It All Adds Up In The End

When my son was in primary school I was coach of his cricket team. There were two fathers prepared to do it, the other guy was a detective. These boys had the Rector from the local church and a copper as coaches. The combination gave great opportunity to those with a sense of humour.

But one of the funniest things was the boy’s reaction to my inability to count up to six. I can do it for most things, like quietly putting six cans of baked beans into the shopping trolley to ‘help’ my wife when she’s shopping. Put six sheep in front of me and I’m OK with that. Or six anythings that need counting. But get me to stand as umpire in a cricket game and count six balls to the over and my dyslexic brain can’t do it.

“Use the clicker, Mr Miller”, the boys would say.

“I am using it. But I forget if I’ve clicked it for each ball or not.”

The trouble with the clicker was that I could forget as fast as I clicked. After all, I was checking the bowler’s foot to make sure he didn’t cross the bowler’s crease. I was keeping my eye on the stumps and the batsman’s pads to see if he was bowled out. I was checking those two boys out there who seemed to have drifted from their fielding positions and into a conversation about girls instead of keeping their attention on the game. I was probably thinking of whether I’d put six cans of baked beans in the trolley or only five. Who knows what my brain was doing apart from trying to keep count?

Then there was the score sheet. If you have never seen a cricket score sheet I suggest you do a bit of googling. But be warned, you will need a PhD in mathematics or process engineering or cosmic hyperology in order to understand it. There are little boxes littered all over the page and every box is crying out for a number. “Fill me, fill me,” they cry like puppies in a pet shop window.

The boys were not allowed to fill in the score sheet. That had to be done by the umpire. After all, there’s an accountability issue here that we took very seriously in the cricket comp in that town. Only an adult could be trusted with all those boxes and all those numbers. Even an adult with the number crunching ability of a cricket bat.

We got through it. The boys would stand in a circle behind me.”Put a 2 in that box, Mr Miller!” they would yell. “Put a 1 in that box! Put a 6 in that box!” I liked those sixes, it meant that the boys were having a great game. Schoolboy cricket is made up of sixes. Sixes hit, sixes missed or sixes imagined. Six is the magic number to a boy in a cricket hat.

The result of that clicker and all those boxes was that we had some fun playing cricket. We won about as many games as we lost. The boys had somebody who cared what they were doing on Thursday morning before school and Saturday morning on the pitch. And I found new ways of trying to explain to a bunch of growing boys why adults are not quite as functional as they think we should be.

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