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#AskTGC... A Hollow Victory

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

An aggressively mediocre alleged all-rounder in my youth, I quit the game cold-turkey in my 20's out of apathy and an impending relocation to New York City. Many happy years later I migrated to Canada, settling in my wife's home town of Victoria, BC. Knowing nobody and working from home, against my better judgment I relapsed and joined a local cricket team in a desperate bid to meet some people, ignorant of the impact this decision would have on my psychological well-being. I downplayed my skill-level as much as possible, however given my thick Australian accent and the fact I was toting a reasonably new Kookaburra bat, expectations in this small Canadian town were sky-high.

Suffice to say I subsequently and inevitably disappointed everyone involved. So much so, that I changed clubs at the end of my first season after playing 8 matches, making a paltry 96 runs at an average of 13.71 and taking 4 wickets at an average of a touch over 26. Changing clubs has definitely improved things, albeit marginally, but I often wonder why I persist with this activity that provides me with nothing but constant disappointment. Heightened by the fact that I should be better than everyone, yet internally hating myself and knowing that I'm living a lie, my 37 year old body is on the verge of breaking down simply to prove my as-yet-unrealized potential to a group of blokes who don't know any better and care even less.

The most recent culmination of these feelings was a match played on a dreary and rain-interrupted afternoon, pitting us against the last-placed team in the competition. Asked to open the bowling for the first time since at least 2 of my current teammates were still in the womb, I cheerfully obliged. Coming in off the long run I had their opening batsman in all sorts. My confidence was buoyed - "You've still got it!" I triumphantly thought to myself. Despite taking no wickets and dropping a regulation caught-and-bowled chance, I felt good. I was later informed that he normally bats 11, averages 6.00 and sure enough, his 25 runs against us was the highest score he'd made in well over a decade.

I fucking hate cricket.

Eventually all out for 221, with some extra players arriving during their innings, it was our turn to bat. Our opener, who hadn't played a game all season, crushed the ball to all corners of the ground, making three figures before running himself out. He made it look effortless. During this time the bowling could generously be described as "village", with extras providing a healthy 31 runs towards our chase. Given their 11th bloke was still MIA, they were relying on the 10-year-old daughter of one of their cohort to substitute field. To say that she set the standard would be an understatement - not a single catch was taken during our entire innings. Coming in at number 4 I was able to help our other opener carry the bat, and the team cruise to victory with 8 wickets in hand, scoring a typically scratchy 6* in the process. Despite hitting the winning runs, the victory could at best be described as hollow. Why did I give up yet another Saturday to this overwhelmingly demoralizing activity? Why despite decades more training and practice than most of these cricketing jesters am I unable to assert my dominance over them? Why would anyone derive any sort of satisfaction from such a lopsided victory? In short, why?

My questions to you now that I've accomplished my objective of making new friends in my 30's and jeopardized my marriage in the process:

1. Why can't I quit this activity that has provided me with nothing but decades of disappointment interspersed with a few moments of mild satisfaction?

2. Why do I relentlessly seek to validate myself against the unrealistically lofty expectations grounded in my cultural heritage and upbringing?

3. How can I quit cricket cold-turkey again and break free of this addiction/relapse cycle once and for all?

If this confused you, go here to learn more.

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