Almanac (Backyard) Cricket: Queensland conditions

JJ Leahy Christmas 1

The Bank Road Test was played at the traditional backyard venue. The ground was mowed by Groundsman Dominic a few days earlier. He left a generous cover of grass on the wicket. Dominic remarked: ” We do not doctor the wickets around here. We are not the English or the Indians.”

 

Earlier in the day, there was speculation as to whether the Test would actually be played. An extremely large carpet python was found sprawled across the driveway at the front entrance to the ground. Local experts judged it to be the biggest carpet snake seen in this vicinity in living memory. It was estimated to be around three metres long and very thick.

 

Its sighting attracted the attention of some of the neighbours who gathered under the poinciana tree on the front footpath to share a pitcher of Pimms, and observe the serpent.

JJ Leahy Christmas cricket 2

 

Shortly thereafter, there was a call from the playing field that another carpet python, albeit smaller at around 2 metres, had positioned itself at a deep cover, near the off side boundary. This snake retired under the neighbour’s fence and disappeared under a tree stump about half a metre from the fence. The umpires declared the ground fit for play.

 

JJ Leahy Christmas cricket 3

 

Lunch was taken, and when the heat of the day had abated a little, play got underway.

 

Dominic – He regularly plays backyard cricket at a residence in the hilly inner Brisbane suburb of Paddington. He opened the batting and drove the ball strongly. In his second innings, he hoisted the last ball of the day over the house and deep into the neighbour’s yard. Those of you familiar with the height of the house in relation to the pitch will comprehend that this was indeed a big hit. Not as good as Viv Richard’s great tonk over the old Clem Jones Stand into Stanley Street when playing for Queensland in the 70s, or Adam Gilchrist’s wonderful shots against the Poms at The WACA, but still a good strike of the ball.

 

The Bank Road field has a bigger slope than Lord’s, and Dominic took a tumble chasing a ball and rolled down the embankment ending up in the drain at the bottom of the yard. Before the match, he had fortified himself with a liberal quantity of James Boag’s Premium Lager, and played on in spite of a bleeding knee.

 

Majella – There was much speculation how the left arm tearaway would perform. Initially, she was too short and wide, but then settled to bowl with genuine pace and accuracy reminiscent of those days in the All Hallows First XI and Western Suburbs Junior Girls teams. Her batting has not improved. The swing hard at every ball might be a tactic in a T20 match, but in a backward Test with your brothers bowling, it is a few quick runs and you’re out.

 

Dave – This was Dave’s Bank Road Test debut. He handled it well, and shows great promise. Dave has a crouched stance and an unorthodox grip on the handle, but like Steve Smith, he presents the full face of the bat. He drives strongly in the arc between cover and mid-wicket in a manner adopted by Greg Chappell for the first 20 or 30 runs of an innings.

 

Dave explained that where he learnt his backyard cricket did not allow for behind the wicket shots, so the cut and hook are not part of his game.

 

Dave did a passable imitation of Ian Healy with a catch and a stumping.

 

Terry – She has an aggressive front foot batting style. Her cross bat swinging approach means that most shots go to mid wicket or mid on. It is obvious that Majella has inherited her batting technique, and attacking style from her mother.

 

Terry misread a well-flighted off spinner from John and nicked a top edge to the keeper where it was snaffled by Dave.

 

Patrick – Patrick drives the ball very well, and looked good until he lofted one over the fence and was out in accordance with the first law of backyard cricket.

 

He bowled a couple of good spells after being a little rusty early, and took the catch of the day to get two hands to a strongly hit shot at short mid wicket.

 

John – The oldest player on the field and it showed. A bit slow in the field, although he did hold a catch at short cover. His timing was off with the bat, and Patrick bowled him with a well pitched inswinger that went straight through him and took the leg stump.

 

John bowled a tidy spell of off spin and an occasional leggie to capture Terry’s wicket and tie Dave down for a while. The absence of the doosra may indicate that arthritis is impacting on his effectiveness.

 

John also sledged repeatedly, something that he never did in his earlier playing career, or which he strictly banned as a coach.

This is a sign of a player well past his best.

 

Summary:

Snakes aside, a very enjoyable game.

 

Comments

  1. Great stuff, JJ.
    How good is backyard cricket ??

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