Seasons in the Sun (Part 17): Patience v Patience, Discipline v Discipline.

Rain.

It started Friday night and kept going well into Saturday morning. I awaken to middle of winter clouds in every direction. The cricket Gods are not smiling on the mighty Lower Plenty Thirds.

“Doesn’t matter if we can’t see the pitch and we have to swim,” Bronty declares, “we’ll say it’s right to play.” Attaboy.

Here’s the deal: we beat Riverside, we’re in a good position to make finals. We lose or draw, we’re out. So as The Benevolent Leader and I arrive at Greensborough Park, we charge onto the field to see what needs to be done to get the match underway.

Pah! That pool bunkered where AT will be donning the gloves is little more than a glorified puddle. And I’ve driven over streams that are bigger than what’s running between mid-on and mid-off.

“Right – get a broom,” orders The Leader. “We’ll sort this.”

And in ten minutes we’ve emptied the pool. Now fingers crossed that the sun hangs around to dry out the pitch a little.

“We’ll be right,” assures The Leader. “I’ve got Charmer on standby. He’s offered some sawdust if we need it.”

Thankfully and magnanimously, Jared the Riverside captain brings forth a bag of sawdust to drink up the last splashes around the pitch.

Macca arrives last, having spent the morning with his six week old boy Lucas to give his wife a break.
“I go to work, she spends all day with Lucas, I come home and she goes to sleep,” he grins. “Sometimes we bump into each other and it’s like, ‘Hello, believe I’m married to you…’”
“How’s your reading to him going?” asks DK.
“I get bored,” he shrugs. “Six words is about all I can do. I’m just going to tell him that if he likes a book he should just wait until it comes out on film.”
Lucas better not get a passion for J.R.R Tolkien before he can read.

At 1:00 we’re underway. Huddo prepares to take the first over as Bronty crouches in his Lower Plenty cap at short leg (his valiant attempt to squeeze on a helmet finished with him looking like a London bobby). I stand at fine leg and simmer: the day is warming and that residual dew is now evaporating steamily.

Riverside are only chasing 168 – if they bat out the overs they’ll win. So there wasn’t really a need for them to take on Steansy at mid-off in the fifth over: Steansy straightens his Ray Bans like the third Blues Brother, gathers and rips in a neat throw to AT for our first wicket. This sets the precedent for the day, as AT points out. Patience v patience. Discipline v discipline.

Soon The Leader is bowling his best spell of the year, having taken four hits from Captain Nurofen to ensure that he’s rattling rather than creaking as he steers in. Anthony Dean, the Riverside danger man, is playing and missing two, three, four balls in a row. The streaks are only interrupted by the fuller delivery that hits him, draws a screamed lbw appeal and is rejected. Is it too much to ask for your opponent to be just a touch better? Say, enough to get an edge?

It would be easy for us to get complacent at all these plays and misses, or disheartened at the rejected lbws. However, the match is very evenly poised: Riverside are 1/47 off 20, meaning they’ve weathered the new ball at its most potent. The fielding conditions are something straight outta Queensland and not getting easier.

So The Leader’s long awaited breakthrough is crucial. When Mantis takes a sharp catch (finally justifying his claims that he belongs in gully) off DK the next over, we’ve made serious inroads into a team with a long tail.

However there’s one man who stands between Riverside and peril: Money the Eldest. The Moneys are an old, famous family at Riverside CC and the Eldest has been their most consistent run scorer this season. He’s also their most patient batsman. Cometh the hour…

The Leader’s spell reaches 15 overs before he finally gives himself a rest. With one over left, it looks like Bronty and DK will bowl out to tea. However, Money has other ideas: off DK’s third last ball, he creams a pull shot – that’s cut off by Macca flying to his right at silly mid-wicket. Off DK’s second last ball, he flicks a leg glance – that’s cut off by Macca flying to his left at silly mid-wicket.

All I can do is send a quick prayer to the scientists conducting human cloning to hurry up so we can generate ten Maccas for the ultimate fielding side.

DK, however, is not quite as rapturous.
“Two bucks each, Macca,” he mutters drily as we cool in the change rooms.
“Me?” Macca exclaims indignantly. “You dropped that catch against Monty that cost me a hat trick!”
“I had to run for that – ”
“You moved a step,” interrupts Bronty. “But Macca I don’t think you were on a hat trick…?”
“Well, I would’ve gotten the third,” declares Macca.
“I see,” grins The Leader. “Had the third leg booked in?”
“And also,” adds Macca, pressing his advantage on DK, “my dropped catches haven’t cost us the match yet. Your one did.”

“3/88,” surmises Wellsy. “Evenly poised.” He’s obviously been in much tighter squeezes than this. I don’t reply; I’m preoccupied by Catesy’s Facebook post of the view from behind Mitchell Johnson’s arm in the Australia v England World Cup match. Glad to see the meeting went well, Catesy…

We’re happily surprised by the arrival of all the Seconds, who have just steamrolled Whittlesea for 51. They gather in the shade of the fine leg boundary and applaud us back on in a wonderful display of support.

Bronty has 1-0 off three overs, which includes a wicket via a floating edge to Mantis. As he walks on for tea, The Leader walks over to him to, presumably, congratulate his excellent bowling.
“Good spell. I’ll take the ball after the break.”
Bronty adopts a look of cynical disbelief…. but his good buddy Waldorf Cates isn’t here to sympathise with him.

The not-exactly-expressive Huddo pushes and pushes Money: when a wicked outswinger eludes the bat by a layer of paint, he’s so totally overcome with nerves and frustration that he briefly exhales and flaps his hands. Just once. Besides, he wins the battle when Money impatiently pushes a catch to DK: 5/94. This. Is. On.

“Impatience, boys!” exclaims The Leader. “Alright – fuckin’ foot on throats time!”

The Leader – once again smelling wickets but today unquestionably deserving them – comes back on and finds two soft catches that Macca accepts (and could have done so in his sleep).
Jared comes in to try to prop up a shaky tail end. However, on 6 he uppishly straight drives a half-volley from The Leader, who breaks at least six laws of physics by pushing himself through the air to his left and snatching a one handed blinder. Jared slowly walks off amidst the delighted cacophony from the watching crowd, contemplating just how unfair life can be.

With every wicket, I’m more and more overcome by the nerves that whisper that I’ll drop the catch or miss the run out that will turn the tide of the match. But when Charmer snares a hot chance at first slip and celebrates à la Mario Balotelli, I’m caught up in the excitement. We’ve done this. We’re going to win.

Two balls later, The Leader takes his sixth wicket and we celebrate. Today we had to stand up and we did.
“Remember to thank the boys who came,” The Leader reminds us as he leads us off the ground with figures of 6/42. The watching crowd stands and applauds. The Leader raises one hand in solemn acknowledgement –
“Yeah, well done Wellsy!”
“Great game Charmer!”
Thirty five years of club cricket and he’s still falling for the classics.

Lower Plenty 168
AT 57
Huddo 35*
Caple 3/20
Corcoran the Second 3/47

Riverside 115
Dean 44
The Benevolent Leader 6/42

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Callum have come to love your weekly wraps always entertaining
    Go the lower plenty , 3rds ! Good luck this week

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