Club Cricket: What’s that burning sensation?

Not over the Hill – Issue 2

By Andrew Gigacz

When I made a decision to return to playing cricket after a gap of more than a dozen years (see Not over the Hill, Issue 1 – The Legend of Chicken Man), I was pretty confident that I’d be able to slip back into the “groove” before too long. Notwithstanding the added years and pounds my body has endured in that time, I’d maintained an almost reasonable level of fitness via the occasional kick of the footy or backyard cricket game with the kids and plenty of walking.

But I was under no illusions as to how I would perform in a cricketing sense. At age 44 and a long time away from the game, the aim was to gain fitness and have some fun. I’d be playing a few grades down from the level in which I participated in the 80s and early 90s. Back in those days, losing would hurt, really sting. I played in teams that were expected to make the finals every season. And mostly we did, picking up flags on a semi-regular basis. So when we lost, we took it hard. As did the coach, usually. Just how hard was usually measurable by how many kilometres we were made to run at the following Tuesday training session.

But that was a long time ago. At Clifton Hill, my focus would be enjoyment, and maybe passing on a few kernels of advice to the kids coming up through the ranks. If we won, great but if not, it was just nice to be back on the field after so long.

Not that I wasn’t putting in. I’d still take pride in my performance and berated myself if I bowled a loose ball, played a bad shot or misfielded. But I wasn’t going to be arriving home in a foul mood because we’d lost. That sort of stuff was for the blush of youth.

And the first few games of my comeback panned out exactly that way. For two games we never looked like winning and I was happy enough to bowl my 8 overs and make a few runs here and there. I suppose the fact that I took seven wickets in those first two games and made 47 not out in the second made it easier to swallow defeat. In the third game we actually threw the game away after being in a winning position. But even then the disappointment was short-lived, subsiding quickly with the help of a couple of beers. We finally cracked it for a win in my fourth game. It was a nice feeling but the urgency of years ago was lacking.

Then came a test. The Thursday night after four games in the Fifths, a text came through saying that I’d been picked in the Thirds.  Suddenly I’d jumped two grades. Still, as chuffed as I was, I was determined to continue the enjoyment of my comeback to cricket.

This proved to be not too difficult at first. With my first ball in the higher grade, I slipped the ball through the batsman’s gate and bowled him. We went onto win the game comfortably, along with the next one. I wasn’t taking bags of wickets but was bowling tidily.

In our second game after Christmas we played a one-dayer against Burwood. Apparently earlier in the season, we’d lost a close one to them and a bit of bad-blood developed between the two sides during that match. Prior to this game, Scott, our skipper, made it very clear that losing was simply not an option this time.

Batting first, we knocked up a very competitive 7/227 from our 40 overs. Despite a solid start to their run chase, Burwood didn’t look to be a threat for most of the afternoon. I chipped in with a couple of wickets and a catch and with only three overs remaining, Burwood were 7 down and 35 runs from victory.

It might have been complacency. Perhaps it was fatigue; it had been a hot day. Whatever the case, the next 18 balls saw their guys take the long handle to us. It saw us misfield, fumble and panic. It saw certain victory turn to defeat.

And it saw the return of a feeling I had not experienced in cricket for many, many years. The pain. The pain of defeat. The pain of losing a game that was ours for the taking. The sort of pain you get during footy season as a Doggies supporter. I was gutted.

That loss burned. It burned through that evening. It burned all the following day. It burned at training on the following Tuesday and Thursday. It burned the following Saturday as we started our next game. We won that game easily and still it burned.

And it burns still now. As I write this I’m preparing for a day in the field against the Deepdene Bears. We are defending 242 on a slow outfield. We should win. And if we do, I’ll be happy and we will play finals.

But that burning sensation will not be gone. Not until we meet Burwood, either in the Semi Final or the Grand Final. And make amends by beating them. Only then will the pain subside.

What was that I said about just enjoying my cricket, regardless of results?  Sorry, it simply means too much – to me and to my team.

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

Comments

  1. pauldaffey says:

    Go Gigs,

    I’ve always hated Burwood.

  2. Gigs – great to read about someone who is passionate about winning. I get tired of apologising for liking a good solid victory. Never mind just enjoying the game, a win makes it SO much better. Give ’em (Burwood) hell.

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