Almanac Old Buggers’ Indoor Cricket: The Boos of The Fishermen

The Fishermen are a bunch of wily old fellas who have been frequenting inner-city indoor cricket centres for the last quarter of a century, beguiling much younger opponents with experience and know-how, winning more games than they lose. The squad includes a couple of Almanackers, Matt Quartermaine (aka Flounder) and Damian Callinan (Plankton).

Gigs is a relative newcomer to the team, joining the squad a couple of years ago as Garfish. Very much welcomed into the side from the start, Gigs developed a great rapport with his teammates. But on Monday night something happened. There was an incident. One that will haunt Gigs in a way that few know. SK Warne knows. But not many others do. So racked was Gigs that he was moved to post to Facebook as he wrestled with his pillow, futilely seeking sleep. Here’s what he wrote.

I need to get something off my chest, to give me some small chance of getting to sleep tonight. Damian Callinan, cricketer extraordinaire, should tonight be a man with a hat trick against his name. Because of me, he is not.

Damo had taken two wickets in two balls with his scintillating spin, his tricky turners, his deceptive darts. On the third ball, he deceived the batsman once more with his devilry. The mesmerised striker pushed and prodded, perilously. His misguided attempt at mastering Damo’s magic produced no more than gentle lob in the air.

The ball rose off the bat, then dipped. As it almost reached the floor, I got a hand to it. I managed to get three – maybe four – fingers under the ball. It rolled toward the palm of my hand, and then rolled back along my fingers and out of my grasp, the barely audible sound of it gently hitting the carpet like a clap of thunder in the silence as the other players looked on, without breathing.

We won the game; trounced them we did. Oh how we laughed and drank and celebrated victory. But I saw the tears in Damo’s eyes as we guffawed, imbibed and cheered. I sensed his emptiness and I, too, felt its cold, heartless touch wash over me.

I am the reason Damo remains a man in search of his first hat trick. I will sleep tonight, but it will be the restless sleep of a man who has let his teammate – his comrade – down. There will be no dreams, only nightmares. The sun will rise tomorrow but it will shine coldly on my skin. I will walk the walk of a man who has let down his fellow man.

One day, a hat trick may come Damo’s way. Then – maybe then – he might forgive me. Until that moment, I’ll be as empty as he is. Sure, I’ll smile on the outside but the tears will well within me as I do, knowing I have wronged him so.

Such is the burden of the man who drops the hat trick catch.

That burden unloading allowed Gigs some sleep –  fitful, uneasy.  He was awoken at 4:10am, by the need to visit the loo after one too many beers at post-game clubhouse. Or so he thought. In fact it was Facebook that was calling him. For Damian had responded to his statement of guilt. And Damian hadn’t quite seen the events of the evening as Gigs had. Here is Damian’s version of how the awful, unfortunate scene unfolded.

An hour ago in attempt to assuage his guilt Andrew Gigacz wrote a post declaring his sorrow at his role in denying me my first hat trick in any form of cricket. He in fact cut short our post match celebrations in order to get home and post his clouded version of events before I could state my case. I had intended to let the matter rest at Cod’s ‘Club House’ kitchen table where all matters of ‘The Fishermen’ are settled amicably but Gigs chose to make the matter public so I have been forced against my will to reveal the true events that unfolded this very night at ‘Action Sports Indoor Cricket Centre’ in Footscray.

I’m a gloveman so my chances to bowl in competitive cricket have been minimal and that has suited me just fine. I’ve never felt the need to be considered a craftsman at all aspects of the game. A handy keeper and a capable batsman is all I’ve ever wanted to be. But indoor cricket requires all players to have a crack at batting and bowling so 2 out of every 12 overs I have to throw the gloves to someone else and roll the arm over. This is a threat to the likes of Gigs who feel their craft of bowling is undermined by every one getting to have a go at the domain they believe to be theirs and theirs alone. Until tonight I had thought Gigs to be one of his brethren who had taken a deep breath and let it go: sadly this proved not to be the case.

Wicket-keeping is my first love but snaring the odd wicket stirs the competitive beast within and I enjoy my ‘novelty’ 12 balls a match but I’m always keen to jog back down to the other end and get the gloves back on, always remembering to smile at the person who has filled in and missed a stumping off my bowling.

In recent weeks I’ve had a bit of luck with the ball and my bowling figures have been on the improve. Tonight with the team chasing a solid but gettable total I was thrown the ball by our redoubtable captain Spider Crab.

The first ball was the classic ‘batsman thinking the keeper can’t bowl’ and a wild swing produced a lucky run. The second ball was hit hard and low back at me and I caught it millimetres above the ground proving my reflexes are not ‘glove dependent.’ The next ball may have looked like a rank full toss but the late dipping in-swinger would have troubled a slightly better batman than the one wielding willow at the other end. The next ball moved away from the struggling axeman and he poked at it. The ball lobbed into the air and the team collectively held its breath as it travelled in an inevitable arc towards Gigs. His weight was back on his heels but he still reached the ball in time to take the simplest of catches but for reasons that none of us there on this night will ever know, he batted the ball away like a wasp from a coke can. It became obvious to everyone present that he simply couldn’t abide a wicketkeeper, untrained at the craft of bowling, succeeding at such a high level while his own ‘dibbly dobbers’ got smacked all around the court.

We were all gobsmacked but for the good of team morale I smiled at Gigs and absolved him from feeling any guilt. The next ball similarly bamboozled the batsman and he hit it straight to Scalesy, who took a fine catch. I stole a glance at Gigs as all around me realised that I had now in fact been denied the even rarer honour of snaring a ‘Double Hat Trick’ … the half smile that curled from his mouth said it all.

Whose version is true? Gigs firmly believes his, while Damo steadfastly holds to his viewpoint. Will this sad, unfortunate episode threaten the very existence of a proud team? Only time will tell. The days leading into next Monday night’s fixture will surely be some of the uneasiest ever faced by the Fishermen

 

 

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

Comments

  1. Damian Callinan says:

    It’s worth noting that in the post match wash up Gigs and I finished on an equal aggregate. Thus we were locked together on 2 votes in the ‘Fishlow’ voting. despite all that transpired I magnanimously deferred the votes to him.

  2. What Damian says – at least in the comment above – is indeed true and his act of magnanimity added further weight to the burden of my guilt on Monday night.

  3. Dave Brown says:

    I think we need the uncoached perspective off all the other players so we can fully study the Rashomon effect of this dropped catch.

    My best mate at school dropped in the covers my one and only hattrick ball.. At least he had the decency to rock up to school on the Monday with his hand strapped up to show how the gentle lob had been so difficult to catch

  4. In fact, Dave, I could have posted an x-ray of my currently healing broken thumb as evidence of my heroism in the catching attempt. But I didn’t, because I, too, am capable of magnanimous acts – and also because the broken thumb is on the opposite hand to the one that spilled the ball.

  5. Even though I haven’t graced an indoor cricket court for years, I do know that any catch is difficult to take, even when I was generally a first slip fielder in outdoor games! I’d be more guilty to be honest if I was responsible for several run outs in a batting pair that costs a skin that costs a finals birth.

  6. POST SCRIPT
    Tonight’s match saw Damo play what would have been the shot of the night had it not been brilliantly caught to give the opposition a ‘team’ hat trick. Damo’s long, cold, hard stare at me after the ball was taken was silent but knew exactly what he was thinking: “That’s how you deal with a hat trick catch.”

    Fortunately the Fishermen soon after recorded a magnificent ‘victory from the jaws of defeat’ win and the tension had well and truly subsided (at least for now) by the time we reached ‘clubhouse’.

  7. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great stuff Gigs & Damian. I suspect once Damian’s heartbreak subsides he’ll be pleased to have that over you Gigs.
    Like you guys love my Monday night indoor cricket and the banter that goes with it.

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