Seasons in the Sun (Part Nineteen): And the winner is………….

“These runs are the hardest to get,” comments Charmer darkly as Bronty and The Benevolent Leader crack throw downs all over the place.
Surely this is just pessimism, or else a heavy handed attempt to prevent any complacency. We need 66 runs, with eight wickets in hand, against a team that is notoriously shallow on dangerous bowlers and has just eight fielders. Old Paradians/St Francis and Riverside are still circling and trying to snatch fourth place off us but if we win they can break on the rocks all day for all we care – we’ll be in finals.

Charmer isn’t the only one feeling the nerves: Catesy lights his first dart within minutes of arriving and hurriedly puffs until The Leader orders him to take the first shift as central Umpire. DK can’t take his normal post as square leg umpire – he has to fill a spot on the lower Beale ground for the Fourths as Jacko is with his old man for the Eagles concert at Hanging Rock.
“Why did it have to be a day concert?” bemoans DK as he pulls on his whites.
“Well, most of their fans want to be home in time for ‘Deal or No Deal.’”

The Leader has made it clear that we’re looking to make the runs, not the time. We have 68 overs, so today could be the batting equivalent of watching paint dry and we could still win. We’re therefore a little surprised when he slaps the first ball of the day straight to square leg… who mercifully spills a hot chance.
“That would’ve been off Knighta, too,” mutters Charmer once his heart rate returns to normal, referring to the ex-Lower-Plenty-now-Eltham-captain. “That was my first time out stumped last week and it had to be to Knighta.”
Two overs later, Knighta has his man: an off break snarls up and The Leader picks out cover instead of the forward point boundary. Macca, promoted due to AT’s late arrival, bounds off.
“Remember, wait for it,” calls Charmer to his retreating back.
Macca heeds his warning, prodding and blocking with all the obvious impatience of a dog straining at a leash. The overs slide by and we’ve regained control: Bronty picks off a few singles and Macca is rewarded for his restraint with a couple of juicy leg side pies. Just when it looks like we have a partnership that could slowly burn down our target, Macca skies a half-volley. 4/48.

One of the Eltham fielders, as Steansy observes, makes regular, flamboyant dives to exaggeratedly cut off slow moving deliveries.
“He could’ve just picked up that last one…”
“When he raises that leg it might actually go under him…”
Bronty attempts to emulate the fielder’s dive, but it looks more like he’s spontaneously tried to do the worm.
“How’s it going?” asks DK, finished subbing for the Fourths and happily ignorant to our worsening plight. AT arrives just as Huddo flicks a catch to square leg, putting us 5/55.
“Good morning at work?” grins Wellsy.
AT grimaces. “Punch on in the courthouse.”
After drinks, AT flicks a catch to square leg. February 28 2015 is not a day he’ll remember fondly.
It’s quickly threatening to become a day that will burn the mighty Lower Plenty Thirds as well. That rising sense of horror is creeping: we need 24 to win with four wickets in hand and no proven batsmen left. Across town Riverside are smashing Mill Park. Bronty has poked, scrapped and pushed his way to 28 in a four hour innings. Knighta takes his fourth wicket when Steansy pops up a return catch: 7/74. We are now in trouble.

Catesy stubs out another dart and hustles onto the ground – no, he didn’t take his Benson & Hedges with him. This looks like a job for… Catesy gets a full toss, sweeps and – oh God, how did he edge that over the keeper’s head? Next over, another outside edge falls just short of slip. 17 runs to go. Bronty flicks two more leg side balls past square for runs. Every delivery that Knighta throws up just a bit more looks like it’s tricked him and will get the edge. Every. Single. Time. We’re counting down every run: the leg glances, the slow cover drives, the uppish straight drive. Bronty and Catesy push themselves onwards with their bats between the wickets like they’re rowing boats.
During all this I’m pouring sweat into my pads. If there’s anything worse than losing the match out of nowhere to miss finals, it’s being out there when it happens.
With one over to go until tea, we need six to win. Bronty and Catesy have put on 12, but every partnership that has looked like developing has ended with a mishit. Bronty helps another straying long hop on its way, putting Catesy on strike. A floating full toss is pitched – Catesy finally picks one up, lobbing it over mid-wicket for the match tying boundary.
“Now’s the time for you to go in,” grins Wellsy.
“One more run for good luck,” I reply.

So as Bronty and Catesy walk off with the score 7/91, we can finally breathe a little.
“You should thank me, AT,” Catesy calls as he clutches his Benson & Hedges again. AT pretends not to hear.
“Never mind, in your defence it was a vicious leg side full toss…” AT’s feigned deafness continues.
Charmer, meanwhile, has finally cast off the weight of his nervous tension. “I was watching this film called ‘Battleship’ last night, and this Navy ship dropped its anchor and did a burnout on the spot so it could start firing at these aliens chasing it,” he chuckles.
“Y’know if a ship actually did that it would fall sideways because of the force of the guns?” points out Macca.
“Thanks Private McKendrick.”
Evidently young Lucas shouldn’t keep his fingers crossed for suspended disbelief bedtime stories.

Wellsy has spotted a bigger dilemma.
“If we win the granny and the Twos win the granny, the Thirds are going to be in serious trouble next season.”
“Why?”
“Well, think of all the members of Club 68 who are just going to stay down instead of move up a comp?”
“Boycotting the 80 over comps?” I ask.
“No, our bodies boycotted us long before,” quips The Leader.

Second ball after tea, Bronty pulls his 38th run through midwicket and we’ve done it. Whatever happens with Riverside or Old Paradians/St Francis, we will play finals. Catesy is given out by The Leader and vows that he “will never be umpired” by him again. It’ll be interesting to see if Waldorf actually does boycott his crease. Stay tuned…
I’m halfway out to the pitch when I hear The Leader asking Knighta if he wants to “call it there.” I’m not letting that happen – dead rubber innings are my preference and he’s not taking one away from me. Two balls later we call it stumps anyway.
“Guess he didn’t want you to make a century before him,” grins DK.

Having survived for nearly five hours to hold an innings together, Bronty is applauded as we walk off together. He politely refuses to raise a bat in acknowledgement so I do it on his behalf… which is probably not how it looked to my gathered teammates.

A bullet dodged, a finals place secured and a semi-final against Montmorency scheduled. So, on with the show.
Eltham 91
Catesy 5/33
DK 2/10

Lower Plenty 8/98
Bronty 38*
Knighta 4/25

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.

Comments

  1. The slow stagger to chase a low total rarely works. You always end up putting more mental pressure on yourself than the opposition bowlers do. The BMcCullum death or glory strategy seems to work better.
    Now that you’ve got the bad one out of your system (“the loss we needed to have”) Lower Plenty are a monty in the semis.
    Nice one Callum. You must be a shocker with the bat given your description of the blokes going in before you.

  2. Well played son. I wasn’t quite ready for Seasons in the Sun to wrap up… just yet, anyway!

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Well done Callum ( tried to find the scores but with no luck and the lower plenty cc
    Facebook page needs updating )

  4. PB
    “Lower Plenty are a monty in the semi’s”. I have missed your quotes, very clever. Always good when a scrapper makes the “Hollywood” batsmen look more like Bollywood. As we walked off I said to Cal that all he needs to say is that his strike rate was 100. Lies, lies and damn statistics………

  5. PB,
    Unfortunately Callum description of his batting approach is correct. More a case of too defensive not wanting to make an error, than enjoying the fruits of success.

    He is also mathematically deficient, as last time is checked batting from 1.00pm to 3.05 pm, is not a five hour period.

    A case of “The victors or in Cal’s case “the scribe” shall write his version of history…”

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