Almanac Cricket: Run Out


My mum was born in 1930 in the front room of the family home on Sydenham Road, Marrickville.



Veronica O’Neill played cricket with the boys on Silver Street. Held her own. She ran barefoot. Everywhere.



My mum loved cricket.



Watched a lot of it. Understood it. Booed Freddie Trueman when he bounced Norman O’Neill and then bowed to the SCG Members. Loved the drama. The fast bowler to the attacking batsman. The batter prepared to use their feet to the spinner.



The last time I took her to a Test, high in the Bradman, she admired the Barmy Army. A stupendously hungover backpacker said to me: ‘Can your mum hear what they’re actually singing?’



‘Yes, I can’ she said.



On the way home she said to me ‘I could sit there for five days.’



Veronica kept an immaculate scorebook. HB pencil, red and blue. Works of art. Don’t talk to her at the fall of a wicket. Never ask how much a batsman is on.



Drove everyone home. Took the coir mats in the Datsun 120Y once with three kids in the car.



Don’t ask her what the batsman is on.



On Saturday I sat in a chair just beyond deep cover. Alone.



The opposing batsman hits the ball, her grandson moves from gully to point and picks up the ball in his right hand.






The batsmen are running.



As he rises, he gathers and sets himself.



HB pencil, red and blue.



Don’t ask the batsman’s score.



Coir mats in the 120Y.



Can she hear what they’re singing?



Norman O’Neill. Fred Trueman.



Vincent O’Brien.






One stump.



Direct hit.






At deep cover I say to Veronica O’Neill.



‘Did you see our boy?’



‘Don’t talk to me at the fall of a wicket.’





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  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Thanks for sharing your cracking yarn about your mum Neill; she’s some lady!

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Like this, Neill!

    Thanks for posting the piece – a little ‘left of centre’ is a good approach!

  3. Gerard Reed says

    I suspect an orange 120Y

  4. roger lowrey says

    Hey Neill,

    I rather imagine she would explode if some well meaning passer by looked over her shoulder and innocently enquired “who’s winning?”

    Love your story.


  5. Whilst we’re talking run outs. Rumour has it that when the great LES FAVELL was playing district cricket for East Torrens all those years ago he was always anxious to score quickly nd hated to se his opening partner bogged down.This of course meant less time for Les to belt his numerous boundaries. Les, being captain, wold tell the culprit to either start scoring or Les would run him out. I believe he kept his promise more than once..

  6. Absolutely brilliant, Neill.
    Just loved this. Thanks.

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