After a hiatus of a couple of years, the Staff vs Students First XI was back on the calendar this year. This looked like a challenge for the Staff, as the First XI were flushed with confidence after winning the APS premiership.

Despite the fact that my physique is more suited to a robust game of Dungeons and Dragons than cricket, I decided to accept the mantle of Staff captain. Which really only meant that I had to organise the post-match refreshments…

I began to assemble my team in the manner of Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen. I guess that means Peer Richards was my Clint Walker. Actually, I might stop this before I go through the entire cast (and realise that I am more Telly Savalas than Lee Marvin) because I am sure few people reading this know what the heck I’m talking about (the unkind might say that’s not a lot different to my philosophy class).

We enacted Staff prerogative to dispense with the toss (not the first of such random and dubious prerogatives that we invented) and sent the young bravos in. My APS final half time speech about the dangers of hubris – delivered without reference to Classical Greek drama, I am pleased to say – went ignored as the First XI swaggered around the ground, impugning our capacities. They had cause to rue such overconfidence.

For it was to my old trusted warhorses, Damien Healy and Ross Keefer, that I turned. One inswinger, one outswinger. I love that combination ever since my heady days of captaining the Gymea Bay B3s in the early 90s. “Baa-baa” Lamb and “Bags” Muir being the out and in swingers back then. Pressure was immediate applied to their batting line up, and when their skipper and prize bat, Leo Davies, was dismissed off one of Damo’s thunderbolts, we knew we were on. A parade of trundlers followed. Halloran, Richards, Abdou, Neagle, Cowling, Walther; each one was as cagey as the next (well, except for my half-trackers). Secret weapon, and staff debutante, Hayden Volzke bowled some left-arm orthodox – an effective weapon in any team, and was for ours too. Three wickets to him. James Kirk held their innings together, but they could only manage 99 off their 20 overs. There was some grumbling when it was realised that we played with 12 on the field for those 20 overs, but given that I am more obelisk than human, I at least, am happy to let that slide.

With the new format, we played each innings on a different Wednesday, so the next Wednesday it was the Staff’s turn to chase down what was felt to be a surmountable target. Ross Keefer was dismissed early and there was much whooping and other such exuberances. Will McMonagle’s pace did cause a stir amongst the staff ranks I can now admit, after the game. But it was Hayden Volzke again that stood up and with fellow opener Harry Hall (yes, he IS a staff member, students!) gave the staff a very good platform to strike. This we did by chipping away, with our batters falling reasonably steadily. Ash Abdou anchored the latter half of the run chase and Jordan Gaz hit the winning runs. We had 8 balls to spare.

The grumbling did continue after the match where various wild accusations were levelled at me. Such as that I deliberately scheduled the event on a day when the students all were doing fitness testing; and that I organised with the council to have the field mown so that the ball ran faster. I don’t know what echelon of the Illuminati the students think I inhabit, but if I did, then I am pretty sure the air-conditioning in my Commodore would be working.

It was a terrific couple of afternoons. I would like to thank my colleagues who played, my colleagues who umpired (thanks Kate Webb and Russell McGrath), my colleagues who spectated, the parents of the First XI, and the kids themselves. If only you knew how much we love these games…

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