Almanac XI primed

by ‘Straight Break’

Members of The Almanac XI made their way to the old Brunswick St Oval cricket nets last Sunday, and put in a strong session, in preparation for the much-anticipated fixture against Overland this coming Sunday. Peter Flynn put his captaincy aspirations in jeopardy by not turning up, while Gigs Gigacz served his cause admirably by bringing a kit from the Clifton Hill CC. Gideon Haigh ensured he’d have a place in the side by providing additional balls, one of which may well have been taken, temporarily, from a cabinet in the MCC Museum.

While it took some time to coax anyone in to padding up, eventually all reticence was dissipated in the pock pock of two fully-functioning nets.

Overland will do well to match this mob.

Burly Tim Ivins batted in the time-honoured fashion of the burly cricketer whose entire career has been played as an indoor exponent of the game. He faced burly Craig Down whose tweakers landed reasonably well, albeit delivered with a nineteenth century action. Burly Phil Dimitriades, who will play for the opponent on Sunday, looked lively, and troubled Ivins early.

Burly Tim Ivins took the bit between the teeth and pressed for a top-order position. That he is an unconventional batsman may help him among this lot. He swishes the blade like it is the switch of a madame in Soho, carving fullish deliveries outside the leg stump square on the off-side, without effort. Unencumbered by the constraints of traditional technique he has eschewed the leg glance (a liability in indoor cricket), and the flick off the pads, in favour of the arc between backward point and point. He is the ultimate cricketing voyeur, self-possessed in needing to see where he’s hit the damn thing.

Burly John Butler looked like he had played the game before. By thetime Burly JB took guard, the Winfield-fitness of  burly Phil Dimitriades had sucked some of the zing from his accurate deliveries, but Litza Little had arrived and was sending them through in a way that had all batsmen hurrying their prods.

Burly Craig Down prodded well, holding his forward defence until it was noticed by the 38 year old mother of four looking through the curtains of a double-fronter on Freeman St. Selectors also noticed the way he jumped on to the back foot to cut in a style which invoked the spirit of the Don himself.

Burly John Butler also looked to have a sound technique. His refusal to fall to the off-side when whipping through wide mid-on suggested significant physical strength in the face of gravity, and put him one step ahead of the Test captain. However, unburly Gideon Haigh, bowling in to a breeze which for a while looked like it might blow him over, troubled burly Butler who had a tendency to be well through his shot as the ball was arriving, or still thinking about his shot, to the one that hurried on to his middle peg. Tom Riordan also enjoyed the breeze. His over-the-top leggies had lovely shape and turned and bounced, troubling all those who faced him.

Burly Neil Belford trundled his left-armers and then did enough with the bat (and the computer mouse) to ensure that he is the first picked in any Almanac side.

Burly Harms underwent a vigorous fitness test. Burly Harms has a broken toe, the result of a freak accident. It went undiagnosed for three weeks. When asked how it happened, the burly all-rounder was forced to explain, “Sometimes, when working late, I will crack open a few beers. The Handicapper is not impressed with this. The other night I wrote from midnight until about 3 in the morning, during which time I had four stubbies. While sneaking the empties past the kitchen window the next morning, I slipped on the wet courtyard and caught my toe on the corner of a brick paver. Those who have broken a toe would have recognized the guttural roar that was at that moment emitted involuntarily, not to mention the crashing of four XXXX Gold stubbies hitting the deck. The Handicapper diagnosed a dislocation and delighted in standing over me, grabbing the toe, and putting it back in place. It was at that point she changed her diagnosis and said she thought it was broken because it moved each time she changed the direction of the pull. It’s nice to know that I can still put a smile on The Handicapper’s face.”

Bowling in thongs and with one eye on young Theo (who was belting a plastic golf ball with his green driver in the fourth net), Burly Harms was more proppy than he otherwise would have been.

He was immediately ruled out.

Haigh batted with the new-found confidence he has developed this season. Recently, he played a masterful five-hour innings in 40-degree heat which left him suffering (as one prominent Melbourne lawyer who was passing Como at the time described) delirium. “He was either delirious or just running a lot of his team-mates out,” said the silk.

Gigs also impressed. He had been warning his team-mates for weeks that his action was ‘Tangles-like’ and it is now evident that was a completely appropriate warning. I think there must be a gene for this style of delivery: that holding of the action on the back-foot, two arms in the air like a pre-season goal umpire signaling a nine-pointer, and bringing arm and foot through together.

This is a recipe for late in-swing, and given the right conditions on Sunday, Gigs and Litza may be hard to handle.

Dave Goodwin was unable to train, but has snuck out for a net with the Yarras earlier that week, and David Bridie will no doubt draw on his eternalish youth.

All looks good for a tremendous event, to which all are invited.

The Almanac XI v Overland for the Jack Clancy Trophy

Sunday, 20 Feb, from midday

Gillon Oval, Brunswick

Drinks and snags on sale

Or bring a picnic


  1. Hope to make it – though with all those burly blokes there, the view of the ground may be hindered somewhat.

  2. Nicely written, I could clearly visualise every ball…..and every bone broken

  3. We use a lot of burley when we go squidding at Rocky Cape.

    The squid goes well if rings are cooked in bread crumbs and hot olive oil within 30 minutes of being liberated from the burley brine and taken with a glass (or two) of Murrindindi 2005 Don’t Tell Dad Riesling as an Hors D’oeuvre

    Speaking of cricket did any one happen to get the score between the Tas vs Vic Shield match? I think I heard that the Vics got Baileyed.

    Good luck Knackers. Don’t let us down. There’s no pressure through expectation, what so ever.

  4. Cricinfo’s player profiles have nothing compared to this. Outstanding work.

  5. John Butler says

    We’ll be alright, provided all those burly blokes can recover within a week.

    That may still be in question.

    Anyone keeping an eye on the weather?

  6. Phil Dimitriadis says


    my wife Dina read this and cracked up laughing. She could identify with your description of her husband’s ‘Winfield fitness’:Starts well, tails off a little in the middle and the less said about the end the better.

  7. Partly Cloudy and 23 with a strong breeze. So we’re looking good. As a fail safe shall we look into an Indoor game? Or shall we just retire to the North Fitzroy Arms and talk about the 50’s and earthshattering catches that were stolen away from us by Mother Nature’s fickle whimsy?

  8. Forecast for Sunday: 23 with a burly shower or two.

  9. Could it be possible that there will be Village People there considering the pressence of so many burly boys

  10. overland snout says

    Word from Overland captain, N. Hollier:

    “Bit unsporting of them to be training. Funny piece though.”

  11. Applying the most rigorous standards of academia to this comment would suggest the premise on which it is based is highly contentious. There is no evidence in the burly lives of these cricketers, over the statitistically significant last ten years, to suggest training improves performance. The most cursory of glances at the emails doing the rounds on Monday and Tuesday would suggest that the net in fact have been a hindrance.

  12. #10. Is it not the case that one of our trainers will in fact be lining up in the Overland XI?

  13. Blog 10 is an indication that they are closely monitoring and worried.

    Will it be a bigger fixture than Aust vs Zims on Sunday?

  14. overland snout says

    I received this cryptic message.

    Will son’s defection affect players? Will it be making news or will Australia remain united after breakfast?

  15. Andrew Fithall says

    Just noted that The Overland website is down and has been for some time. Own up. Who did it?

  16. John Butler says

    Just softening them up AF. :)

  17. John Butler says

    Shouldn’t really joke about these things should we. We could be next.

    Perhaps they have connections to Borders.

  18. They are in ‘cone of silence’ mode. Loose lips sink ships.

    Obviously they are up to something tricky and they are even throwing grenades from within our site.

    Call to arms Knackers.

    And do we have a mole?

  19. Has said mole crashed the Overland website? It’s down for ‘maintenance’ atm.

  20. Current forecast: 22 degC, Cloudy with a “Shower or two”.
    Typical cricket weather for Melbourne this summer.

  21. Good luck with the game lads. I have another booking in my calander otherwise I would be there, up in the terrace, behind the bowler’s arm.


  22. I do not mean this to be overly smulchy or sentimental. However, in this posting I want to highlight what I feel the match on Sunday conveys about how the Almanacer fraternity has developed beyond a sharing of anecdotes and ideas among like minded people to something stronger, perhaps a village. This is a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson entitled ‘Friendship’. It is my way of geeing up the Almanac XI to go out and crush those book reading Overlanders. And while I won’t be there in person, I’ll be there in spirit. Here is Emerson’s poem, ‘Friendship’:

    A ruddy drop of manly blood
    The surging sea outweighs,
    The world uncertain comes and goes,
    The lover rooted stays.
    I fancied he was fled,
    And, after many a year,
    Glowed unexhausted kindliness
    Like daily sunrise there.
    My careful heart was free again, —
    O friend, my bosom said,
    Through thee alone the sky is arched,
    Through thee the rose is red,
    All things through thee take nobler form,
    And look beyond the earth,
    And is the mill-round of our fate
    A sun-path in thy worth.
    Me too thy nobleness has taught
    To master my despair;
    The fountains of my hidden life
    Are through thy friendship fair.

    And remember, it’s only a game.


  23. Overland Snout says

    que? — though I did like the line about the rooted lover!

  24. Snout, expect our bowling attack to be just as baffling tomorrow.

  25. Who won?

  26. Overland Snout says

    Phantom — cricket was the winner (or something like cricket). Overland won on the scoreboard and the umpiring was magnificent — ish.

  27. Humbug!

    I’ll bring Boonie accross the Strait next year.

  28. A full scorecard MUST be published.

  29. The warm down is brutal.

    Tried everything including shuffling to Racey’s Lay Your Love On Me.

    Lactic shambles

  30. Flynnie – pre-season starts next week. We’ll start with a slow 10km jog and build up from there. Next year the Overlanders won’t know what hit them!

    I’m still marveling at the ball I got to land on the pitch.

  31. John Butler says

    “Jonty” O’Donnell, at least you showed some agility in the field, unlike myself.

    My new friend Mr Icepack and I are looking at a long week in each others company.

    Flynny, I must admit I’d never considered that particular musical rehab.

  32. The loss is disasterous to the Knacker image.

    Heads need to roll. New people into key positions.

    Ricky Nixon as manager and Fev as captain for a start.

  33. And Derrin Hinch should be brought in to name names.

  34. Phantom – we need a sponsor so we can at least LOOK like cricketers. That will fix everything. I’m thinking the “Borders Bookstore Knackers”

  35. Dips,

    there may be an opportunity for an alliance with Angus and Robertson.

  36. I cant walk anymore. nuff said. am still waiting for the two lbw decisions we are owed. The Age not leading with the furore surrounding the Flynn decision in this mornings paper is a travesty

  37. As captain I made a post-match offer to fall on my sword but was advised that my penance is that I must continue as captain until we win a match.

    Implementing Dips’ pre-season strategy suggested in comment #30 would be a good start.

    A fully fit J.T. Harms batting at 5 or 6 might have made the difference.

    On a more serious note, it was a great day, played in a great spirit and as Overland Snout says, cricket was indeed the winner. Although I think David B is correct and we will have two LBWs owing at the start of next year’s game.

  38. #36. David, I think if it hadn’t been for the activties of Messrs Nixon and Fevola, the Age would have indeed led with that story.

    Very well bowled an batted, by the way. Your shot to get off the mark was the best shot of the day by a long way. As Flynny said to me (after our 7th or 8th beer), “Bridie’s was the shot of the day. Daylight was second.”

  39. glad you guys hung around for a few more beers…i was tempted but was driving.twas a top day all round.As for nixon and fevola…bloody media hogs the both of em..was mightily impressed with your bowling efforts as wellbtw,twas a fair opening combination we had.

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