Playing at the MCG

Malmsbury Cricket Ground it all its glory

Malmsbury Cricket Ground it all its glory

My mate Bonefish asked me to play for his cricket team he captains, the Malmsbury 2nds at the MCG; the Malmsbury Cricket Ground. Boney and I have played indoor cricket together for The Fishermen (Greatest team in the history of sport, but that’s another story) for 25 years. My outdoor cricket pedigree is in the backyard with my brothers (Games room concertina door on the full is out), a couple of double wicket comps for Karrinyup juniors (my brother’s team) and annually in the Actors versus Writers cricket match for 20 years. I haven’t played any outdoor cricket for a few years since the Actors team informed us they were going to give some of the younger actors a go, thus proving sport reflects life. So I bought a cheap pair of cream dacks, a wide brimmed Gray Nicholls hat and headed down the Calder Freeway crying out “Miranda” as I passed Hanging Rock.

Malmsbury is a blink and miss it stretch of shops with a fine pie bakery that I give a miss to make it on time. I’m not a country boy. I get nervous if I don’t have twenty pubs to choose from in walking distance, but the languid pace of country cricket game can’t help calm even the most frazzled nerves. The Malmsbury Cricket Ground is ringed by shady trees (I took a picture so you nature lovers could discuss them amongst yourselves) with the footy goals still standing at the mid-off and mid-on boundaries under a cloudless blue sky. I met some of my team mates, including Dad Six Kids whose four boys were helping to fill the numbers of the team. Our opposition, Kyneton Seconds (or Thirds, no one was sure) also had non cricketing mates and younglings to make the numbers. It was going to be a relaxed and casual game judging by the general lack of athletic bodies taking the field.

I barely wake from my cruise control zone when I’m thrust into the scorer’s chair. Since the only guys who knew how to do the scorebook were opening pair, first drop, the umpire and the bloke sitting next to me, Boney thought I could handle it. Scoring consists of each team’s scorebook being filled out as the game progresses.  I’m not one for remembering names and when I meet twenty odd people in a day there’s going to be a lot of” mates” as name substitutes. I asked Tanned Mate sitting next to me if he’d done the scorebook before, and when he said yes I replied “Good, it’ll be just like school and I can copy off the bloke next to me.”

At first it was cricket Morse code; Dot, dot, circled dot, dot, circled “W”, X. You have to watch every ball and surprisingly it didn’t bore me; it enlightened me to the rhythm of a cricket match. I watched each ball as it happened, marking it down moment by moment. Cricket is a measured, precise organism that feeds on detail. Minute, fascinating detail. Scoring the batsman, crossing the total score off, and then marking the ball in the tiny bowler’s box, my hand cascaded in a dogleg down the page and back up again. The “clunk, kerthunk” of a young boy hitting a cricket ball against the red brick change room wall and half volleying it back became my mantra and I reached a place of Zen. Living in the moment. Ball after ball. No traffic hum in the background. Dot. The cloudless blue skies over people playing. Dot. My Zen state was only broken by Bonefish, ever the educator, teaching some of the younger members of the team a few new words over the clatter of his bat skidding across the cement change room floor.

I had to stop feeding my scorebook Jones to pad up at eighth drop. I strode across the bare outfield, the blazing sun conjuring vivid memories of my last innings for the Actors team in similar conditions. Decked in full cricket clobber including helmet, combined with the extra yardage to run a single on a full length pitch, along with my inability to hit a boundary near killed me, so I retired early. Bonefish duly recorded me as retired “puffed”. I spent my first over thinking “just block, you’ve got plenty of time” then doing a fresh air Pete Townshend impersonation. At the end of the over team mate Dad Six Kids, who was umpiring at the time, suggested I move my feet. “I’m in the team for my bowling” I replied. I cobbled together 19 not out in a total of 220 runs, but it wasn’t my highlight. Late in my innings I batted with one of Dad Six Kids offspring, a slight 12 year old decked out in the full batting kit. As he made his way to the pitch, Dad Six Kids told his boy to listen to him and he’d tell him when to run, while he was umpiring no less. “No,” I interjected, “Listen to me, your batting partner and I’ll tell you when to run”. Eventually the young lad got off the mark with a 2. He asked the square leg umpire if that was two runs and when it was confirmed, the lad pulled a train whistle and said through gritted teeth, “Yes, I beat my brother!” Later he raised his arms like Rocky Balboa on the Pennsylvania steps after scoring a four. It was a delight to see such unbridled joy from the kid, something that is sorely lacking when we grow older and temper our celebrations.

Unbridled Joy

Unbridled Joy

It was a 40 over one day game, which is a lot longer than my usual 12 over indoor cricket, but it helps to have an old mate as Captain so I didn’t have to field in the outer. The outer was where Dad Six Kids 4 offspring fielded and their youthful enthusiasm and energy made up for the occasional lack of attention resulting in an unnecessary boundary. Bonefish bowled with a torn shoulder muscles against doctor’s advice, because his short time batting was the impetus for a fine 1 for 3 off four overs. When it came my turn to bowl I couldn’t get my run up right and sprayed the pill all over the place. Second over I shortened my run up and bowled through the crease for a handy 2 for 13 off five overs. My highlight was bowling a blocking batsman, knocking off the bail from the off stump. I was truly elated, because unlike indoor he was gone for good, out of there, off to the change rooms and never to be seen again. Definitely more joy for the bowler in the outdoor game.

At one point while fielding the opposition had two giant, and there is no other way to put this, fat guys. Haystacks Calhoun fat; their massive thighs prevented them from running, rather they slowly waddled. Each of them would stand and pound the ball deep into the outfield, normally three runs, but they would call “single” and giggle as they passed each other. It made me smile at the sheer fun those blokes were having and embracing the “have a go” attitude that enveloped the day. Kyneton lost a lot of wickets early, so the contest wasn’t there for most of the day, but the game continued on into the early evening full of laughter and community.  Cricket was the winner, as was I, on a sunny, lazy Saturday afternoon at the MCG.

 

Comments

  1. Rick Kane says:

    Hi Mr Q

    Terrific yarn, and good to see you getting out into the countryside and into outdoors activity. They’ll have you as a semi-regular before you know it.

    Small point. It was a bit troubling that the chronicle of your cricketing history left out the season you played for North Freo. Was that an oversight or a deliberate attempt to wipe that less than memorable period from your otherwise stellar record?

    Cheers

  2. Thanks Ricky. It was that one season we played in Freo but I couldn’t remember the team. I do remember we spent a lot of time in the outfield while the Capatain had his mates bowling endlessly. You’re taunting me about the outdoors aren’t you? Like you’d know.

  3. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Love hearing about summer Saturdays on the parks around our country.

    You lied about being the indoor type.

  4. Great stuff, Matty Q.

    Was it a one-off “guest appearance” or are there more in store ?

  5. Nice Mr Q

    One day I’m going to write a song called I’ve Been Everywhere…

    http://scoreboardpressure.com/2013/04/07/malmsbury-victoria/

    PS 19no is a bloody good score.

  6. Peter Flynn says:

    Spewing I didn’t get a chance to watch Trumper in action.

    Let me know if there’s a next time and I’ll bring a blue esky.

    PF

  7. Love it. And nothing beats scoring to keep you in tune with the game.

    as for Malmsbury…when my kids were really little (x 1 less than dad six kids) other half used to use the expression when they acted like kids “you’ll be off to the boys home if you don’t behave”……. Never believing his rhetoric or even that such places existed, I’ll never forget the look of horror on their faces when, on a leisurely Sunday drive to the country we passed said location in Malmsbury.

    Beautiful ground and still green too.

  8. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    Zen, Pete Townshend, Haystacks Calhoun and cricket in the one piece? Hats off Matty Q. Great read.

  9. Matt Quartermaine says:

    Thanks all.
    Swish, my stiff body over the next couple of days was testament to my lack of outdoor prowess.
    Smokie, typical question from a great clubman like yourself. I paid the rego so I may put the creams on again.
    Les, 19 attempting to get out or score.
    Flynny, I think you meant watching Trundler.
    Kate, I grew up with a police station on the corner. My brother and I did a runner from the car when dad threatened to drop us off there.
    Cheers

  10. Great read Matty.

    No better place to play than the MCG!!!

    You could have mentioned the raucous cheering from our victorious firsts who had returned to watch you guys win.

    Look forward to your return appearance.

  11. Matt Quartermaine says:

    Ta Phil.
    Chris, wasn’t sure if the 1sts were early because they won or lost. Great hearing your cheers when the younguns took a wicket.

Leave a Comment

*