Almanac Cricket: First game of cricket

 

For the past two Friday evenings I have had the pleasure watching my 13 year old grandson Ben play in his first competitive cricket match in the local Under 14 competition.

 

Ben is very keen on his cricket and from what I have witnessed  he has enormous potential to become a very good cricketer in the future.

 

In the past 12 months or so Ben’s growth spurts are threatening him in becoming the first six footer in our family! But this, of course, is to his advantage. As a left arm bowler with the style of a very  young Mitchell Starc with his bowling action, Ben has a lot ahead of him especially as he gets stronger and his body fills out.

 

Ben took 5 wickets for the match including 3 wickets in 4 balls in a very auspicious debut. Check out wicket number 4. (An excited granddad with the wicket!) He also made a run off the first ball he faced faring a lot better than his grandfather did with his first venture to the crease.

 

I wrote of my experience of my first match in a story for the Footy Almanac a few years ago which is reprised below.

 

 

 

Col in his whites before his first match

 

With the coming of each summer, fond memories are brought to mind, particularly of those salad days from the age of ten when I would eagerly set in place my preparations for the forthcoming cricket season.

 

Firstly, my pocket money would go towards the purchase of the annual ABC Cricket magazine. I would devour the profiles and details of all the current Australian Test players and the potential prospects for inclusion into the Test team for the forthcoming Test series. Of course, there were also the profiles of the players of the touring team. I would spend hours going through all these profiles so I could eventually determine, after much deliberation, my preferred and favorite players whose fortunes I would avidly follow throughout the series. Their successes and failures would be keenly felt by me.

 

And the fantastic thing about the magazine was that it had score sheets at the back of the booklet. I would select my own Test teams, including myself in the Australian team, and play imaginary games using my Test Match game as the means for determining results. Hours were spent in my own little cricket world. Remarkably, I would top both the batting and bowling averages for the season!

 

Secondly, early summer was also a time of practice, to sharpen up my own skills to be the Test cricketer I envisaged myself to be. With my newly purchased Stuart Surridge cricket bat, sold to me by former Test captain Lindsay Hassett at his sports store, I religiously oiled and knocked it in by hitting ball after ball hanging in one of mum’s old stockings tied to the clothes line.

 

“Straight bat, remember straight bat,” I would repeat over and over to myself as the upright bat made contact with the swinging ball.

 

At the time Richie Benaud was my hero and hours were spent ripping my leg spinners at the painted wickets on the back fence to perfect my skill in the art of the great bowler. I wanted to be like him. Dad said practice makes perfect, and practice I must if I was to ever have a chance of fulfilling my dream of playing Test cricket. A carefully mown strip of grass was my pitch and I bowled at those wickets continuously, commentating to myself in the voice of the doyen of cricket commentators, John Arlott.

 

Saturdays were spent watching junior cricket in the morning and the seniors in the afternoon at the Colac Cricket Club down by the lake. It is a beautiful ground and had a typical pavilion with wooden steps that players and spectators would sit on to watch the game.  I placed myself close to the scorer so I could keep up with the details of play.

 

That pavilion later burnt down and was replaced by a more updated one but it never had the same character or history as the old one. The ground had a relaxed feel about it and the appeal, I imagined, of those English village cricket grounds pictured in so many books and magazines  I devoured at the time. It was a dream of mine to play cricket on one of those grounds in England, the birthplace of cricket.

 

So when the cricket season of 1963/64 arrived the 13 year old self  felt well prepared, and I was also old enough to commence playing junior cricket. The excitement when I was selected for my first match was palpable, it overwhelmed me so much that I did not sleep in the lead up to the match.

 

Oh, I remember it well! Going in to bat at number eleven, fifty runs in arrears, I was going to be the match winner. Big Merv Clissold, a huge boy five or six years older than myself, with a run up a mile long charged into bowl, and boy did he look fierce, and a sudden fear overcame me, I hoped he was going to take pity on me as the youngest, smallest player on the field and not bowl too fast at me, but what if he didn’t? Thankfully, the oversized pads provided cover for my shaking legs!

 

You play to win of course, and big Merv let rip with a quick one, too quick for me and bowled me first ball, middle stump, sending it cartwheeling back towards the wicketkeeper. I stood there in complete dismay, first looking at my bat where the big red cherry should have been, then looking back at my missing middle stump, trying hard to hold back my tears wondering if my career as a cricketer was over before it had begun as my opponents whooped it up celebrating their win. I was devastated, cricket wasn’t meant to be like this!

 

I was dropped for the next game to give someone else a game, or so the coach said, but I knew, in reality, I was not good enough at that stage in my career.

 

So it was back to the ABC Cricket magazine and its scorecard for me; hopefully, I could make a century there.

 

 

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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.

Comments

  1. I hear you Colin. The most surprising (and disappointing) event on the planet is being bowled when you are ten.

  2. Yep v similar childhood memories,Colin ( ditto,Mickey )

  3. Peter Crossing says

    Enjoyable read Col. Brought back memories.
    Thanks.

  4. Same here! We had a family bat – just one. The first was a Norm O’Neill – which we got in the late 60s. Second was a Shaw and Shrewsbury. By then we all had odd jobs (I mowed lawns) and could buy our own. I saved up for a SS short handle – because Viv used one. My brother had a beautiful Gray-Nich – pre-scoop. Another brother got a single scoop when they first came out. Then I got a Duncan Fearnley.

    Cricket nerves are a particular type of nerves.

  5. A really enjoyable read.
    Many of us share very similar experiences.
    Thanks Col.

  6. Bruce Mayberry says

    Very good Colin, but I know you learnt from that and became a pretty handy cricketer, especially on the turning tracks between the vans at Lorne.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Love the story, great photo of a young C.Ritchie.
    Would really like to see a photo of the old Lake Oval pavillion. As all of my career has been in a neighboring cricket association, I have only played one game at the Lake Oval, captaining Camperdown High School in a match against Colac High School in about 1995 I think.
    The new white fence looks great around the ground, add a turf wicket and it would be a magnificent venue.
    Actually bought this season’s ABC cricket book this morning, at least some things never change!

  8. Great story, Col. Brought back memories of my inglorious career with Colac West juniors coached by Athol Jones. Peter McCoombe and …..Morrow where the openers. I was a slogger and a reasonable fast bowler. Irrewillipe was a good team and made up of just about all the Osborne family. Dad was the coach also. Trevor Chitty coached us for a short while also, he was a very fast bowler in the style of Thomson. Later Gerry Garner of the Colac Drive In fame, coached us. The Schott’s also played for West as did Murray McCoombe for my first year.

  9. Well played Ben.

    Nice to be reminded of your story Col. Fear is a big part of junior cricket – and probably most cricket. Nothing like the prospect of facing genuine pace.

  10. Fair bit of potential,Ben and loved the enthusiastic supporting,Colin.I can hear,Dizzy use that front arm,Ben pull the toilet chain ( wouldn’t mind a dollar for each time I heard,Dizz say that but it’s a perfect description

  11. CITRUS BOB says

    Don’t know whether it brought back good memories or bad for me Col! No juniors in my day one had to be in the one team or watch on. Played my first season in the one and only team and played every game mainly running from fine leg to fine leg at the end of each over but I didn’t mind at least I was playing. Come the finals and who got dropped with the excuse from the skipper “you will have plenty of chances to play in the finals”. I never did until I moved clubs and vowed and declared I would never drop a player who played all year for someone who happens to play in the latter part of the season only. The same year I played every game of football in the seniors and you guessed it dropped for the fianls with the same excuse!

  12. Luke Reynolds says

    Very much a Starc like action! All the best to Ben in his cricket journey.

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