Almanac Cricket: Dominance at Diggers
The sun is out, the temperature at an ambivalent 20-odd, the forecast clear. The all-consuming, all-conquering beast that is the Woodend F Troop is at full strength, and hungry for their third win of the young season. Knocking over a team of fifteen-year-olds the previous week for 68 may have inflated our confidence a wee bit, but we certainly have wind in our sails as our fleet of utes, “can I borrow the nice car” station wagons and hatchbacks roll into Diggers Rest.
Well, apart from star recruit Macca, from Seconds. He’s bloody late.
Coming off a solid four in 17’s, I’m not too keen on wielding the willow. Very deliberately, I’ve donned the training singlet, shorts and thongs, left the kit in the back of the car and am fizzing a two-piece from hand-to-hand, defying my abysmal skill at leg-spin.
And then, Russ: “FYI, Paddy, you’re opening.”
Stomp moodily back to car. Piff thongs in boot. Apply sunscreen. Pad up.
A couple of other younger blokes are in the F Troop today – whether we’re here to lower the average age or to play cricket is still a mystery.
Brandan, off a 49 in Fourths, sees me with the pads half-applied and grins nervously.
*a few grunted expletives*
“You want some throwdowns?”
It helps. A little bit. The first four shots, all tentative forward pokes, are inside edged to midwicket.
Soon enough, I’m marching with Bazza to the middle. The grass reaches to my shins, and the pitch is about as wide as the pegs themselves. Bazza takes pity on me and takes first ball. He plays out the over.
He’s a great bloke, Bazza, and has some kind words mid-pitch.
“Remember, Paddy. Three stages of batting. Survival. Accumulation. Destroy. You’ll be right.”
I arrange my face into what I hope was a reassured smile but probably looked like ones face when suffering extreme constipation.
We do pretty well though, battling it out until drinks. The boys are pretty happy.
Macca is still not here.
Cap’n Blacky says to me that I’ve batted well. The outside edge of the bat would say otherwise, but I’ll accept the compliment.
Baz and I put on 57 before he’s caught slog-sweeping a spinner, a bloke who looks like he’s been wheeling away in the sun for 50 years. Rob comes in.
After an eternity of prodding and poking for little reward, I’m finally out trying to whack another spinner in the next couple of overs, bringing Daz to the wicket. The pair bat well before Rob is caught for 19. We’re 3/88 and JT, fresh off a very good run with the bat, walks in.
Now un-padded, re-hydrated and not terrified, I can relax.
“He’s in good nick, Jack.”
Heads turn, half-interestedly.
“Is he now,” someone lazily offers.
I confirm Jack’s prowess with the willow, and proceed to describe his run of high scores in 15’s and G Grade. Out in the middle, he pokes one through point.
“Shaaaarrrtttt,” we drawl.
Jack turns for two, ball-watching, and is run out by a fair few metres. For zero.
“Aaaaahhhhh,” we groan.
Russ lifts himself off the bench and strolls out with Dazza. We’re now 5/92. Luckily the pair bat out the rest of the session, and we take tea.
Macca shows up, to much mirth, as Russ and Daz head out to the middle after the break.
“Where were you?”
Macca wears a wince.
“Son’s karate presentation. I promised him a thousand bucks if he got his black belt. He walked me all the way to the ATM.”
And thus we begin to piss ourselves laughing. Macca takes out his frustrations however; when Russ is bowled after the ball rebounds off his foot, he tees off for a quickfire 34, featuring three booming sixes.
When he departs, we’re 6/194. Daz has reached 50, but has a sore hammy and is flagging. Blacky joins him. The pair push singles around the park, taking us toward and past 200. We’ll be happy with 225, 230.
The ground is pretty big, which goes to show just how incredible the following outburst is.
Daz belts 30 runs off a single over.
He goes from 65 to 95 in a single over. And then brings up a century with another shtonker of a maximum off the penultimate delivery of the innings.
It doesn’t need to be said, but we’re pretty happy. I don’t think Daz will need to spend a cent at the clubhouse for the next few months.