Above, a cricket match is played at Millom, where the Duddon finds the sea.
At Brian Carpenter’s very fine A Different Shade of Green there is a stunning photograph of a cricket match being played at the Oval overlooked by the famous gasholder.
He writes of Tom Shaw’s photograph that ‘the quality of the light, the fact that the gasholder is so perfectly framed and the precise moment that’s captured make it one of the best cricket pictures of all time.’
One of the joys of playing consistently at one ground, especially one that has a significant natural or manmade feature dominating the view is the way that the landscape is taken into the mind and becomes an unconscious orientation of all that takes place there.
Worcester and Taunton have their ecclesiastic landmarks, as of course does Muggleton below.
Sedbergh has its sublime fells. Arundel its castle peeking through the trees. And those who play their cricket in sight of Glastonbury have the Tor.
On the playing field these features are soon lost from view in the focus of concentration, but they are always there and exert their special subconscious, peripheral influence.
Good batsmen and good fielders have a developed sense of angles, of positions, of distance and depth of field. They may even be better than most at parking cars, though this seldom extends to packing cricket bags which are always too small for the essential equipment favoured by the cricketer.
Running at pace, watching the ball like a hawk, the fielder swoops, finds the ball in their hands turns towards one of the two wickets, sets himself and hurls the ball to throw down the stump.
Watching a ball leave the hand at 80 miles an hour or more the batsman does not need to look away to the gap in the field before aiming the shot with unerring precision. His eye watches bowler’s body, his hand and then the predicted pitching point yet he can see with some internalized sense the spot through the field that he’s aiming for.
Even lanky uncoordinated bowlers who walk out to the middle like Bambi on ice are able to run in at pace for thirty yards and place their landing foot to within a centimetre of the spot it needs to find behind the bowling crease. They don’t look at that spot.
If they did the whole action would disintegrate. They use countless visual clues and co-ordinates, again internalised.
Like a bee returning to the hive, cricketers have a special knowledge in their heads which is most pronounced when playing at home. And knowledge is a product of learning.