The Ten Commandments for average cricketers

My pre-school scallywags have caught the cricket bug. I’d like to give them the knowledge I gained over 20 years of pissing away my Saturdays in 40 degree heat for a career batting average of 11.63. Upon their 16th birthday they won’t receive the keys to the Camry, rather they will receive the ultimate gift of knowledge to help navigate their cricketing journey – The Ten Commandments for average cricketers.


1. You shall not attend Tuesday night training sessions

Nothing worthwhile ever happens at a Tuesday night training session. You don’t win the selection battle on a Tuesday evening. Any good form shown in the nets is quickly forgotten by the time the selectors break bread over dim sims and VB cans at 8pm on Thursday evening.

Tuesday nights can also be dangerous for the insidious practice of incorporating fitness training. “No nets tonight lads, we are going for a run.” I have seen grown men and captains of industry break down into tears when these words are spoken. Fair enough. The practice of incorporating cricket fitness started creeping in late in my career. If Mark Taylor (with a 94% body fat ratio) can bat for two days at Peshawar in 48 degree heat to rack up 334 then I don’t see the relevance of a 3km time trial. Cricket fitness is all about strategy and minimisation of effort – hit boundaries, position yourself in the slips, bowl off-spin and don’t lose the toss if it’s over 30 degrees.

Tuesday night is for the try-hards. The domain of blokes that think turning up at 4.30pm to put the nets up may win them a place in the firsts (despite racking up 1-68 in the thirds last week) or those who are at cricket solely to avoid their wives or parental responsibilities.

The cricket season is a long and tortuous campaign. Save your legs and enthusiasm on a Tuesday lads. Try new and exciting ventures not normally associated with cricketing clubs like reading or talking to girls.


2. You shall not invite a prospective girlfriend to watch you play

In my early 20s (well before I met Mrs D) I invited a young lass I had been seeing for a few weeks to watch me play. What was I thinking?

The match was the final of the Melbourne VTCA first grade one day competition and played on the Labour Day public holiday. Instead of playing in front of a crowd of two scorers and a Labrador, there were 50 people watching – a suburban cricketers Boxing Day Test!

We fielded first. I had the athleticism of Bruce Reid in the field. Every over I kept scanning for her. By the 38th over (of a 40 over innings) she had not appeared. I assumed she wasn’t coming. Next thing I know the striker creamed one in my direction at mid-off. I gave it the Sydney Harbour Bridge dive and hit the deck as the ball sped through me to the boundary. As I picked myself up off the ground the following conversation took place (loud enough for all 50 spectators and houses within a 5km radius) between myself and our aggrieved medium pace bowler:

Bowler: “For F*** sake Doddsey, at least get something behind the ball you long legged prick.

Dodson:  F*** you, I wasn’t the one who bowled the half volley.

As I set off to the Boundary for the pill, it turns out a 51st spectator had arrived – she had arrived seconds before the above incident. I waved. She looked at the dirt.

During the innings break I went over and invited her to the clubrooms to sample the spread of ham and cheese sandwiches (that had been sitting out since 10am), lemon cordial (with a stingy 1/7 ratio) and platter of BBQ shapes. She declined and continued reading her book.

I implored her to hang around for 20 minutes as I was opening the batting. She politely agreed to stay, yet we both knew her heart wasn’t in it. When I inside edged the 4th ball onto my pad and it ballooned to the bowler my display of supreme athleticism and masculinity was complete. There would be no ton and waving my bat in her direction today. I strode from the crease to the sheds (trying to at least display some athletic form), ripped the pads off and went over for a chat, hoping that she would be impressed that I owned a cable knit cricket jumper. We didn’t go out again after that.


3. Honour your personal achievements

You spend 90% of your time failing in cricket. When you have a win, don’t be afraid to tell the world. Can anyone remember Paul Broster? According to his Wikipedia page he played two first-class cricket matches for Victoria between 1995 and 1996. A fine batsman, good enough to play Shield cricket and several pay grades above my cricketing ability. I remember Paul for one reason and one reason only – I dismissed him for single figures in a VTCA first grade match. Years of toiling with my offies, praying to hit a loose bit of turf to knock the ball off the square, suddenly became worthwhile, now that I had a first class player on my dismissal list.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of attending a cricket or football match with me at the MCG over the last decade must take the ‘tour’ to the lower level of the Ponsford stand to have me show them Paul’s name on the Victorian cricketer honour board and tell the tale of a how I beat him in flight. Most of my guests leave mid story to go and hide in the urinals until I’m finished.

I once played against Stuart Broad in Melbourne. Over the last decade I have pointed this out to Mrs D at every opportunity. During last year’s Big Bash Mrs D (normally mild mannered) casually turned to me on the couch after another Broad reference and threatened to call an intervention if this continued.


4. You shall go hard in the 90s

I once scored a century (out of approx. 300 career innings) so consider myself an expert in navigating the 90s. In my opinion the only way to master the nerves is to go hard.

I counted the runs during my innings (normally this could be done with my fingers) and this day I knew exactly when I hit the 90s. The nerves kicked in. Suddenly I went from Allan Border poise to Michael Slater reckless abandon. The sense of occasion hit me. I’d never been in this spot before and would never get back there. I needed to make this count.

I decided on a death or glory approach. When you have batted for 50 overs and have your eye in, it would make sense to just knock it round and do it in a canter in singles. Bugger that common sense.

I decide if it is full it had to go. On 91 I’m delivered a half volley on middle peg. I lift my head from Wagga to Cairns and swing the Gunn & Moore with all my might and deposit the pill onto the road. The strategy is working. Just one more lofty blow and the glory will be mine.

My partner tells me to calm down. I tell him to let me do my thing and for f*** sake back up and don’t run me out.

97… Next up is a decent pill on a good length outside off peg. I am going for it. F*** it wasn’t quite there to drive on the up. A mis-hit! My fate is now with the Gods and a pimply faced teenager at mid-off.

Time stands still as I see the ball float in the air at knee height. Mid-off makes a half-hearted attempt to catch, however, the ball lands half an inch short of his clutches and runs past his fingernails for a boundary. Half an inch saves me from a lifetime of cricketing torment. I raise the bat in pure relief to my teammates and the nearby Commodore Station Wagon my parents are sitting in.

Two balls from 91 to Nirvana. Go hard or go home boys.


5. You shall take your own ball to training

Question: Which ball will swing more?

A: A four-piece ball that you fish out of the club bucket of balls which is in its 498th over

B: the two-piece ball you have left under the house for 3 months over winter and have applied 4 coats of Mr Sheen to on the way to training

The answer is B my friends.


6. You shall give false testimony against your umpire

The cricket world evens itself out. It is a scientifically proven fact – just like the fact that Shane Watson doesn’t really wear Brut aftershave (how could he take their money!) For every time you nick it to third slip you should proudly stand your ground and make the umpire earn his $70. Conversely, when you get triggered after inside edging onto your pads, don’t take the teapot stance and whinge to the umpire (save that for the sheds and your teammates).


7. Honour your cricket bat

Blade..stick..meat-wagon..sabre.. whatever you call your trusty piece of willow, you must give it respect. It is your most important tool of the trade. I carried one bat through my senior career – perhaps that is more a commentary on my lack of output rather than sentimentality.

My love affair started with my trusty Gunn & Moore way back in 1993. As a 15-year-old it was time for my first senior bat and it was decided this would be my Christmas present.

I knew what I wanted. As a Steve Waugh fan I thought if Gunn & Moore was good enough for the great man then it would be good enough for me. I set eyes on the stick and pick it up. A tad heavy I think as I play imaginary cut shots to bemused onlookers. I’ll grow into it. The blue and green stickers beam out at me. It seems too perfect to even hit.

This is the day of ‘lay by’. The princely sum of $20 per week is settled on as instalments and in 12 weeks the bat will be mine for $240. Mr Lawrence takes my blade to the back room for storage. Time passes slowly but by Christmas the bat is mine.

We were partners (mostly in failure) for 15 years. 12 cans and 10 hours after scoring my only century I am cutting up the dance floor in Wagga and actively approaching females (who I am hoping follow local grade cricket). I engage in a chat with a young lass with intent in her eyes. This is foreign to me. She suggests we head back to her place. I say only if I can bring my Gunn & Moore as it is not sleeping alone tonight after a ton. I went home alone that night. Your bat comes first boys!


8. You shall carry on like a dickhead in the sheds when dismissed unfairly

In a first grade semi in Wagga for the mighty Lake Albert cricket club I was batting three. After going in at one for bugger all the first pill took off from a good length and hit me on the gloves. The second hits the same spot, runs along the ground and takes middle. Thank you McPherson Oval (the former home ground of the North Wagga Saints and Wayne Carey). I am livid. Upon entering the rooms the Gunn & Moore goes flying, followed by a tirade that would make Richard Pryor blush.

I look up from my rage, still spiting vitriol, when I see a young child and his father (who the bat has just missed). The father happens to be none other than Geoff Lawson (Henry cut his teeth for Lake Albert back in the day). I issue apology after apology.


9. You shall not murder spectators, however, don’t take any shit from them

The worst nightmare for a fine leg fielder in suburban first grade cricket is when it rains sufficiently for the lower grades to be called off, yet you still play due to your wicket being covered. Cue 20-30 lower graders of the home team knocking back VBs at an alarming rate while engaging in ‘constructive criticism’ of your bowling and fielding for five hours.

At first you can try and laugh it off. It will get you eventually. One day at some southern Melbourne battlefield (whose name I have long forgot) I copped it all day. No respect was earnt from a steady 2-60. My weak arm brought comparisons to the pensioners on the nearby bowls green. My parentage and sexual orientation were all frequent topics of conversation.

I thought I might silence them when I politely asked if any of them knew what it was like to play on a turf wicket? When I was invited to continue the discussion behind the grandstand after play I asked the skipper if I could move to second slip.

After bowling the team out with two overs to go I made my way to the crease. Three balls later I made my way from the crease. My new ‘friends’ on the hill were beside themselves.

Head down and desperately hoping to avoid eye contact I stormed off the ground. I found safety in the sheds. What I did not find was my cricket bag, or any of my teammates for what it is worth. Yes, I had entered the wrong sheds. I thought of staying and signing clearance papers, just to save the embarrassment of the walk of shame. My ‘friends’ were waiting for me.


10. You shall never look back

The other day I ran into an ex-teammate Adam Contessa – former Western Bulldogs player and gun local cricketer. Adam was still plying his trade in a local completion. After 20 minutes of chat Adam’s eyes lit up and he said “shit, I have to tell the boys about that six you got hit for at Caulfield.”

From all good judges in attendance that day it was the biggest six hit in club cricket history. The violent sound of the leather on willow still causes me to wake up at 3am in a cold sweat. I could hear tennis players diving for cover as the pill lodged on Court 3. The horses coming from wide barriers at the track also nearly wore it. I still can’t watch the Caulfield Cup.

I didn’t look back. Why celebrate the batsman’s success and celebrate your own failure as the ball flies through the air? Simply admire the Puma logo on your spikes and make your way back to the top of your mark. Nothing to see here.


Follow these Ten Commandments my young scallywags and you will be well on your way to emulating your old man’s journey into cricketing irrelevance.

Yours in cricket,

Craig William Dodson


About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    So *you’re* The Grade Cricketer!!!. Sensational Craig.

  2. John Butler says:

    Hugely entertaining Craig.

    Many points of recognition.

    Rule 2 – you made a big big mistake there. Separation of powers must be preserved at all times.


  3. Luke Reynolds says:

    Sensational Craig!
    I do actually remember Paul Broster.
    Wish I’d taken your Tuesday night advice earlier. Really enjoying Tuesday nights at home this season.

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