THE CRICKET season is upon us.

The wind remains cold enough to send brass monkeys on a desperate hunt for welding equipment.

Still, this Sunday – weather permitting – brave souls from around our county will step onto damp outfields and attempt to hit a small red round thing with an oblong wooden thing.
The sound of five-and-a-half ounces of leather-bound cork smacking into various parts of humans’ anatomies and causing yelps of pain will bring cheer to all watching and many of those playing.

For some ungodly reason, the powers that be in Pembrokeshire cricket decreed this season should start on a Sunday.

That leaves those nursing bruises, aches, sprains, stiff backs, creaking knees, and pinged fingers with no time to recover before returning to work.

Suppose those who play cricket are still as responsible and abstemious as Badger remembers from his cricketing past. In that case, there will be many headaches and impromptu visits to the bathroom during working hours next Monday, April 25.

To ease his creaking joints, Badger will be one of those spending Monday in a mentholated concoction of horse liniment, Friar’s Balsam, and Radox.

At the same time, his fingers will be carefully wrapped and soothed with cooling unguents and cremes.

Suppose between Sunday around six in the evening and Monday around seven in the morning there are appley beverages and a poor decision involving their consumption.
In that case, Badger might also have a moist towelette draped over his fevered brow and a small glass of Panadol not too far away.

As he lies in his bath of pain, seeking to banish the little pain gremlins, Badger will reflect on the opposing batsmen’s cursed luck, the failure of fielders failing to stop slow long half-volleys from being carted over cow corner, and whether he should wear glasses while batting, so he can see the bloody ball.

And Badger shall dream that if the chips fell his way – nomnomnom, chips! – he could be skippering England from a bathchair down at third man between bowling overs of devilish non-spinning spin that humbled the Aussies.

After all, there’s no difference between seven overs 1-40 on twenty-two yards of rolled plasticine in a Pembrokeshire League game and 8-23 against Australia at Lords on an absolute belter.

That’s the thing about cricket.

Anyone can play it, but few can get beyond the semi-pro club level. A tiny number gets to a county squad. Few will appear in test cricket.

The chances of getting that far from a state school are so infinitesimally small as to be non-existent.

The mahoosive majority of cricket players are as remote from test cricket as they are from being the first human beings to go downhill skiing on Pluto.

Anyone can theoretically make it, but the realistic chances are almost nil.
And yet every cricketer, no matter how inexperienced or useless, is an expert on what ails England’s cricket team.

In the same way, many people in Pembrokeshire have strong views about what a community or county councillor should do to address Pembrokeshire’s ills.

There is a huge difference between an individual’s chances of becoming a community councillor and opening the batting for England.

Not putting it too strongly, becoming a community councillor in Pembrokeshire depends on finding someone to nominate you.

Whole community councils are “elected” without facing any contest for any seat.
Moreover, those aren’t small councils; their number includes the councils of Pembrokeshire’s larger communities with pretty hefty budgets to manage.

If you are so inclined, your chances of becoming a community councillor are akin to being picked for a friendly match if one of your mates plays cricket; their side is short, and you’re in the bar wearing trainers.

Becoming a county councillor is a little trickier.

First of all, you must familiarise yourself with some very basic propositions: the Council doesn’t fund the health service, the Health Board gets its budget, and the Council can’t “chip in” to save A&E at Withybush; secondly, there are rules about your conduct and what you can and cannot say that are enforceable through disciplinary proceedings conducted by people who aren’t interested in whataboutery; thirdly, you have to do some work (or at least say that you are).

For those councillors interested in careerism and tokenism, we come to the next step: becoming a Member of the Senedd.

Suppose you’re fortunate enough to be a donkey and a member of the Labour Party. In that case, Badger reckons you’ve got a really good chance in any of the seats (regional or constituency) east of the M4, south of Brecon, or in the bit of North Wales that is forever Liverpool.

Best of all, get selected as number one or two on the Mid and West Wales Regional list for Labour and you could be Vlad the Impaler and get in.

Standing for Plaid in Pembrokeshire is like trying to push water uphill with a feather, but gargle with gravel and learn Welsh and North Wales beckons.

Wearing a blue rosette anywhere in Wales is an invitation to online trolls to accuse you of eating babies, killing grandmothers, and being to blame for their unemployability.
And so, readers, onwards – though not necessarily upwards – to Westminster.

It would be best if you had extraordinary luck, low cunning, and the ability to push the right buttons to become an MP.

The higher you go, the greater the demands for loyalty because the greater rewards you can get.

Just say what you’re told to say, and you’re set for life.
You don’t have to have a single idea in your head or even be able to walk and chew gum simultaneously.

The heady heights of Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet are within reach, readers.
Look at the evidence.

Grant Shapps is the UK’s Transport Minister, and Lesley Griffiths is Wales’s Rural Affairs Minister.

If they can do it, anyone can, or, indeed, can’t.
Why not you, too, readers?

Climbing the ladder doesn’t depend on skill or even competence, only inching upwards and not falling off.