When I was a teenager, I played park cricket on a Saturday. I was pretty ordinary, but I loved the game (maybe not as much as Michael Guy – but then again nobody does. Well maybe his brother and his dad. Let’s just say the Guy family and move on). My team was led by an ageing maniac whose name I cannot remember. I do remember running him out, however.
He was pretty deaf and didn’t hear my repeated calls. I, on the other hand, had no trouble hearing his abuse. Well most of us in the team were young and a few old geezers like my skipper guided us in the art of cricket. Every now and then we’d play other teams who had geezers of their own, and I would marvel, with some degree of pity it must be said, at some decrepit greybeard who would hobble after a ball, lower himself to the ground to gingerly pick it up, and then dribble the ball back to the keeper due to shoulder issues. “Why do they bother?” and “Why don’t they just give it away” my young mind would ask.
Now I’m the decrepit geezer, and I can answer my younger self: It’s because when you keep a spot in your heart for the muse of cricket, every now and then she pays you back with a coin beyond measure.
Such it was on Friday afternoon, for the annual Staff versus Students cricket game.
As my capacity to contribute meaningfully to the outcome of the game diminishes, I pour my energies into recruitment. Hence I had two wildcards up my sleeve for the game. We enacted staff prerogative to choose to bowl first. We softened the student batting up by our stalwart opening bowlers Mr Damien Healy and Mr Ross Keefer. We then unleashed, like the wargs of Isenguard, our top new recruit, Mr Brad Cates. Brad bowled in-swinging left arm thunderbolts that seemed impossible to play. He was ably backed up by our other debutante recruit, Mr Michael Bray. By the time these four bowled two overs each, the student top order had toppled. We even had the luxury of suffering through two overs of absolute pies from me. By that stage most were welcoming the comedy relief that my bowling afforded. Our other bowling, from Mr David Hinze and Mr Stuart Proctor of the Maintence Staff, Mr Andrew (never-in-the-fielding-position-his-captain-puts-him) Halloran, Mr Troy Zernike (TZ), and beard-powered Mr Tim Fisher was tight and penetrating.
We dropped 4-5 catches which was a little disappointing but the rest of our fielding was excellent. Mr Scott Walsh (Walshy) was dynamic behind the stumps and Dave, standing at point, exploded into movement like a sun bear after a rolling melon whenever the ball threatened to pass through the infield. In the end, we dismissed the Students for a sub-par 116. Michael Guy was the standout batsman for the students with an excellently made 41, carting our bowling for some very long straight hits for 6. His perceived weakness for spin remains untested, as my spin was as nude as an obese businessman at a Turkish Bathhouse.
Our confidence in chasing this total was somewhat diminished when we started facing the student bowling. Every member of the Student team can bowl and they gave us very few loose balls. Tom Stevenson was particularly hard to score off. It was up to Mr Brad Cates, Mr Tim Fisher and Mr Damien Healy to steer us to victory. We suffered periodic losses of wickets and after losing 8, it was down to a nerve-wracking final few overs. Tim is made of stern stuff, however. Whether it’s from his days in the Police force, his Kokoda treks, his Green Beret style training regime, or just fatherhood, he proved to be a sea of calm in an ocean full of trigger-fingered umpiring, dusty deteriorating pitches and hammy twitches.
In the end the staff scored the required 117 with three balls to spare.
My thanks go to all of my College colleagues who played and trained for the Staff team, the students who played in a wonderful spirit, our junior umpires, any staff who came to watch, as well as the parents. Thanks too must go to Mr Craig Bassingthwaighte who gives his patronage to this event every year (surely contrary to the instructions of any workplace health legal advisor).
« Back to IndexNext article in this edition »