestly believe I’d be able to fix that problem and will work hard to be given that chance. Us women are complex characters but once you understand what makes us tick, we’re not that hard to please. When I think about my favourite TV shows or movies, it’s not necessarily the story that attracts me, it’s the characters and it’s the same with sport. Once you know the personality of the cricketer, you can’t help rooting for them. I’d love to see them doing more personal interviews. I’m not talking explicit love-life details, just what makes them tick. It makes them more human and relatable. I, like many women, am pretty nosy. There’s a reason there are so many gossip magazines out there – we like to know everybody’s business!

Cricketers – you need to be in the limelight more. You’d become more of an interest so people are not just supporting the sport, they’re supporting the player. Yes, it’s putting yourself out there a little bit more, but think of it as your contribution to marketing a brilliant game. Your fans would appreciate it and you never know, you may just find your ground a little fuller next year. (See Freddie Flintoff).

I might be a bit of a ‘cricket geek’ but in my mind I’m the best of both worlds. I also love shopping, doing my nails and going for cocktails with the girls. My aim is to show other girls like me how fun getting into cricket can actually be, and I won’t stop until every country appreciates it like the sub-continent. They get it right, but so can we.

I’ll get there one day.

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Zombies Stop Play Pt 7

Friday, 13th June 2014

19:00, Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

“Who the hell is that?” Asked Milo?
“I think it’s the coach!” Answered Westie. “He left to do a quick interview and never came back.” The boys looked at each other, unsure about what to do. Coach Hagman had coached Essex for 7 years and was popular with his team. “We can’t leave him out there. O’Toole, let him in!”

Jackson snatched the gun from Bridgey’s hand and fired a shot through the wall next to the door just as O’Toole was about to open it, stopping him in his tracks. Westie grabbed the gun off Jackson and threw it to the floor in anger.

“What the hell are you doing?!!” Yelled Westie. Jackson pushed Westie against the wall.
“I’m saving our lives!”
“That’s our Coach out there!” Replied Westie, pushing Jackson back whilst trying not to fall off his crutches. Mossy and Milo quickly intervened and pulled the boys apart. Even in what looked like to be the onset of the end of the world, the rivals were still fighting.

“Quick! Open the bloody door!” Coach Hagman’s deep, loud Northern English voice was so loud it filled the changing room. O’Toole ignored the fighting and opened the door. Coach Hagman slipped through, slamming and locking it behind him. Before he could say anything, loud groans and angry cries followed by bangs on the door echoed around the room. Jackson ran over to the Coach, pinning him against the wall.

“What are you doing, lad?!” Coach Hagman tried to brush Jackson’s hands off but he was too strong. There was a reason this guy has a T20 strike rate of 240.00. Jackson looked into the Coach’s deep brown, saucer-like eyes.

“I’m checking to see if you’re gonna turn. Red eyes mean you’re one of them and blue eyes mean that you’ve gonna become one.” Jackson took his hands off the coach and walked back towards the balcony. “We need to all go back into our changing room and lock the balcony doors. Those guys outside know we’re in here but I’m pretty sure they think the home changing rooms are empty.”

“You want us all to barricade ourselves in?” Asked Westie.
“No, just some of us.” The boys looked nervously at each other.
“What do you mean, Jackson?” Asked Milo, putting his hand on his brother’s shoulder.
“There are people out there.” Said Jackson quietly. “People who need our help. They’ve come here for an evening with family and friends to support us. I can’t stand by while they get eaten by those things. We have weapons here – a shotgun, loads of bats… it’s time to do what’s right. But first, we reconvene next door.”

The boys followed Jackson to the home changing room and were greeted by a nervous Obvious-Lee.
“So what’s the story boys? We got company or wha?”
Jackson spent the next 20 minutes updating his team mates on what had happened on the balcony and in the Essex changing room. He then asked or volunteers to go with him to save who they could, but they were not as forthcoming as he thought they’d be.

“I like, literally can’t believe what you’re asking Jacks!” Shouted Lee, who hadn’t put his bat down for 3 hours. “While you were next door with Ant and Dec by ‘ere, we were watching people’s ‘eads getting ripped of their shoulders mun! Essex boys running round the crease like they were making a bloody Thriller video! We do NOT wanna go out there!” The boys, including the remaining three from the Essex camp all agreed with Lee. All except Mossy.

“I actually can’t believe you guys. You want to just hide up here until it all goes away?” Asked Mossy, striding round the room. “Haven’t you seen Zombie movies? We don’t win. Humans never win. We’re not going to get rescued if we stay here. If we’re lucky they’ll destroy the place, taking us with it. Don’t you at least want to try while we’ve still got a chance?”

Sam Kingston, Glamorgan’s oversees Australian quick strolled out of the toilet during Mossy’s speech. Jackson stared him down, realising he was the only one left in the room who’s eyes he hadn’t checked. As he sat down on the bench, his team mates caught sight of his face and slowly moved further down the benches.

“What have I missed?” Asked Sammy innocently. Jackson, this time slowly and politely, took Bridgey’s shotgun out of his hands and aimed it at his bowler who look confused and terrified down the barrel of the gun.

“I’m sorry Sammy, I’m so sorry…”

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Zombies Stop Play Pt 6

Friday, 13th June 2014

18:30, Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

The three Glamorgan players struggled to shut the door. The force from the other side was stronger than them, and the door started opening more and more.
“There’s more than one!” Shouted Jackson. “Bridgey, fire a shot at them. They’re too strong!” Bridgey ran over as quickly as he could, but in his rush to get there, slipped in a pool of blood, seeping from the Essex bowling coach’s head. As he fell to the floor, the gun went off, firing a hole right through the wood of the door and narrowly missing Mossy’s head. Luckily, it turned out to be the money shot and the resistance stopped. Jackson, Mossy and Milo were finally able to shut and lock the door. The banging had stopped from the other side.

“You must have hit it!” Said Westie, grabbing his crutches to steady himself.
“No shit Sherlock!” Answered Jackson sarcastically.
“Well it’s official. We’re trapped in the changing rooms.” Said Milo sitting on the bench. “There’s no way out. Of course we could always open the changing room doors and run to the car park, but what good would it do? I sure don’t fancy my chances! Of course we could always fashion a rope out of spare cricket kit and escape over the pitch, but what good would it do? I don’t fancy those chances either!”

The boys took some time to sit down and have a reality check. As bleak as Milo’s outlook was, it was realistic. Jackson however was never one to give up. In a cricket match he’d fight, even if the team were 98-9 chasing 207 (like they were the week before) he’d fight until the very end. Losing without trying was just not in his nature. This was mainly the reason why he was so well-respected by his team.

“So, many of your guys alive over there?” Asked O’Toole. “As you can see, there’s only two of us!
“Not many of us.” Replied Jackson, clearly upset with the situation they’d found themselves in. “These bastards have killed too many of us.”
“We even had to kill our coach!” Interuppted Milo. “It’s so surreal!”
“What I really want to know though, is how did it start?” Asked Bridgey. ‘We were watching the start of the match from the balcony and it seemed to start with your guy Carter! He bowled an over and then all of a sudden, he turned. Did you guys bring this with you all the way from Essex?”
Westie laughed. “Yes, we thought, ‘I know, let’s go and infect the Welsh!’ Don’t be so bloody stupid!” Westie was getting defensive. I was watching from the balcony too you know. Yes, Carter was the first one to change on the field but it was happening in the crowd as well, without him biting any of them. It must be random.” Jackson didn’t look convinced.
“I don’t believe in random.” He said, getting to his feet and looking in the mirror. “Think of the guys on the Glammy team and the Essex team who turned first. What do they all have in common?”
“Some played in the IPL?” Asked Mossy?
“I played in the IPL mate and I’m fine. That’s where I tore my calf muscle.”
“So it’s not that. Did they tour anywhere else? Maybe come back from an infected country?”
“I know for a fact that Carter hasn’t been abroad this year.” Answered O’Toole. “He was meant to be getting married this summer so was planning the wedding with his wife – I was gonna be his best man.” Jackson continued to stare at himself in the mirror as the others sat around trying to come up with reasons for what was now being referred to as a ‘Zombie Apocalypse.’ …and then it came to him…

“Eyes.” Said Jackson quietly.

“What d’you say?” Asked Mossy. Jackson turned to his friend.
“My eyes are brown. Your eyes are brown. So are Milo’s and Bridgey’s. Westie, O’Toole, are your eyes brown?” The two Essex batsmen nodded. “Then that could be it. We need to all go back into the other changing room to check the other boys.If I remember correctly, one of our guys who turned had blue eyes.”
The boys were just about to head out onto the balcony when they heard a cry from the other side of the door, coming through the hole left by Bridgey’s accidental gun shot.

“Let me in! Quick! They’re coming! THEY’RE ALL COMING!”

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