Nine times out of ten, when I post a photo of my scorebook someone asks me why I bother. Whilst it’s not always asked in the most polite of terms, it’s a valid question. I could find all of this information online for far less effort than it takes me to fill in my book, but the easiest answer is that I enjoy it.
Of course, this would be a very short story if that was the end of it.
My story with scoring is intrinsically tied to my larger journey with cricket. I came to cricket later in life than most of us. It’s hard to really remember now, but thinking back, graphics on televised cricket matches are baffling. There are names and numbers all over the place, and sometimes it’s the runs that come first and then the wickets, and sometimes it’s the other way around, bowling and batting averages seem completely incomprehensible, sometimes extras count against the bowler and sometimes they don’t, the list goes on. People kept telling me to just enjoy the game first, and that I’d understand the scoring system in time.
That wasn’t good enough for me, so I set out to teach myself about the great big world of cricketing stats. And I found that the better I came to understand the patterns of the game, the more patterns seemed to unfurl before me. When you’re watching a game, especially a red ball game, you see the changes in play as the day progresses. You can tell when the pace has slowed down, or when a batter has started attacking, but an online scorecard doesn’t really do this story justice. The next logical step would be to look at a scorebook.
And this is where the timeline of my cricketing journey comes in. Like a lot of newer cricket fans, the summer of 2019 was what finally sealed my love for the game. Come September I was locked in; I spent the autumn and winter watching whatever cricket I could find from around the world, and gearing up for the new season in April. And then, well, we all know how the story of English cricket went in 2020.
I found Lockdown hard. Due to a quirk with work, I wasn’t initially allowed into school, so had to teach from home every day. I was at home, trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole, and I was struggling. I’ve had my mental health battles; I’m prone to catastrophising, getting myself caught up in spirals of negative thought. And suddenly there was so much to worry about. I was caught in an endless stream of daily statistics, worrying about my Nan in hospital, my family who I hadn’t seen in weeks, my students who should be sitting GCSEs and A Levels and whose futures were relying on this summers’ exams. My brain was so loud and I didn’t have the usual mundanity of day to day life to shut it off.
I was trying to, of course. I’d started listening to Tailenders from the beginning, and Felix White was talking about scoring. It made sense to give it a go, and when was I next going to have so much empty time to fill? I was gifted a scorebook for my birthday in April and I was clean out of reasons not to.
At that moment in time, it was the best thing I could have done.
The great beauty of scoring is that you have to pay attention. It sounds silly, but that was such a blessing. I was bumbling my way through the process. Armed with a scoring guide from the Cricket Association of Japan and a misplaced sense of determination, I set out to logic my way through scoring. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I’m a logical person, and after a few false starts, I got into the swing of things. Most importantly, while I was scoring I didn’t have the time to think about anything else. I could shut off that part of my brain that kept telling me the worst case scenario, and focus on something that I enjoyed for a few hours.
I looked back through my scorebook while I was writing this and it’s an unholy mess. Those first few games while I settled into a rhythm are all over the place. It’s clear that I didn’t know what I was doing, but it’s also clear that I was getting better. I was working out how I was going to score matches, and I was enjoying it. It’s also such a snapshot of the time. I don’t know if you remember, but there were so many full games on YouTube during that first lockdown. I was scoring all sorts, and it was wonderful.
If you follow my twitter (@Cricketchar), you may already know this, but I’m very partial to a coloured pen when scoring. I like to score each bowler in a different colour because it breaks up the play, and you can pick out different spells. If it’s a white ball game, I also like to match the pens to the kit colours, and I always score in a colour gradient. Does the colour preference add any extra detail to the book? Not a bit, but – and here’s the most important thing that I’m going to say – I enjoy it.
We all love cricket in different ways, and one of the ways that I enjoy it is by scoring. I don’t do it on any kind of professional level, I mostly score at home on my sofa, and I use different coloured pens because I like my book to look pretty. I post pictures of it on twitter because I know that other people also like to look at scorebooks, even though it brings criticism from people who think I’m wasting my time, or people who want to tell me that I’m doing it wrong.
I’ve been on a bit of a journey this year. I’ve taken opportunities that I would previously have passed up for fear of failure. The me of lockdown would never have put some of these pictures online for fear of criticism, but I’ve come to recognise that we’re all on a journey of improvement. I love my silly little scorebook, filled with silly rainbow coloured scorecards. I love the inaccuracies and the inconsistencies. I love the pages with smudges where I spilled my drink and the pages covered in tippex. I love the half finished games where I lost focus or life got in the way. I love that I have the first half of Crawley’s 267 and the second half of Conway’s 200. But mostly, I love that this book tells the story of my journey with cricket and how that journey took me through some of the toughest months of my life. I can’t wait to see where my next book takes me.
We can’t thank Charlotte enough for sharing her story with us. She has an exceptional talent which she will share with us from time to time and we will hopefully get her to score a few games for us. I am sure she will be happy to answer any questions you may have so why not follow her on Twitter @Cricketchar and enjoy more of her coloured pen magic.
Charlotte is an ambassador of the excellent #HERGAMETOO CRICKET representing Hampshire CCC and Southern Vipers
Whilst Charlotte is self taught there are plenty of ECB Courses to help you.