The secret behind Washington Park’s favourite son

As Rob Quiney, Washington Park Sharks’ favourite son and Baggy Green Cap Owner #429, confidently and defiantly bludgeoned his first ball in Test Cricket to deep square leg a knowing smile will have emerged on the faces of a few old timers from Packer Park in Carnegie.

That he took a thunderbolt from the world’s best bowler head-on was no surprise to me, as my mind wandered back to a moment where I believe it all began.

Rob’s is a classic “Boys Own Annual” story. With his Washington Park suburban roots, his determined and steady climb through the District & State ranks and his legendary late father JQ’s passion for the game, the club, the association and his son the cricketer. Much has been written about Rob’s late blooming development, his battle with the bulge and his dedicated team ethic, but I think I know the “X factor” that has driven him to the elite level.

As further evidence to support my hunch, in the lead up to Rob’s debut I read with interest a Mark Hayes’ News article of how “watchful eyes in the Victorian camp noticed almost a decade ago, while training near the St Kilda district cricketers, a chubby young bloke who had a happy knack of picking balls bowled off his hip and depositing them over the square-leg fence. For Quiney, they were shots modelled on his childhood hero Allan Border.”

Sure,,,,,, these shots were modelled on AB, but why was this the shot that took him to the elite level???

The specifics are now a bit hazy, but it was a day in the late 80s or early 90s where I reckon it all began.

It was one of those wet Saturday afternoons in springtime in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Where cricket was washed out and we spent the day in the clubrooms watching the races on TV, playing cards and contributing to the club’s coffers over the bar. Little Robbie was probably about 7 or 8 years old, and a permanent fixture at the club from October to March tagging alongside JQ. And true to form, he was around the place this rainy day with a bat in his hand and asking anyone and everyone to bowl him down a few aggots.

It was late in the afternoon and we’d over compensated the club’s loss of weekly subs over the bar when Bluey, captain and opening bowler of the 5th XI, strode outside and decided to roll the arm over for Robbie in front of the pavilion.

Bluey was your typical cricket club loveable larrikin who loved a laugh, a practical joke and to be the centre of attention with good natured showboating amongst his mates.

After a few gentle half volleys, to which Robbie played a straight and respectful bat, Robbie followed through with a drive that penetrated a motley crew of fieldsman (with one hand already occupied) that included the likes of Bomber, Ringo, Plugger and myself. With the understandable late afternoon fielding attitude of “if you bowl that crap, you can field it yourself”, Bluey trudged off into the rain to retrieve the now sodden tennis ball.

As he fetched the ball back at mid-off, Bluey decided he’d come off the long run and crank it up a notch for young Robbie.

The plan was supposed to be the old “come in off the long run; stride in fast and furiously; pound the ball in short; and bounce it over his head” trick. That was the plan!

But for Bluey, with a wet tennis ball, a skinful of frothies and a record of inconsistent line and length at the best of times, things didn’t quite work out as they were planned. A microsecond after Bluey let his thunderbolt go we heard an almighty “THWAAACK” as the wet green missile cannoned smack bang into Little Robbie’s guts!

There was momentary silence and then panicked worry as we all rushed to Robbie’s side. He put on a brave face as the tears understandably started to well in his eyes. As you would expect, we decided to call stumps for the day, as Robbie bravely retired to the sanctuary of the clubrooms. On further inspection, like the famous Monty Python skit, it only turned out to be a “flesh wound” and the damage was confined to an almighty red mark that could serve as a billboard for the popular chain of Target Stores. Despite the unintentional circumstances, word of the Bluey thunderbolt was kept reasonably quiet to avoid any potential recriminations. Thankfully the issue quickly blew over, but for those of us that witnessed it, the story would be recounted over the years and met with guffaw and ridicule directed at Bluey, with his response being a combination of guilt and bravado in proclaiming it toughened young Robbie up for greater honours.

So when I read that Rob’s signature shot was dispatching the ball off his hip to the boundary, ala AB, and I saw his first runs in Test Cricket from the same shot, it all added up. After the pain and suffering from the unintentional lesson from Bluey’s school of hard knocks, I think Rob has had the burning motivation to never to be hit in the same spot again! And that, my friends, I reckon was the making of the boy into the man and the genesis of his signature attacking shot to the leg side boundary.

Unfortunately, as well as helping Rob climb to the top and notch up his first Test runs, it was also the shot that bought about his first dismissal in Test Cricket, in unlucky circumstances. As we often say in park cricket, he was “a good player outta luck”, but like the bloke in the Monty Python skit “if you live by the sword, sometimes you die by the sword.” Let’s hope Rob’s got many more Test innings to display his swordsmanship and bring success to the Aussies and himself.

Congrats Rob, you’ve done yourself, your family, your club, your state and now your country proud.

Go Sharks.

Stinga (with tongue partially planted in cheek).

About Ramon Dobb

A footy and cricket fanatic. A lifelong passionate one eyed Mighty Magpie fanatic. My writing is unashamedly written with one black & white eye open only - so please don't take offence, it's nothing personal, it's just the black & white way! Also a lifelong player and member of Washington Park Cricket Club, the Mighty Sharks. My 15 minutes of fame includes regular contributions to Hot Pies, the 1999-2004 Fanzine, and regular contributor to the Coodabeen Champions weekly competition from their heady 3RRR days. Go Pies and Floreat Pica.

Comments

  1. Stinga,

    you’ve emissed your calling in life
    “Sports Reporter” for the Herald Sun or Age

  2. How stiff was Robbie !!! the balls that Bluey managed to get on the pitch, where usually that short and off line , it’s a wonder he got hit at all !!!!!

  3. John Butler says:

    RD (or should that be Stinga?), I remember a chubby, jovial year 12 kid at Brighton Secondary who had a bit of a rep as a cricketer for St Kilda. He’s lost a lot of puppy fat since those days. Sadly, I haven’t. Nor do I qualify as a puppy any more. But I digress.

    Rob Quiney’s ascension is a really pleasing journeyman’s rise in an era of accelerated programs and chosen ones. I reckon it speaks to character. Here’s hoping he gets a second crack.

  4. Small world JB. Is it unAustralian to hope for our best top order batsman to spend another fortnight on the injury list?

    Thanks Twig and D-Boy. D-Boy, remember that an oversupply of beer can help perform miracles.

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