Seasons in the Sun (Part 6): Doing it on the bit

L-R: Meastro, Noogs, The Charmer, Wellsy, Caro, The Mantis, DK, Trav Ramone, Huddo, Bronty, The Benevolent Leader

L-R: Meastro, Noogs, The Charmer, Wellsy, Caro, The Mantis, DK, Trav Ramone, Huddo, Bronty, The Benevolent Leader

Last Saturday’s Cup Weekend weather was Arctic Park stuff – horizontal rain, numbing winds and wintry cold.
As the mighty Lower Plenty Thirds stood frozen to the ground, we cursed the Benevolent Leader for losing the toss.

However, as the sun came out and descended over Beale Reserve on Saturday, we found ourselves retracting any blasphemy. The mercury rose to 34o before a ball was bowled.
“Would you rather field in the cold or the heat?” I pitch to everyone.
“Cold,” is the universal response.
“Because you have to keep moving in the cold,” says Maestro. “But you don’t want to move in the heat.”
I agree. Certainly, I’m looking forward to sitting in the shade manning the scorebooks as Wellsy and The Charmer set about chasing runs. We only need 115 runs, but we’ve lost a lot of matches from strong positions last season, as The Leader reminds us.
“Nothing changes, boys,” he implores. “One of the problems with smaller totals is people say, ‘Oh, I’ll leave it to someone else.’ Nothing changes today.”

The Mantis and Bronty pad up and ask for throw downs. It’s not every day that the first and second drop get their eye in before the openers but Wellsy is standing and chatting happily nearby; these days, he doesn’t need to warm up . And The Charmer arrives late, having spent the morning at the Melbourne Arts Centre taking his son to the Peppa Pig Show.
“How was it, Charmer?”
“$145 to go in, $20 for a ticket,” Charmer grumbles. “And after the interval, all he wanted to do was go and play in the lifts.”
“You could’ve done that at Greensborough,” points out Wellsy.
Charmer doesn’t really have a parry for that.
“At least I had a good time.”

The Benevolent Leader orders me to set up the drinks. As I pour the ice into the esky, an idea strikes me.
“Oi, Trav,” I whisper softly, just so I have an audience. I pick up a single cube, hurl it across the room and it skims the shoulder of an unsuspecting DK.
DK doesn’t even look up.
“Caro.”
“How’d you know?”
“It didn’t hit me that hard.”

The stumps go up and the players go out. Catesy arrives just in time to see Wellsy take strike as the ball goes on its way. Catesy is about 50 with a full head of white hair and a certain roguishness. He could wear a velvet smoking jacket on field and it wouldn’t be out of place. He sets up his chair next to me, cracks open a beer and neatly lights up a cigarette.
“One could get very used to just doing this on a Saturday afternoon,” he smirks, leaning back in the chair.
Wellsy and Charmer go almost run for run, helped by the wind that the bowlers are finding mainly uncomfortable.

As the second change bowler opens with an intimidating short ball, Wellsy swiftly pivots, sending his beloved Baggy Red off his head and the errant pill screaming through the sky over square leg.
“Geez,” grumbles the bowler’s nearby father. “Is getting your eye in to the new bowler something they only tell juniors?”
Catesy chuckles.
“We were playing at Montmorency one day and they thought it would be a good plan to bowl short at Wellsy and set a field for the pull. We couldn’t believe it but 144 runs later they were still trying it.”

Wellsy’s batting style, unless he’s playing his favoured pull shot, often resembles Steve Waugh’s. He barely stubs out yorkers and collapses onto half-volleys but when he goes for a shot the ball stays hit. Fielding teams can spend hours under the pretence that they’re just one ball away from getting him out. The truth is he’s in control… in an unusual-looking way.

“Ooh, my race is on,” exclaims Catesy, holding his phone to his mouth as if it’s a walkie-talkie.
Three minutes later, he puts it back down.
“Win?”
“Nope, my horse is still running,” he quips. “Doesn’t matter, I’m still playing with their money.”

The Mantis edges around nearby nervously. He’s spent the week hiking in Mt Bogong but The Leader has still pencilled him in to bat at three. He air-pulls, air-drives and air-leaves. I always preferred opening to that prolonged tension of remaining switched on while waiting for a wicket to fall.
However, Mantis clearly has other pressing issues on his mind.
“If Charmer and Wellsy get the runs before tea, do you reckon they’ll still give us food?”
Evidently school camp rations were less than satisfactory.
“Y’know, Mantis, I was talking to a guy who once played for Rivergum,” I begin. “And after they lost a grand final they made a six-in-the-morning Maccas run and bought a hundred cheeseburgers.”
There’s a general silent approval.
“Did they go through drive through?” asks Noogs.
I frown and think.
“Hope so, it’d be a bit difficult to carry a hundred all on your own.”
“Did they finish them?” asks Huddo.
“Yep, between ten blokes.”
More general and silent approval.

As the score steadily mounts, the sounds of the F-Troop game carry up to us. The Fourths are chasing 250 and, from the constant yells of “Shot!” or else screeching appeals, it seems that they’re giving it a real crack. Captain Grumpy wanders up to inspect the course of our match.
Catesy grins impishly.
“Well… wasn’t hoping to see you until I’d had a few at the clubbies.”
Grumpy turns and eyes Catesy distastefully.
“Greg. Wasn’t hoping to see you… ever.”
And he huffs on back.

At drinks, Charmer calls over and asks me to get his bottle. I look in his bag and find two. Figuring to be safe, I bring them both.
“Oh good, I was hoping you’d bring both.”
“Your wish is my command.”
“Damn right.”
And they troop back out there. Trav, the replacement square leg umpire, follows them. With his long black hair and new-found sunnies, he looks a bit like Joey Ramone.

Thanks to an obliging spinner, The Charmer overtakes Wellsy and reaches his 50 with an audacious pull shot that, as Bronty estimates, looks as if he swung and ducked at the same time. With a deft leg glance, Wellsy reaches the same milestone.
It looks as if we have a formidable opening pair. They take us to victory. Charmer should go to Peppa Pig more often.
“Do you think the Leader will call it there?”
“And relinquish power? Never. He’ll go to tea.”
The Leader has certainly enjoyed his afternoon spent umpiring. Plenty of half-hearted LBW appeals: he stands imperiously behind the podium-like stumps and disregards them all. Wellsy eventually snicks one to slip and The Mantis is, at long last, on the field. A couple of pull shots later, he walks off with Charmer after the Leader and Not A Scrapper mutually agree that the game is done.

Another match won, another 50 for Charmer and Wellsy. And Catesy is, come end of the day, still playing with their money.

Heidelberg 114
Not A Scrapper 28
Not A Scrapper #2 26
The Benevolent Leader 4/16
DK 2/25

Lower Plenty 1/167
Wellsy 76
The Charmer 70*

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.

Comments

  1. craig dodson says

    Callum, just when I thought park cricket was getting too serious you reminded me of all I miss about playing the game. Good spirit, plenty of piss taking and a load of fun.

  2. Keep ’em coming Caro – er Callum. I love the banter.
    The faces are all a bit dark and hard to make out in the photo. Very artful. Protecting the innocent?

  3. “It didn’t hit me hard.” Time-honoured sheds banter.

    Loving these COC.

  4. Yes Callum.
    “More general and silent approval…”

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