A view of Australia from Fine Leg – Game 8: Macleod Cricket Club

To date I have travelled over 8000 kilometres across Australia on my cricketing adventure. Today I only had to pack the cricket bag for a leisurely 94 metre stroll to Winsor Reserve to pad up for the Macleod Cricket Club. There was a good chance if I over-pitched one of the straight breaks it might be sent straight back into my letterbox!


The Dodson tribe moved to Macleod (north eastern suburbs of Melbourne) about 12 months ago. We were chasing the great Australian dream of a nice house and decent sized backyard, after years of cramped inner city living. At the open home inspection I drew quite a few quizzical looks from a series of Chinese investors as I paced out the backyard pitch dimensions and started shadow batting. My fondest childhood memories were forged in the backyard cricket battles with my older brother. I was determined to give my kids the same opportunity.


Moving to a new suburb I was committed to integrate our family into the local sporting community. I started coaching Jack in the local footy team and when cricket season rolled around, it was natural to join the Macleod Junior Cricket Club and get involved as coach. Today was a chance to meet new friends and make a contribution to the senior club.


My youngster Jack (aged 7) was thrilled that Dad would get a shinny new Macleod Cricket Club cap, just like his. I was now playing for his club. One of the highlights of this whole adventure has been the opportunity to share the experience with my boys and today would hopefully create some memories that might sit in their little memory banks in future years. The boys had been giving me a bit of stick about my recent lack of runs, ‘Why can’t you bat like Labuschagne Dad?’, young Harry (aged 5) asked me the other day. There was some heat on me to get runs today!


My usual pre-match routine of driving for hours or catching a flight was turned on its head. For the first time this adventure I had time on my hands. A morning of domestic chores certainly got me in the mood to get out of the house and strap the pads on in the afternoon sun.


I meet Jacques – our skipper for today. Jacques took up cricket at the age of 37 and now in his 50s he is twice as fit as cricketers half his age. A great example that you can fall in love with the game at any age.


There is some other ‘senior’ cricketing experience in the shed with Ashy and Brian both in their 60s. It is a remarkable achievement to be out playing the game in your 60s and its a credit to their energy and infectious passion for this great game. There would be no whinging from me today about my dodgy back or tight hammies,


To balance out the average age, we also had two young kids in Earl (13) and Roland (14) playing for us.


We lose the toss and are asked to bowl by our opposition – the top of the ladder Greensborough. Winsor Reserve is the definition of a postage stamp size ground. A good mishit should still cause some damage to your Camry in the parking lot. From the gully I wave frantically to Mrs D and ask her to move our chariot to higher ground.


Wickets are hard to come by as Greensborough knock up the runs. I am called into the attack in the later stages and share a bowling partnership with young Earl – a promising left arm spinner. From my vantage point in the gully I can hear the revs this 13 year old is putting on the pill. It is impressive. After a few overs it occurs to me that I am being out bowled by someone 30 years my junior! I try and impart whatever wisdom I can between overs.


One of the great things about continuing into you ‘golden’ cricketing years is that you have the opportunity to play with kids who are starting their cricketing journey. It only seems like yesterday I was a 13 year old starting out in Wagga Wagga and being lent a hand by some senior pros. We all have an obligation to return the favor. This is one of the most brilliant features of our great game and it helps us old blokes still feel relevant and with a role to play.


We get set a chase just shy of 200 in 35 overs. First drop today. I’m called to the crease in the early overs after Brian (at 67 years young) is left short going for a ‘quick’ single. Let me tell you, at 67 I’ll be in the rocking chair telling my grand kids about the day I took 4 for playing against Stuart Broad (for the 386th time) rather than trying to scamper through for a quick single!


I get a few away early and reacquaint myself with the middle of the bat. I’m feeling good at the crease today. Batting in a cap gives you a certain freedom. Unfortunately, as has been the case most of my career, I lack the discipline to knuckle down. Once the shots are flowing, I’ve always found it hard to keep the adrenaline at bay. I’m caught on the fence for 19. I threw away an opportunity today.


Jacques leads from the front, however, when he goes for a well made 40 odd, we are behind the eight ball. The kids and veterans battle hard yet we fall 30 odd short. I’m dirty on not being able to help the team more, given my cricketing experience. At 41 I’m still a competitor at heart. I’m learning through this experience that this flame still burns bright inside me. This is equal parts good and bad I guess.


Back at ‘The Nest’ (Macleod CC social rooms) I see the club in full swing. Not a large turn out in numbers, however the richness of the banter, conversation and enjoyment is clear to see. Jokes are flying everywhere as the days cricketing exploits are embellished. The failures at the crease now bring laughter after a few hours perspective and the help of a cleansing ale.


Good people enjoying a laugh after a hard days cricketing toil. This is the foundation stone of what makes a community cricket club tick. Those that simply pack their bag after a day and head home are missing out on the total cricketing experience. This is where you really get to know one another and form the friendships that can last a lifetime. After a few hours of kicking back and having a yarn with everyone I leave with the impression that the Macleod Cricket Club is headed in the right direction – a great feeling knowing my kids will hopefully one day forge their own cricketing adventure here.


When we moved to Macleod last year I didn’t know what to expect. I was optimistic that the local cricket club would contain good people and the right environment for my kids to hopefully fall in love with the game. I didn’t envisage ever pulling on the whites for the club (at that stage this whole adventure wasn’t even in the pipeline).


Today confirmed everything I had hoped for. A club where cricketing veterans lend a hand to educate tomorrows stars and a place where you can go and unwind after a hard days cricket (with success or failure) to enjoy a bit of quality banter and cricketing conversation. It is a simple formula, but one not to be taken for granted. I’m looking forward to being part of the Macleod Cricket Club community for many years to come. Given Jack is 7, I dare say I’ll pull on the whites again at 50 to lend him a hand – Can’t wait!


To find out more on the adventure visit www.aviewofaustraliafromfineleg.com


More from Craig HERE




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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. Loving this journey, Craig.
    Also liked the moment of realisation that you were playing for your son’s club (and not the other way around!)

  2. craig dodson says

    Thanks Smokie, appreciate the support

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