Seasons in the Sun (Part Fourteen): Percentage on a postage stamp?

Wattle Glen.
It’s a cheery name for a ground. You can imagine lush, even grass all the way across the field, receding into the idyllic shade of healthy gum trees on the boundary. Maybe there’s even a couple of grandmotherly volunteers who provide cucumber sandwiches and perfectly-ratioed cordial at tea.
Well, the Wattle Glen Memorial Park really didn’t get the memo on that score.
One corner of the ground has been well-preserved by the Panton Hill Baseball Club in their winter season but the rest of it has been left to fend for itself: from the square leg boundary to the point boundary, it’s firm, dead ground. Batsmen could hit boundaries off the eye of the handle.

Wellsy and I are watching dogs happily roll across the ground as we wait for the rest of the mighty Lower Plenty Thirds to arrive for our match against North Eltham.
“Did you hear about AT’s dog?” asks Wellsy with a grin.
“It needed eye surgery to correct a loose tendon a few months ago – cost two and a half grand. Then, it broke its leg a couple of weeks ago – four and a half.”
When I ask AT about this, he sadly confirms it.
“I was hoping I could write it off on tax.”
“Well,” says Catesy with mock sincerity, “it’s a security dog, isn’t it?”
“A Chief would have a few enemies…” agrees The Benevolent Leader.

AT is one of three to return to the Thirds: Nashy, back from a trip to Adelaide, and Charmer have also been good enough to join us. We have, inevitably, lost Bloomy but that came as no surprise after we heard the appreciative “ooos” coming from the Firsts players as they watched him bowl at training.
The Leader wins the toss yet again and Wellsy and Charmer dutifully pad up.
“We need percentage,” The Leader tells us. “So today we bat and bat and bat and we’ll look to our lusty hitters.”
Within an over, North Eltham have reason to feel particularly concerned: Wellsy’s third four is a mere slice through backward point. The young fielder hurries after it, closer, closer, closer, before the ball sticks its tongue out and gains pace away to the fence.
“It’s like a magnet to the boundary,” exclaims The Leader.
Charmer skips a few fours over slips with his wristy cut shots and Wellsy sends the leg side sweeper to distraction. By drinks, we’ve reached 100. Wellsy reaches another chanceless fifty soon after.
“Y’know, they made 340 here,” recalls Jacko, “and they lost. In 50 overs.”
Well, runs to be made then.

Wellsy and Charmer pile on the runs until Wellsy flicks one to midwicket that is just held – Nashy, umpiring at square leg, has the unenviable burden of giving the final verdict that the ball carried – for 74.
“Charmer just told me that that’s our record partnership,” says Wellsy, who clearly isn’t fussed with such semantics.
“It’s like you’re married and he remembers all your little anniversaries,” I point out.
Wellsy doesn’t respond.

Clearly looking to restrict the scoring, North Eltham replace their medium pacer (wonderfully named De Vos, by the way – rhymes with boss) with a leggie.
“Just as Wellsy goes out and Jacko goes in,” fumes The Leader, “they bring a bloody spinner on.”
“Jacko should be right after Thursday night’s session with you,” says Catesy innocently.
Jacko skies a leg glance that lands just short of square leg.
“I think there’s a few more sessions to go.”

Jacko, however, shows his learning against the slow bowling: his leaves multiply and his timing improves as he goes on. He’s rewarded with a juicy half volley that bypasses the lightning fast field altogether and crashes into the square leg fence for his first six.

“I liked your last piece,” grins Catesy, “any chance we’ll see something like it again?”
“Well, I rely on his abuse of power for material,” I shrug, nodding at The Leader.
“He loves his power, doesn’t he?” snickers Catesy.
“I don’t love it, I just bloody well deserve it,” replies The Leader, not taking his eyes off another Charmer cut shot. His 50 is brought up and he obediently raises the bat.

North Eltham are almost silent as they trudge off with the score 1/197 at tea. From there, the day falls into a bloodbath: Jacko sweetly hits another six to pass 50 and Charmer takes 17 off one over to move into the 90s.
The crowd gathers as Charmer takes guard against De Vos.
A prod beats cover and Jacko is already off – they complete the second to put Charmer back on strike on 97.
A probing yorker is flicked through backward square with a fielder gaining fast. Charmer turns back for the second with the ball a metre from safe hands… but the safe hands just cannot make up the distance. With equal parts pity and delight, we watch as the ball reaches the fence, having completed the last thirty metres as if on a leash. Charmer is a centurion, celebrating with a modest bat wave.

“What will you do if you ever make a century?” DK asks The Leader mischievously.
“He’ll need a lot more credit,” hypothesises Wellsy, “to text everyone he’s ever played with.”
The Leader has a very quiet chuckle, but I’m sure he appreciated it.

With the score at 300, Jacko slices a pull and is neatly held for 61. Shortly after, Charmer feathers an edge and falls for 126 – he will subsequently enjoy Lower Plenty’s ‘Free Drinks for Centurions’ policy at our All Star Band Night. But now, he walks off with a small smile as AT takes the field.
Amidst all the back slapping and congratulating, Charmer manages a small grin.
“They were saying they’d buy me a beer if I got myself out. I said, ‘Mate, you don’t wanna see what’s in next’.”
The words have no sooner left his lips than AT smites his first boundary.

Bronty is on 18 when he half-commits to a cover drive. He’s surprised when the keeper and first slip appeal to Wellsy the Officiating Umpire. He’s even more surprised when Wellsy sends him on his way.
Incidentally, Charmer later confided in Wellsy, “Serves him right for the time he gave me out.”
Clearly, opening batsmen are a heavily burdened breed.
“You would’ve given that out,” DK grins to Catesy.
“Would’ve gone up with the fielders,” shrugs Catesy.
“I actually did that once,” admits a nearby North Eltham bystander, “but I was alright because no one liked him.”


In the meantime, AT just does what he does best – conserving movement by hitting fours.
“I told AT that the longer he bats, the less time we all have for a century,” grins Catesy.
As it transpires, AT took his words to heart – he’s out for 43, which, as Jacko duly notes, puts him down as a fail on this deck.

The last of us to have a notable innings is Nashy. Jacko correctly predicts that “we won’t see a lot of head down here” – he reaches 52 with four sixes. His personal pedometer has recorded that he travelled about 500 metres to compile his score. For what it’s worth, I regain some small pride by claiming a 2-0 win over DK in our Battle of the Tail competition.

We’ve made 452 – it’s the highest score in E-Grade this season but if there’s a ground that it can be reached upon, it’s this one. Next Saturday will be bloody unpleasant.

Charmer practises with his son James as the evening shadows fall across Wattle Glen. Little Charmer digs out a yorker, splattering dirt on the sacrosanct toe.
“Careful James, that’s Daddy’s wonderbat!”

Lower Plenty 452
Charmer 126
Wellsy 74
Jacko 61
Nashy 52
AT 43
De Vos 4/81


About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. A significantly more engrossing season than the Test Series with more educated sledging all round. Well played and writ sir.

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