Seasons in the Sun (Part 15) : Let’s Be Serious, That’s Just S–thouse Batting

Once again, fortune smiles on the mighty Lower Plenty Thirds: as we arrive at the Wattle Glen Memorial Park – a.k.a the quickest track since Nascar – grey clouds hang over on a mild day.

Swing conditions.

However, we can’t afford to take the foot off North Eltham: updates keep coming through that Riverside, one place below us and our opponents next week, are beating six shades o’ Hell out of Eltham. We have to win and we have to win comfortably.

Nashy arrives in a tetanus-induced stupor with a thick white bandage clumsily stuck to his chin.
“Colonel Sanders!” Bronty grins, “what happened?”
“Fell off a ladder at work,” mutters Nashy sheepishly.
Onto your head?
“Nah… just hit the step.”
Get the day off?
“Nah,” he shrugs in his practical sparky way. “It was a long way to drive back and I couldn’t be bothered.”

However, there’s no easy out under the radar for Nashy: he’s required to open. The Leader does, at least, allow him to choose which end he wants to bowl from.


“Yep, good choice. Ah, Catesy – ”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” mutters Catesy, deflating like an old balloon as his brief moment of downhill luxury fades in the rear view mirror.

We’re concluding our warm ups when The Leader decides to get out on the pitch early.
“Alright boys, let’s send a message: be waiting for them.” So we get out there and make a bit of noise. Then stop making noise. And wait.

And wait. The slow caw of bored crows is all that’s audible. I’m stuck at wide fine leg, leaning exasperatedly on the fence. The Leader’s Baldrickesque cunning plan has failed.
“What’s taking them?” The Leader grumbles to Michael the Umpire, who bears uncanny resemblance to Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly.
“Opener’s not here yet,” he replies unconcernedly. The words have no sooner left his mouth than a mechanic purr comes tearing up to the ground: it’s Natsis the Other Opener, turning up “Sorry-I’m-late-peasants” style in a gunmetal Mercedes Benz CL 63 AMG like Bruce Wayne. Unfortunately, in the second over of the day, Natsis scoops a flick to fine leg and is held by Nashy.

Nashy’s catch is all the more impressive given that The Leader was giving his usual “THEREITISTHEREITISTHEREITIS!” war cry that accompanies every spiralling catching chance. Having missed or ignored every gentle hint he has been given to desist, The Leader carries on like Rex Hunt to this day. When DK is running back with the flight, dead grass dust blowing in his eyes, he is forgiven for spilling an already tough chance given that The Leader’s bellowing play-by-play commentary was dogging his every step.

Nonetheless, DK holds a more straightforward catch off Catesy’s steady up and downers and suddenly we’ve got two in as many overs. The new batsman is greeted with the unprecedented sight of a three man slip cordon as Catesy gently steams in. A flick to mid-on is stopped by Charmer… only it isn’t because it goes through Charmer’s legs, which belies his recent participation in the Vets. He does it again a few balls later after attempting to cut off a straight drive with his foot.

When DK breaks through for his first, Charmer is understandably reticent in the huddle.
“Sorry boys, that was really bad of me – ”
“All in favour of Charmer’s assessment?” calls The Leader.
Unanimous majority.

DK bowls with a new impetus to succeed: on Friday night, his younger brother Connor took a hat trick in Under 16s. Given that the Kane household thrives on a level of competition that makes The Hunger Games look like The Brady Bunch, DK needs at least four to stave off the mocking. He doesn’t get four, but he does get something truly impressive: a double wicket maiden on Wattle Glen. His second comes when the batsman premeditates by aggressively charging… then inexplicably stops and lobs an edge to backward point, where I stand. My life flashes before my eyes as the ball gently zeroes in, my recent catching ineptitude ringing in my ears, but the catch is held.

Nashy continues to try hard, but today really isn’t his day. An edge meets Jacko’s gloves off a no-ball and a couple of gentle drives scoot to the cover fence.
“That’s got to be the slowest off-side field in Lower Plenty’s history,” comments Charmer. “Wellsy, AT, Bronty, Mantis, Catesy then The Leader…” His request for a change is, of course, rejected by The Leader but the point stands: between mid-off and point may as well be the Bermuda Triangle.

Catesy continues to suffocate the batsmen with his on point bowling to our counter-encouraging yells of “C’mon Old Man!” and “Go Rolled Gold!” When he picks up his third via a neat first slip pluck from The Leader, the score is 5/40.
“Alright, fantastic pressure, boys, we’re doing well – ”
“Let’s be serious,” declares AT sternly, “that’s just shithouse batting.”
AT is evidently in his most damning of magistrate’s moods.

He’s not in a much better mood when the slips cordon begin the game of ‘Let’s-get-AT-to-NOT-drop-the-ball’. In an attempt to preserve the sacrosanct shine of the Kookaburra, The Leader has decried that we must “keep the bloody thing off the deck” as we pass it back to the bowler, a task thus far beyond AT. So Jacko, The Leader and Catesy begin to throw mockingly high rain makers to the grumpy AT at cover… his catching improves, but he still spills the odd one.

When Catesy takes his fourth wicket, he begins to turn cannibal.
“Just another nail in your coffin,” he sneers at Bronty.
“Us old blokes are supposed to stick together,” huffs Bronty. “There are young blokes we need to white ant!”
Bronty’s spell deserves a spot on the Wattle Glen Honour Board just under DK’s double wicket maiden: he concedes 0/6 off seven on a ground where anywhere between four and five an over is par. However, as he takes his hat back off Michael the Umpire the only assessment he gets is, “Y’know you’re the only bowler who hasn’t got a wicket yet?”
“Did Catesy put you up to this?”
“Just a fact.”

Except for Nashy, of course. But then Nashy, chin bandage flapping unpleasantly in the breeze, begins his second spell and gets a big nick straight through to Jacko. Michael raises the finger, Nashy charges down the pitch in celebration – but wait. The slips cordon is wilting in disbelief. Nashy turns around to see Michael apologetically waving his hands.
“Sorry mate – changed my mind.”
From there, Nashy’s day descends via a torrent of wides and no-balls, leading resident medical expert Bronty to hypothesise that he may have low-level concussion.

So I begin to bowl with North Eltham already six down. My first over ends with an edge that eludes The Leader at first slip. “Mate,” mutters Catesy in passing, “just get it to second and I’ll do the rest.”
So I’m a little confused when Catesy makes a hash of the next edge as well. I’m more confused by his explanation: “I jumped too early and I was on the way down when it passed me.” Given that ten eyewitnesses swear that he never left the ground, his version of events doesn’t pass muster.

As North Eltham lock down, Catesy returns to attempt to entice a few edges. His first over against a guy called Hogan ends interestingly enough: a sharper delivery raps him on the box.
“Y’alright?” calls the other batsman.
“Yeah,” Hogan shrugs with a touch of bravado, “would’ve been bad if it actually had a bit of pace.”
Catesy stops and looks back with a grin. Suddenly the day has a bit of bite to it.

I’d love to be able to say that this contest then escalated into a Steve Waugh v Curtly Ambrose stand-off. Sadly it was more of a slow nil-all draw. Captain Slow Mediums against The Power Leaver is a contest Don King couldn’t hype up. Catesy has one chance to win the battle when Hogan pops up a mistimed slog. Catesy panics, looking around for someone else to take it; by the time he’s realised that it’s his for the taking, it’s too late: the ball spills out of his hands and he’s trying to point the finger of blame before it’s even hit the ground.

The match is dying slowly when The Leader, who hasn’t bowled all day to preserve an injured hip, decides to put the final pair out of their misery.
“New bowler!” he yells to the scorers, “J Mechkaroff!”
The Charmer is on to extend his wicket taking lead over Captain Grumpy. Jacko stands up to the stumps, awaiting those looping, dead, deceptive deliveries:
“Ohhhhhhh, good straight one Charmer!”
“Ohhhhhhh, beat him in flight Charmer!”
“Ohhhhhhh, good bit of heat Charmer!”
Somewhere, Captain Grumpy is sitting in phantom shivers. A mistimed pull goes up, we all hold our breaths and The Leader screams “THEREITIS!” but DK performs the role of the dutiful son, dropping the hot chance. However when Mantis holds a straightforward catch the match is over.

J Mechkaroff: 2-0-8-1.

Riverside end up winning outright over Eltham, pushing us out of the four. We’ll play them next week: winner makes finals, loser drops out.

“Need a lift to the clubbies, DK?”
“Nah,” he grimaces, “Charmer’s taking me.”
That’s bound to be an awkward car trip.

Lower Plenty 8/452
Charmer 126
Wellsy 74
Jacko 61
Nashy 52*
AT 43
De Vos 4/73

North Eltham 198
De Giorgio 31
De Vos 29
Catesy 4/50
DK 2/32
Sheldon 2/39

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Really enjoying this series Callum. I could be out there with you. May have been at some point in the past.

    If you’re still struggling for a nickname for Bloomy, try Fuji.

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