This week a really good thing happened to me and, as with most really good things in life, it had something to do with cricket. It came at me out of the blue and, though it will have gone unnoticed by most and been considered of little significance by the few who were aware of it’s occurrence, it was still enough to put a spring in my step and a smile on my face. It wasn’t able to take away the unhappiness that has, for far too long, been a part of my life but, and here’s the thing, even that circumstance’s pervasive sadness did not lessen the pleasure of the good thing that took place.

And so I was reminded once again of what I have been taught many times before – that happiness and sadness coexist in our lives. We must not wait for every sadness to end before we allow ourselves to be happy nor imagine that we won’t be unhappy simply because there are things that make us smile. Paradoxically, we can be happy and sad at the same time. Life isn’t merely about being happy. We can smile – even as we cry.

Last weekend as Somerset performed disappointingly against Nottinghamshire I was reminded of something else. As wickets at Trent Bridge fell, for me at least, with alarming regularity, I was out walking. As I strolled the countryside surrounding the small Devonian town of Silverton, my route took me through a country churchyard where it was brought home to me that not everyone is fortunate enough to still be able to enjoy the game I have loved watching since I first saw Somerset play in 1977. Furthermore, inside the church itself, as I saw the list of men who had given their lives in two world wars and read of the former vicar who, along with his wife, lost all five of his children before they reached the age of 22, it was all too obvious that many people have far bigger things to worry about than the batting technique of Somerset’s top order.

Cricket then is just a game. A wonderfully enjoyable and thoroughly satisfying game, but a game it none the less remains. And it is meant to be enjoyed as such. Paradoxically, though it matters hugely to me, in many ways cricket doesn’t matter at all. The result at least surely doesn’t. And for this reason it can, and should, be enjoyed even when the outcome is not the one that we would wish for.

For me watching county cricket has long been more enjoyable than watching Test Matches and international games. This is because of the greater connection I have with those players who, without central contracts, turn out regularly for their local team. Though life has a habit of sometimes getting in the way and prevents me from attending as often as I would like, I am fortunate to live within ten miles of Somerset’s home ground and have, therefore, been able to spend many happy days over the years enjoying the view from the boundary at Taunton. I watch wanting, not just the team to do well, but individual players to do well because, as part of Somerset CCC they are people I care about, irrespective of whether they’ve grown up in the club or been adopted by the county from elsewhere. In a way they are like family to me. What they most certainly are not, are employees, contracted merely to make me happy and worthy, therefore, of being discarded the moment they don’t deliver.

Which is why when players underperform I won’t disparage them but rather continue to hope that they will one day come good. As one who wouldn’t make it to the middle without tripping over my batting pads, I’ll leave criticism to those who can offer it both constructively and with compassion. I’ll enjoy celebrating an individual’s success and, when they fail, share a little of the disappointment that they also will undoubtedly be feeling. Too many seem to think that it’s OK to publicly rubbish those who are endeavouring to do their best, forgetting that these are people who, like everyone else, have feelings too. And, what’s more, they are somebody’s child and neither do their parents benefit from having their offspring publicly vilified.

As one who daily experiences the sadness of loving somebody for whom every day is difficult, I know the importance of sticking by those who find themselves struggling. I know how those for whom life is hard need the support of those who are supposed to be on their side. And I know the difference it can make to people if they are ever to come out the other side. Because although cricket is just a game, life is not.

So as in life so too in cricket – happiness and sadness coexist. I will enjoy hundreds by Tom Abell and James Rew and smile as quick runs are scored by tail enders. And when the opposition end the day on 302-1, rather than pouring scorn on the bowlers, I’ll endeavour to enjoy that too.

Because though, perhaps, a little sad, I’m happy that I’m still alive to do so.

Other cricket blogs:

To read ‘A Tale of Two Tons’, click here

To read ‘A Somerset Cricket Players Emporium’, click here

To read ‘A Cricket Taunt’, click here

To read ‘Scooby Doo and the Mystery of the Deseted Cricket Ground’, click here

To read ‘Brian and Stumpy visit The Repair Shop’, click here

To read ‘A Cricketing Christmas Carol’, click here

To read ‘At Season’s End’, click here

To read ‘On passing a village cricket club at dusk one late November afternoon’ click here

To read ‘A Song for Brian’, click here

To read ‘I’ve got a little CRICKET list’, click here

To read ‘My love is not a red, red rose , click here

To read ‘Stumpy – a legend reborn’, click here

To read ‘A Cricket Tea Kind of a Day’, click here

To read ‘A Day at the Cricket’, click here

To read ‘The Great Cricket Sell Off’, click here

To read ‘How the Grinch stole from county cricket…or at least tried to’. click here

To read ‘How Covid-19 stole the the cricket season’, click here

To read ‘Life in the slow lane’, click here

To read ‘Frodo and the Format of Power’, click here

To read ‘If Only’, click here

To read ‘Eve of the RLODC limericks’ click here

To read ‘It’s coming home…’, click here

To read ‘A Song for Ben Green’, click here

To read ‘Enough Said…’, the last section of which is cricket related, click here

A Jack Leach Trilogy:

To read ‘For when we can’t see why’, click here

To read ‘WWJD – What would Jack Do?’, click here

To read ‘On Playing a Blinder’, click here

To read ‘Coping with Disappointment’, click here

And now a couple of cricket blogs with a theological flavour

To read ‘Somerset CCC – Good for the soul’, click here

To read ‘Longing for the pavilion whilst enjoying a good innings’, click here

And finally some related posts that are not to do with cricket:

To read ‘General Practice – still a sweet sorrow’, click here

To read ‘Professor Ian Aird’ – A Time to Die?’, click here

To read ‘I’ll miss this when we’re gone’, click here

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