Mindful or a mind full of stress? This is the choice facing cricket parents as the season approaches. The forthcoming stress can be physical (repetitive strain from 10000 throw downs), financial (the cost of the latest bat – worth more than the economy of an emerging Test nation) and mental (anxiety about whether the latest bat will last longer than the old one – a victim of an LBW-related collision with changing room wall).
Prior to commencement of their child’s innings or bowling spell, the mindful cricket parent (hereafter MCP) commandeers a viewing position which offers “The Core Four”: camouflage, escape route, calming space and WIFI signal.
Cowering in their obscured spot, the MCP activates stage 1 of mindful spectating: “Playing yourself in” with a mantra. Negative thoughts, highlighted here in bold, are padded away: “Feeling tranquil… Bugger, that fast bowler’s here; I thought she was injured… Breathe deeply…Her bloody dad’s here too … Enjoy the moment …I wonder if he’ll manage 30 seconds before mentioning her scholarship … and breathe out.
Stage 1 is often the final stage. If so, MCPs require the escape route for a calming stroll, but if their child nurdles into double figures, or is thrown the ball for a third over, it’s time for Stage 2: “Starting to play your mindfulness shots”. The WIFI is handy here. The MCP mindfully tunes into 6 music, or perhaps TMS. A nonchalant demeanour – seemingly not having a care in the Weald – is key. The MCP feels grateful for the shade of the tree, the magnificence of its branches and the cover it provides against social contact in any form, especially scholarship-related.
Stage 3 is “the lap”. This Stage should not be attempted without accredited training. The ECB offers a Stage Three Diploma through online modules. The Stage commences when the MCP’s child is starting to do well. Standing up, the MCP emerges, anti-clockwise, from their isolation – mooching, strolling, exuding greetings and positive body language. It’s just not cricket to gloat. Dignity must be kept. Even if their daughter has just reverse-swept “The Scholarship” for 4.
“Core-4 Ratings” vary between grounds. My home ground – The Salts, Seaford, offers excellent camouflage – a café; escape route (a bolt for the beach); but falls down on WIFI and a calming space. My karma just can’t cope with the language or herbal odours wafting across from the skate park.
A mindfulness-friendly ground is Burpham, which excels across the Core 4: concealment under veteran trees – with views across the River Arun and its water meadows; WIFI signal from posh houses (code t0rystr0ngh0ld); reflective spaces to wonder that W.G. Grace once batted here; and the best-ever escape route – to The George: the adjacent boozer.
Returning to the boundary with a third pint of Harveys, MCPs laugh hysterically as their daughter is bowled or gets belted for six. Back- slapping the fast bowler’s father, they ask how the scholarship is going and exchange banter: “It could be worse, mate – we could be at an all-day Dance show. How’s Audrey?”
So, be mindful that cricket parenting without beer is way too stressful. Best head straight for the pub.