December was nets. Every recess the red leather flew from a hand into a bat shiny with linseed oil. Concrete was the hardest wicket on Earth. But the serious imitators of Test excellence practised after school on the ovals. Coaches watched the form as we tossed down a length into soft nets of finest thread. Backwards and forwards of pitch, block, spin, hook, googly, drive all the way to sunset. The great leveller was backyard nets at friends’, makeshift awnings to prevent smashed windows. A four was into the fence on the full, over the fence was six and out.