Since I was last featured on the Opening Up Cricket website last September it has undoubtedly been a life changing time for my entire family.

The week before Christmas 2020, I lost my beloved mother Hazel Davies, who introduced me to Cricket in 1991, aged 77 due to Covid and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It was a very quick and sudden passing that went from her accompanying myself and my sister Melanie Beckley to our gym at NumberOneHSP, as she always did rain and shine, to her no longer being physically here just eight days later.

It was rather galling that none of us, especially for Melanie as she had always promised Ma, could be with her when she passed due to Coronavirus restrictions. This was exacerbated in early 2021 with multiple members of Captain Tom Moore’s family able to see his last moments in the hospital in Bedford. I felt for all millions, like ourselves, who couldn’t say goodbye to loved ones but his family could. It seemed that it was “one rule for one” but another for the proletariat.

On the morning of Wednesday 6th January, I gave a Eulogy at Ma’s funeral. In it, I mentioned how she used to be my net bowler while also climbing on our garage roof without the necessity of a ladder if my ball went up there when she was aged well over fifty. 

What may happen for the rest of mine and my families lives, I think that one of the longest lasting life affirming ostensibly small actions has been when Ma inadvertently introduced to me to Cricket in the summer of 1991. All she intended to was turn on the BBC at a difficult time of her life to keep her six year old autistic son briefly amused. This action has led to thirty years and counting of me living Cricket, which Ma always encouraged me to do. In fact, she loved watching Bob Willis on “The Verdict”. She adored his facade whilst enjoying his exaggerated caricature, which many in the game took on face value without any nuance for many years. Of course, Ma stated this very differently in her own vernacular. 

In fact, she wasn’t an old person at all until the last week, when she suddenly became one. She was also very much a close mate, a confidant and, to be honest, my everything.

The evening after Ma’s funeral it was my club Chirk’s Annual General Meeting on Zoom. Poignantly, I was appointed to be Officer for Diversity. The first thing I wanted to do upon hearing this was to go into our kitchen where Ma would be sitting in her chair in the corner. Unfortunately though she wasn’t there of course.

What has enabled me to manage these last six months infinitely better than I ever thought possible without my beloved Ma these last six months has been my family (who live next door and I genuinely don’t know what would happened to me without my sister Melanie), my mates, working out in our gym at home and running before returning to NumberOneHSP in early May, and, of course , Cricket, especially my club mates at Chirk Cricket Club in Wrexham.

At my first committee meeting on Zoom in February, they agreed to my suggestions that both teams wear black armbands at the earliest opportunity in memory of Ma and, more touchingly, to name the club nets at Holyhead Road after her with adjoining plaque. Both of these were kindly provided with club funds. I am so enormously touched to be so accepted and understood just for being me, especially with the kindness and long lasting appreciation shown to my family. We are planning on having an unveiling of the plaque before the end of the season.

Also, the club sent condolence cards to not only myself but addressed them to my sister Melanie as well with an accompanying lovely message from the family of the Chairperson. 

I am so lucky to have Cricket, and Chirk CC in my life, but if it wasn’t for the most important there ever will be in my life in my Ma I may never have stumbled across this wonderful sport that we love at all or, perhaps, even been institutionalised as the Specialist told her upon diagnosing me with Autism at age four. We proved him wrong didn’t we, Ma?”