Seasons in the Sun (Part Ten): How to entrench a nickname

Pre-Christmas holiday-making has caused headaches for Selection Committees all across the competition. We’ve lost The Charmer, Syed and Maestro to the Twos and Keeper Josh off on holidays. Funnily enough, in the haphazard player-swap traffic jam we probably have the deepest line up at the club: batsmen Jacko and Deery come in, as does Catesy the Silver Fox and Macca.

Macca is a surprise packet story: he’s a cabinet maker turned Private at the Simpson Barracks in Macleod. He arrives with his wife in tow: she’s 39 weeks pregnant.
“That’s the condition I play. If her water breaks, I’m out of here,” says Macca.

Top side Montmorency is the challenge the mighty Lower Plenty Thirds face in the final match before Christmas. Win and we could be second, lose and we could be out of the four. The complexity of our situation is compounded by AT’s first week absence due to work: evidently, crime takes no holidays during Christmas.

“Actually makes the toss pretty straightforward,” opines The Leader optimistically. “We wanna bowl so AT can bat, they wanna bat because they wanna bat.”

And so the Clayton’s Toss follows the script and we warm up to field. Jacko, donning his familiar keeping gloves, shows the commitment required today with a spectacular diving catch at full length. “Textbook,” he grins at Deery, casually flicking the ball back.

One of the great stand-offs in local cricket has to be coming up for the first time against a guy who switched clubs. Georgie moved to Montmorency two seasons ago but now comes up against his old side Lower Plenty for the first time.

Actually, he’s played against Lower before but never against The Benevolent Leader and Catesy. Which, as it transpires, makes a helluva lot of difference.

“Look at those fresh thighs, Georgie!” exclaims The Leader in relish as Georgie pads up to open.
“Found an off side shot yet, Georgie?” Catesy enquires innocently.
“I have one goal: I will not be dismissed by a Cates or an O’Connor,” replies Georgie.

The wind is creeping in on us as we warm up. The Leader allows Catesy, as compensation for forgetting him at Selection Night two rounds ago, to not only open and choose the end he wants to open from but select his field. Bronty almost bursts into tears. And we’re away.

And away well – The Leader entices a crisp edge through to Jacko off his second ball to put the pressure on Georgie. Georgie faces Catesy’s nagging inswingers with an exaggerated level of respect that indicates fidelity to his pre-game vow.
But he can’t shake the disparaging whispers of The Leader standing at a strategically close first slip.
“Missed a pull shot, Georgie? Most unlike you…”
“You still batting with that bloody thing, Georgie?”
Georgie actually bites at this one.
“I’ll have you know I’m going to give this to young Bailey.”
“Well,” blusters The Leader. “That’s just child abuse.”

Georgie’s foolish acknowledgement reminds me of a terrible error I made last week.
Heata, for reasons unknown, dubbed me Sheldon Cooper during my final bowling spell.
Maybe it was the fact that I was annoyed at not bowling well. Maybe it was the fact that I couldn’t see its impetus. Maybe it was the fact that I was quite happy with the nickname of Caro, thank you very much. But for whatever reason, I committed the Cardinal Sin of the Mighty Lower Plenty Thirds:
I said that my nickname was annoying.
From that moment on, I was pretty much doomed to be Sheldon for the foreseeable future.

I begin to run in. Suddenly, I hear a faint, incessant tapping –
“Penny.”
Taptaptap.
“Penny.”
Taptaptap.
“Penny.”
It’s Heata knocking on the bloody tin footy interchange shed on the square leg boundary. The ball bumbles down leg and is duly swept away.

Catesy finishes a tight spell with an audible effort ball that Georgie slowly watches over the stumps.
“Geez, that must’ve caught a breeze,” mutters Jacko as he gloves the lethal missile.
“Good spell Gunsynd,” calls Wellsy.
I inquire as to this one.
“Gunsynd,” declares Wellsy, “was the grey horse who couldn’t be beat.”

So the first O’Connor doesn’t have the prize scalp of Georgie. Bronty, wandering down the Beale Reserve slope, now begins his spell with a whisper of “Once more into the wind, dear friends, once more…”
No bowler wants to bowl uphill and every bowler avoids bowling upwind like the plague. Bronty is today doing both. The Leader hasn’t thought about the far-reaching consequences of this. Bronty bowls a tight spell – 0/16 off seven against the top side is a tidy effort in most players’ books – but will no doubt be disappointed and surly at tea… and after the game… and tonight.
“Six days of the week I have three teenagers. On Saturday I have four.” – Mrs Bronty.

By tea we’ve held Montmorency to 2/50 – largely thanks to Macca, who’s a man possessed in the field. DK* bowls one of his best spells of the season and is rewarded with the wicket of Georgie in the first over after tea.
“Neither an O’Connor nor a Cates, Georgie!” laughs The Leader. Georgie seemingly doesn’t hear.

Macca, the one spinner in the Thirds, comes into the attack. After a few tester deliveries, Jacko is nearly decapitated by a sudden javelin arm ball. He recovers well enough to relieve the stumps of their burdensome bails next over as the batsman dances and misses.

However, Montmorency then launch a counter-attack between a father-son pair whom I’ve met once before: Darren Snelson was the coach of the Montmorency Under 14s in the first match I umpired. His son Christian, who top scores today with a patient and proficient 60, brought up his 50 in 33 minutes that day with a six over fine leg. Off his toes.
Oh, and his younger brother Leigh took a double hat trick. Christian and Leigh Snelson. Remember the names.
As the heat settles on the ground, we’re forced to push and endure. Christian and Darren put on 71 at a good clip, with only excellent spells from Heata (despite obviously worsening back pain) and The Leader hindering them. Darren is an ex-baseballer – so Bronty informs me after he hammers a legside half volley of mine over the fence.

The Leader pushes Deery out to deep midwicket to curb the flow of boundaries.
“Betcha he just drops it short for a single,” mutters Macca. And he does.
“Get that written down somewhere!” laughs Macca. So there you go, Macca: written down.

Finally, Darren holes out off The Leader and is caught by a diving Bronty. The Leader completes the father-son combo when he entices an edge off Christian to Jacko.
“Page two, Deery!” declares Heata.
Deery blinks.
“Page two, Deery.”
Blink. “What?”
“Of the textbook, Deery.” Maybe he should use shorter words.

Our good bowling and hard fielding finally brings a flurry of wickets as we look to keep the score below 200. A hot day comes to a close when I finally break through for the tenth wicket.
“Good calculations, Dr Cooper!” giggles DK.

I have a bad feeling that this joke might be growing legs.

Montmorency 189
Snelson the Younger 60
Georgie 44
Snelson the Elder 33
The Benevolent Leader 3/21
Sheldon 2/27
DK 2/28

*-(obviously spurred on by this author’s criticism last week)

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Entertaining as always , Callum good luck in the chase Saturday

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