Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cricket dreams

Last night I dreamed about cricket. And interestingly enough, this was a classic anxiety dream. In this case, I became stuck in a loop, replaying variations on the same theme again and again: a batsman would play a stroke, the ball would come to my position in the field, and I would desperately try and make a clean stop and accurate throw. All the latent elements of fielding anxiety came to the fore: Would I misfield? Would I be able to prevent a second run or would the batsmen show me up? Would I throw accurately?

I can remember two plays from this dream. In one case, the ball got past me, I run for it, slip (another embarrassing feature of my fielding in recent years), pick up and then when I throw, the ball lands a few feet away from the wicketkeeper. On another occasion, interestingly, I throw back reasonably accurately but the keeper has moved and the remaining fielders aren't observing my efforts.

I think one explanation for the latent anxiety about fielding that could have prompted this dreaming episode is that fielding, more than any other aspect of my playing, is the domain where I've come to experience the most acute physical struggle in cricket. A stiff back means that bending and diving aren't easy; an often painful right shoulder means that throwing isn't the most comfortable of acts. And I think my history of failing to make runouts when there is a tight one to be made (by failing to get in a hard, tight, accurate throw) wears heavily on me. (I think I've only made one runout in my life - in a park game, when a batsman tapped the ball to me at cover and took off - I ran the non-striker out with a direct throw as he desperately tried to make his ground).

But I'm not complaining about the presence of this dreaming activity. Its vividness meant that if nothing else, for a few moments, I was back on a cricket field, dealing with ball and bat, with other cricketers. And who could really, really complain about that?

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