Almamac cricket – A view of Australia from fine leg: Match 6, Sheffield Cricket Club, 21 December 2019

Craig Dodson’s piece on match 6 of the adventure at Sheffield Cricket Club in Tasmania last weekend.


Some days on the cricket field just flat out suck! Everything you, and your team, tries to do simply doesn’t work. Every cricketer knows the feeling. The game is meandering to an inevitable loss, the sun is burning another suspicious brown spot on my balding forehead and I’m longingly gazing at the nearby beach, wondering why I’m choosing to be here rather than catching a wave? Why do we as cricketers choose to endure such days?


The day started with much promise. A decade ago, I married a proud Tasmanian girl and every second year we spend Christmas in Tassie. It has become a second home. My sister-in-law lives nearby to Sheffield and every time I am in town I have driven past the cricket ground, which has the majestic Mount Roland as a backdrop. It was an easy choice to include the club in my project.


Sheffield lies about 20km from Devonport on the north-west coast of Tasmania. This is farming country, however, the town has also carved itself a valuable piece of the tourism trade as the Mural Capital of Australia – in the 1980s the town looked to murals as a way of attracting tourists, and today over 200,000 flock annually to Sheffield to see the beautiful artwork. A town that saw an opportunity and went for it!


Today I am playing an away game for the seconds at West Park Oval in Burnie. Upon arrival I am greeted by one of the best cricket grounds I have ever set foot on. A beautiful lush outfield is primed for the iconic Burnie sports carnival (cycling, running, woodchopping) in a few days. An electronic scoreboard, sightscreens and large grandstands are other luxuries usually not befitting club cricketing warriors like myself. The nearby beach completes the beautiful picture.


We lose the toss and are inserted in to bat. The absurdity of the game of cricket is highlighted early when our stroke-playing skipper Adam, who is coming off a brilliant 98 last week, goes second ball. In the form of your life one week and then seven days later you are kicking the dirt – cricket makes no sense at times. You can never get ahead of the game, as it is always waiting to give you a swift kick up the arse, just when you dare to think you may have its number.


The wickets start falling in quick succession and I’m soon at the crease with the electronic scoreboard reading 4 for bugger all. Coming off a decent knock in Brisbane last weekend, I stride to the crease with a level of confidence not seen this campaign. The leggie drops one short and I am off and running.


Next over I momentarily gaze at the electronic scoreboard to see my name in lights. Just as delusions of grandeur are kicking in, I am late on the ball from the swift quickie (bowling with the aid of a 200km breeze!) and drag an inside edge onto the stumps. I’m finding the body is operating that fraction of a second slower at 41 (my excuse and I’m sticking to it) and I’m making mistakes I didn’t do in my prime.


As I momentarily hover at the crease and wonder if I can pull the plug on the now ‘hated’ electronic scoreboard the quickie gets within nose hair distance and interjects to tell me: ‘Yes, its bowled, **** off!’


I ponder for another second. In my younger days I would have perhaps stayed a few more seconds and ‘continued the discussion’. With age comes the loss of hair, the ability to make a weird grunting noise when lowering into chairs and perspective. Just tuck the bat under the arm old son and head back to the pavilion. Nothing to see here.


The wickets keep falling like dominoes and we are bundled out for a little over 100 – Just one of those days where some errors of judgement, bad luck and good bowling combine to dash your hopes of a fruitful Saturday in the sun.


Adam rallies the troops in the break and we give it a red-hot crack early, to reduce Burnie to 4 for not many. Perhaps we are a chance? For the third time this season I put down a hot chance (at least I tell myself it was tough).


Any hope of a comeback is snuffed out by some disciplined batting from the Burnie middle order. The straight breaks fail to make any dents in the opposition and the game crawls to the inevitable loss.


Days like this are inevitable in cricket. You can’t have success without having the fortitude to work through a few stinkers every now and then. The match is played in good spirits across the teams.


The on-field action is just a snippet of what makes up the ‘cricketing experience’. The total story is of the laughs on the bus trip to and from the game, the dressing room banter, the opportunity to play with mates who are just back for Christmas, and catching up for a few beers and tall tales into the night. There is so much to be taken from the game than just what happens inside the white picket fence.


By the time we arrive back at Sheffield Cricket Club HQ, things are in full swing. Santa is racing around the oval, sirens blazing, in a CFA truck, before dispensing presents to gleeful youngsters. Cricketers past and present swap yarns, and families talk about plans for Christmas. You would love to bottle the sense of community that the Sheffield Cricket Club has created.


I have a good chat with club President Peter King – the type of bloke every cricket club needs. One minute behind the bar, the next he is donning the umpires hat to go and officiate the women’s 20/20 match which is about to start.


I talk cricket with club coach Marc Simonds – I later find out (through another source) that he was good enough to have a Tasmanian rookie contract a few years back. Marc is simply proud of the fact his partner is out playing in the women’s 20/20 match and that the juniors are in good shape. To have a cricketer of his pedigree putting something back into community cricket at the coalface is brilliant.


I get up and say a few words about my adventure. The audience is fantastic and I’m approached by several club members afterwards who want to chat about mental health – either their own experience or that of a friend. The chats are honest and raw. The positive attitude and willingness of those at this club (and others around the country) to talk about mental health shows how much we are moving forward in this Country. We raise over $450 for Gotcha4Life.


Make no mistake, it was a tough day on the field, yet the great game of cricket gives us so much more than what simply happens inside the white picket fence. To be successful in cricket you have to take the good with the bad and do it with a smile on your face. I wish I had got to this point 20 years ago.


My day at the Sheffield Cricket Club will long be remembered for the great chats over a beer, the opportunity to play on a beautiful cricket ground, the look of awe on the kids faces when they saw Santa and the opportunity to see all that is great about a community cricket club. I loved my day and the joys of cricket outside the white picket fence. I will be back for Christmas in two years and may just pack the whites again!


Read Craig’s other match reports 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. Craig ahh cricket the great leveler and I may take some beating having carried my bat making,178 no and a pair in the same season keep up the great work mate

  2. Craig,
    I am just loving following this journey which you have embarked upon.
    Best of all, it seems like you are having a blast!

  3. craig dodson says

    Malcolm, can’t say i ever reached the dizzying heights of 178 mate!

    Thanks Smokie, yep it is the adventure of a lifetime.

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