Seasons in the Sun (Part Thirteen): The Return of Statler and Waldorf

The mighty Lower Plenty Thirds delightedly stand up the surface of Beale Reserve, seeing the grass is longer than the previous week.
The Councilmen haven’t returned for 2015. As we stride out to defend 174 against Lower Eltham, we’re doing so on a ground that is 20 runs slower than last week.

“Which end?” inquires Brian the Umpire as The Benevolent Leader assembles his field.
“Well, I’m not sure which way the wind is blowing –”
“You know damn well which way it’s blowing,” grumbles the passing Catesy, who can feel another uphill, upwind spell coming on.

The Leader may have told his charges to “pitch the fucking thing up” but the advantage of being captain is your understanding of the game plan is either right or just more updated than everyone else’s. The second ball of the match is a mid-pitch bumper. Presumably, the batsman feebly fends a pull shot straight into Jacko’s awaiting gloves because the change up surprised him.
“Well pitched up,” notes Wellsy dryly.
“It was pitched up,” huffs The Leader, “it just spat like a viper.”

The prevalence of Lower Eltham batsmen stepping backwards to play The Leader continues to run at odds to his game plan. Before long, the long-suffering duo Catesy and Bronty are calling “Pitch it up” after every ball.
“Christ,” grunts The Leader as he storms back to his run up. “It’s like having the two old blokes from the Muppets in slips.”

To the crease comes ex-Lower Plenty player Spargo. He’s clearly unenthusiastic about playing his old teammates; an early retreat to a not-exactly-express yorker from The Leader sees him on his way for 1. The Leader’s graciousness at this pleasing turn of events is greater than someone expected…
“You’ll come on downhill after next over.”
And so it comes to pass that Catesy, with an expression resembling that of someone blessed by the Pope, steams down the gentle Beale slope and entices a nick from the other opener.
“Do it again and we won’t send you back to the Home!” calls Heata.

By drinks, the score is 3/24. We would be five-for if a certain someone hadn’t dropped two catches off Bronty, who is stampeding uphill as usual. I’ll not reveal the perpetrator’s identity except to say that Wellsy consoled Bronty with the line, “You should’ve had a daughter.”

Looking to press our advantage, The Leader unleashes his new weapon – Jacob Bloom. The Leader, recognising the best laid plans that spinners bring to their games, allows Bloomy to “set your own field, mate.”
Bloomy is a little confused by the outrage that this engenders in our Statler and Waldorf duo. That’s alright – he’ll learn.

A wicket taking spinner is a creature the Thirds have existed without for a while. This should be fun. And so it proves. A well disguised quicker ball raps Wombat’s pull shot on the gloves. Bronty, who had lurched backwards in anticipation of a well struck shot, now pulls himself forward, dives and takes a fine catch. Warren the Almanacker chances his arm against Bloomy with a boundary over mid-on and through square leg. Another sweep shot cracks Heata, standing at silly midwicket, on the helmet.

“Warren’s going to have a go,” murmurs The Leader. “Alright, we’ll let him go for a bit.”
I come on to bowl with this generous new game plan.
“Let’s go, Dr Cooper!”
Well, the Sheldon nickname has survived the Christmas break. My first ball is an outswinger that is dabbed at and missed.
“Yeah, that’s your spot!”
“Show us your Degree in wicket taking!”
A Degree in wicket taking… that’s actually one I like.

Bloomy to Kane, the wicket taker from last week. Kane sweeps and hits it cleanly… then keeps swinging and brings the ball around 180o onto his stumps.
“Scale of one to stiff,” says Jacko with a touch of sympathy.
Bloomy picks up his third wicket when Warren top edges a cut to Mantis, who breaks the O’Connor Curse with a neat catch. Enjoy Bloomy’s mentions here while you can. We are destined to lose him to the Grades above us.

Catesy returns – still downwind. He picks up another healthy edge to the slips cordon and the score is 9/82. “Chiropractor’s done the job this week, Catesy…”
“And Captain Nurofen.”

Catesy’s winding back the clock becomes even more impressive when you consider the hazardous landscape that cricket is for men over 50. Warren tells us of a Vets batsman who decided to fight through a torn bicep, but twinged a quad next over. He valiantly continued his innings with a runner. Within a few overs the runner had pulled a hammy.

Cricket is more dangerous than its observers would believe and its participants would prefer.

The Leader brings Maestro, fro waving in the wind, on for his second spell of the season. The Mantis comes on from the other end, elegantly goose-stepping his long limbs through the crease. After six fruitless overs, DK comes on to finish the match… and finish it he does.

A 73 run win, finals coming closer and five different wicket takers –

“Well, I would’ve had two if my son could catch,” points out Bronty as Catesy revels in his day’s success.
“Maybe so,” sighs Catesy, “but you still don’t know what it’s like to have the wind at your back as you come in…”

Lower Plenty 174
Wellsy 87
Not Keith Richards 4/36
Captain Pipe 2/19
Josh Kennedy 2/48

Lower Eltham 101
Warren the Almanacker 26
The Benevolent Leader 3/11
Bloomy 3/26
Catesy 2/11

NB: Thank you to Crocka from Canberra.

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Thanks Callum. Enjoying your cricket recounts. Love the nicknames and the dialogue. Both were a vital part of it for me. Good luck in the finals; that’ll be a rich vein. I played about five senior cricket grand finals and didn’t salute in a single one! Keep us posted.

  2. Callum, the paragraph about over 50s is a classic. Enjoying the progress. Detail on the dropped catches would be of interest to some sadists – possibly me included.

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