Sanitising sport can often take the fun out of a game
So, basically – as my youngest likes to begin every sentence these days – the longest school holiday in the history of, well, skool is about to come to an end and, quite frankly, next week’s socially distanced drop-off cannot come a moment too soon.
Let us hope that the only U-turn on this is the one I will be making in the school car park when, if I have my way, the vehicle will still be moving as I chuck them out, so far gone are the cosy feelings of family togetherness at the start of lockdown.
One can see how, on a larger scale, civil wars are more common than those between next-door nations. We have now entered the stage when it is like having three Faf de Klerks for offspring, all going out of their way to be annoyingly niggling and provoking someone else to start a fight, not just with their siblings but their parents. At school they can be someone else’s problem for a day.
So what have we learnt during the last 5½ months apart from the fact that if you shut 10 scientists in a government committee room they will come up with 11 different opinions and that Prof Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, is so stoically cautious that were he captain of the nation’s cricket team he would never enforce a follow-on?
Sport, or the remnants of it, remains our family salvation though such is the grip that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has on sport’s ruling bodies one despairs at some of the pointless regulations sports have either accepted or put forward to enable them to get back.
I am thinking of the mandatory wearing of face-masks in the parade ring at the races or what I saw when I dropped in on my son’s first cricket match of the season for his local village in July.
When I arrived the opposition needed three runs to win with nine wickets in hand – a couple of shots, at most, from victory.
But, at the end of the over the fielders were required to leave the pitch to “hand-sanitise”. My children have a single word for that: “Whatthe?”
They gathered in a huddle round the handsanitiser which was passed from man to man. If anyone was going to catch something – his side were certainly not going to catch a cricket ball – that was the moment. They all had a little squirt, rubbed their hands and returned for what was actually only one ball the following over but had carried out their mandatory obligation to hand-sanitise every six overs. Why not every 10, who came up with six? But having lost a summer term of competitive sport, their schools are, at least, attempting some sort of catch-up. All three schools are planning to play cricket, tennis, athletics and summer sports until half-term before switching to rugby or, if full-body contact is out, football and netball. Until then, however, competition will be limited to year groups or house matches rather than interschool. My son’s enthusiasm for cricket, I feel, has waned since the hand-sanitising incident; no self-respecting teenage boy has washed his hands that often in a week let alone inside 30 overs.
But his eyes lit up when he learnt that until mid-October he will be bowling medium-fast at some tail-end wet bobs unsure of how to actually hold a bat in a house match, essentially bowling at rabbits in headlights. So, basically, if that does not rekindle his fire for cricket so dampened by the pandemic, then nothing will.
Clean break: Stopping every few overs to sanitise wears thin