A Gunn & Moore for all seasons

11pm and I hear a loud crash in the garage downstairs. Sophie nudges me in the ribs and asks me to fulfil my marital duties and investigate. I fear the worst and hope for the best. The kids are sound asleep next door. I need some backup in case there is an ice addicted chap downstairs or a guy in a ski mask nicking my pale blue Camry. Where to turn? It is time to grab the Gunn & Moore!

I bound down the stairs and ponder my next move. I only have three shots and I don’t think the burgular will let me play in the ‘V’ until I get my eye in. My heart is pounding. I wonder if I should grab my lid? I open the door and to my relief see nothing. As it turns out a bag has just fallen off the shelf due to wind getting in. I breathe again. My boxing record stays at 0-2 (Tolland primary was the school of hard knocks).

The incident got me thinking about how much I had been through with my trusty Gunn & Moore.

It all started 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.

Brian Lawrence Sports was the premier sport store in Wagga Wagga. Run by an ex-local cricket legend it was the place for all your sporting needs. I waited for Dad to get home from work one Thursday evening and sat impatiently as he scoffed down the meat and three veg. ‘Can we go yet Dad’? Into the Commodore we go, headed for late night shopping.

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. Dad is still struggling with the introduction of velcro pads and helmets. This is the day of ‘lay by’. The princely sum of $20 per week is settled on as installments and in 12 weeks time 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.

The years flow by and I manage a few runs along the way for the mighty Lake Albert Cricket Club. One day I was opening the batting against my brother Brett who was playing for the opposition RSL Club. I head out with two overs to play after bowling the opposition out. We navigate the first over then Brett, an offie, and captain, calls for the pill to bowl the second and final over at me. He has seen too much in the backyard and thinks he has my number.

Ball one – well flighted. Dodson blocks.

Ball tw0 – very well flighted. Dodson blocks.

Ball three – insulting lollypop meant to suck in poor batsman. Dodson blocks.

Ball four – flighted above the moon. Dodson snaps and tries to hit over mid-off on one knee, Kim Hughes-style. Stumped.

To my knowledge I am the only opening batsman in Wagga first grade to be stumped with two balls to face trying to hit a six.

Silence in the rooms for 5 minutes. The Gunn & Moore sent flying. ‘Good shot Doddo’ says a teammate and laughter breaks in. Back to batting 7 next game for me.

I made my way to Sydney in my early 20s and lobbed at Easts Cricket Club in grade cricket. What followed was a few unsuccessful games in the fourths. One day at training the firsts opener came up to me and said he was hitting them like shit so wanted to get form back in the lower grade nets. A swap was made and as I look down the pitch I see Anthony Stewart charging in with a new pill. F-cking fantastic. I need my Gunn & Moore like never before.

Ball one – Quick and outside off peg. Dodson leaves figuring any attempts to play will result in an edge or play and miss.

Ball two – Quick and outside off peg. Dodson leaves

Ball three – Quick and outside off peg. Dodson leaves in an exaggerated manner. Stuart thinks he knows what is going on.

Ball four – Quick, outside off peg, off-cutter knocking out middle. Dodson found out.

The other opener (can’t recall his name) is a nasty left-armer who spends 5 minutes peppering my ribs. I hold my ground and decide if he pitches one up he is going the journey. I can see it’s full and swing majestically punching it back over his head. My high point. I want to walk out on the spot. The toughest 10 minutes of my cricketing life is over. I am glad I stood my ground for the session but understand my name won’t ever be called out for the firsts.

I  head back to Wagga and manage to live out a boyhood dream and crack a ton against St Michael’s Cricket Club. I count the runs during the innings and know I’m in the 90s. Can’t take the nerves. Death or glory Michael Slater-style. Forrest Hill is a small ground near the airport so I decide if its full it has to go. Six over mid-on moves me to 97. My partner tells me to calm down. I tell him to let me do my thing and for F-ck sake back up and don’t run me out. Next ball is a nice half volley. I am going for it. F-ck a miss hit! Time stands still as I see it in the air. Mid off dives but it lands half an inch short and runs thorough his legs for four. The relief. I can die a happy man. I nudge one to fine leg a few balls later (just in case the scorers have made a mistake) and am out soon after for 102. It’s hard to see the ball when you have tears in your eyes!

12 cans and 10 hours later I am full of confidence. A shy country boy is cutting up the dance floor. 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.

A few weeks later we play in a first grade semi against South Wagga. I’m batting three. The first pill takes off from a good length and hits 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. I look up and see a young child and his father, who the bat has just missed. The father happens to be none other that Geoff Lawson (Henry cut his teeth for Lake Albert and comes back to help the club out from time to time). I issue apology after apology. A bad way to finish my final game in Wagga.

I move to Melbourne and the mighty Royal Park Brunswick Cricket club in the Victorian Turf Cricket Association (coached by ex-Bulldog and gun local cricketer Adam Contessa). Prior to my first game a mate is in town and I show him the city. I roll home at 5am. We loose the toss. Bugger. We bowl and I feel worse and worse as the day goes on. We bowl them out and have 20 overs to bat. I grab old faithful. I think I would still blow over 0.05 and start playing shots I didn’t know I had. I’m 70 off about 50 balls. Three overs to go in the day and I think I can get the ton. We only need 30 to win by the way. My arrogance brings me undone. Caught on the fence. I nearly fall asleep on the walk to the sheds. I don’t grasp the opportunity I have missed to come back next week for ton number two. Royal Park lose 9 wickets for 28 runs and we lose by 2.

I manage to do more with the ball than the bat in Melbourne. I win a first grade flag with the Parkers and another cricketing dream is ticked off.

I retire 8 years ago.

The Gunn and Moore is retired from the field. No more battles to fight.

Simple lines, classic design and a middle to die for. Today’s bats have no soul. They are like Pamela Anderson, all front and no substance.

Today my Gunn & Moore’s primary purpose is home security.

I will never forget the memories.

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.

Comments

  1. Craig- one of my favourite things in this world is a cricket memoir. This is a ripper. Glad you didn’t have to scone someone in your garage! I remember camping at Victor Harbor (south of Adelaide) and hearing Anthony Stuart’s hat-trick for Australia. Surprised he didn’t play more games for his country. In a cupboard at Mum and Dad’s in the Barossa Is my bat from when I was a kid. I got Joel Garner’s autograph on it, but doubt it can be seen anymore! Thanks for that.

  2. Craig, Doddo,
    brilliant.

  3. You’re not the @GradeCricketer are you Craig?

    Very enjoyable read. What sort of condition is she in now?

  4. A good read, thanks Craig.

  5. Mick Jeffrey says

    I was a Kookaburra man myself as a lad (loved Deano amongst others).

  6. craig dodson says

    Thanks for reading everyone, glad you enjoyed it.
    Mickey I hope the Big Bird scribble remains…
    JD – funningly enough a mate introduced me to the @Gradecricketer twitter account over the weekend.. funny stuff and impressive to guard his identity for so long.

  7. Outstanding. The line re playing in the V is magnificent. Love that Henry Lawson was there. I suspect he didn’t moralise – he’d have seen thousands of examples. I had a Symonds chunky that lost part of its chunkiness when it reverberated around the dressing room – I think it did a couple of laps – after being run out for 13.

    Very entertaining read, written with the authenticity of a genuine cricketer. Thanks CD.

  8. craig dodson says

    Cheers John. I think Henry was ok after he checked that his son didn’t get hit by the flying blade. A sad day when Symonds bit the dust, I think every second kid had a Symonds Tusker back in the day. Catch you for a beer at the launch tonight.

  9. James Grapsas says

    Terrific article, Craig. Thanks.

    Enjoy the launch tonight. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it.

  10. Legs lovett says

    Great story, should have taken the girl home though

  11. Chris Hanlon says

    Royal Park/ Brunswick had a bloke named Leo Contessa playing for them many years ago, A really nice bloke, a Carlton Supporter….I played many games against him, would you know if Adam is a relation ?????…..Great read Craig………Thanks Chris.

  12. craig dodson says

    G’day Chris, Leo is in fact Adam’s father. Three of Leo’s sons play with Royal Park (Adam, Glen and Rhys) and the Contessa’s are an institution at the club.

  13. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Loved it , Craig while still living at mum and dad’s years ago I hear burglars in the she’d wake dad up go outside dad yells I’ve got a gun ( it sounded pathetic ) these kids about 15 bolt , I catch 1 of them ,my , Newberry comes in handy , dad says that’s enough I say 1 more it was the best cover drive I hit in my life , kids never came back .
    Previous highest score of 40 playing for , Payneham in ad turf I made 178 no and yep slept with the bat for a while after that , must admit that night I fell asleep upon having a shower I found 178 no written in texts on my back and do remember it was painful to get off ahh good memories definitely some similarities , Craig

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