Christmas is an incredibly busy time for the NSPCC. As a charity that depends overwhelmingly on voluntary donations, we have been helping volunteers engage in a host of Sparkle-related fundraising escapades whilst also being there to answer calls and contacts from children who have nowhere else to turn throughout the holiday period. We run Childline and Christmas is one of our busiest times of the year. Far too many young people experience misery, anxiety or a profound lack of self worth at this time of year and being there to listen and empower them can make all the difference.
But I have managed some time off, and much of it I spent watching Big Bash cricket on the TV from Australia. I’ve supported the Perth Scorchers in the past (a good West Country team) and followed the Melbourne Renegades for their Somerset connections (Cameron White, Tom Cooper, Chris Gayle). This time round it’s been hard not to be rooting* for Sydney Thunder, given the form shown by Wedmore’s finest Mr Buttler. There have been mutterings that the Big Bash is losing its shine just as the Blast seems to be increasing its popularity over here. By expanding the fixture list each game has less riding on it. Crowds are down and the atmosphere seems better at some of the smaller outgrounds than the more soulless City stadia (ECB take note). Batting has looked difficult. Spinners are taking all the wickets and keeping scores down. Could we see Bess, Leach and Waller together as T20 stars this summer? Or would the need to serve up a variety of mystery balls be ruinous to the regular rhythm that makes Jack such a star performer in the longer format of the game? Rashid Khan and Jofra Archer have looked every bit as exciting as when I saw them lose to Somerset at Hove last Summer. And if we can’t get Corey Anderson again, Daniel Sams looks a great prospect.
I’m next down in Taunton for the Annual General Meeting at the end of this month and will offer a few thoughts in the wake of what we hear there. I’m as optimistic as ever that 2019 will be our year. I’m also looking forward to seeing the floodlights take shape. At some point this season, I’m hoping Andrew Cornish will find a way of letting us light up the ground in green to raise funds for the charity.
* see what I did there?