Uncertain (personal) corridors

It’s Saturday night and I’m at the South Yarra Cricket Club, looking through the balcony window at the beautiful oval as the light fades.  I’m listening to Gideon Haigh as he responds to Gerard Whateley’s warm and welcoming speech launching Haigh’s latest book, “Uncertain Corridors – Writings on modern cricket”.

I catch most of what Gideon is saying but I’m having difficulty concentrating. My knees are killing me. I’ve spent the afternoon playing cricket for the Clifton Hill Third XI. We’re on top of the ladder and playing the second bottom team. But this afternoon, on day one of a two-day match, we were humiliated. All out for 66. In reply, our opposition are 1/123. My contribution to the disaster has been a second-ball duck and four non-threatening overs that yielded 24 runs.

This is not what I’m used to. I’ve been promoted from the fourths, where last week I took 1/13 off 14 overs. In that match I rued the fact that the batsmen had shown me too much respect and that’s why I hadn’t taken more wickets. Today I was shown no respect at all but I was unable to make the batsmen pay. In my last over this afternoon I was taken for four and six off consecutive balls. Total disdain.

No wonder my knees are hurting. Had it been us that had dismissed the opposition for 66 and I’d taken something like 4/24 off 12, I’m sure the pain would be far less noticeable and I’d be hanging off Gideon’s every word.

The title of Gideon’s book refers to cricket’s uncertain future. That’s a far weightier matter than the fading career of a 48-year-old coodabeen. But as I try to focus on Gideon’s words, all I can do is look at the pile of books that he will later sign, see the word “uncertain” over and over again and ponder my own uncertain cricketing future.

Today was one of those days where you question every aspect of yourself:

  • Should I have retired on top after being part of our 4th XI premiership team last summer? I had promised when I returned to cricket after a 13-year break that I would keep playing until I won another flag (having played in three in my younger days). Maybe I should have called it a day last March.
  • Has something changed about my bowling action? Last summer I was taking bags of three or four wickets every match. This year I’ve been economical (apart from today) but not taking wickets. Where’s my penetration gone?
  • What the f*%k is wrong with my knees? I’ve never had a problem with them. My right knee started aching a few weeks ago and now my left one is permanently swollen and in pain. The right one probably still hurts but the pain of the left one has taken over. Is it because they’re carrying 10 kilos more than they should be? That can’t help, surely? But regardless, I’m not sure I can pin the blame for my lack of wickets on my knees anyway. Though in some discomfort, I can still run in every ball and roll my arm over.

Maybe it is time to give it away and spend more time watching the game, reading the wise words of those such as Gideon who sagely observe the game, and do a bit of philosophising of my own on the sport.

The speeches are over. I hobble over to  the table and buy my copy of Uncertain Corridors. As I wait in the queue to have a quick chat with Gideon and get him to sign my copy, I continue to wonder. Our match is only half way through. Maybe next Saturday things will be different. By then I’ll have played a game of old fellers’ Monday night indoor cricket and been to see my doctor about these knees. Maybe I’ll have had a ripping indoor match and the doc will have provided me with a miracle cure that takes all my pain away and I’ll take a bag of wickets and all my doubts will fade quickly away.

Maybe. Or maybe they won’t.

Gideon signs my book and we exchange brief pleasantries. Perhaps Gideon’s book, no doubt full of words of wisdom about the direction the game is headed and the way it should be headed, on a grand scale, will have words that guide me in making decisions about cricket at a much smaller, personal and selfish level.

I hope so. Because for the first time in my cricketing life, I haven’t really got a clue what I should do.

About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?


  1. Post Script #1: Indoor cricket on Monday went well. The knees weren’t too bad and I got BOG. Maybe there’s life in the old Gig yet!

    Post Script #2: Training tonight (Tuesday) started well. The knees were stiff but once I warmed up my net bowling spell wasn’t too bad. But then when it came time to bat my knees locked up. By the time I joined the fielding drills I could barely lift either leg and both knees were in agony. Maybe there’s in fact no life in the old Gig!

    Seeing the doc tomorrow morning. Will report back with Post Script #3. Not confident that a “miracle cure” will be forthcoming. (Anyone know where I cab get some peptides?)

  2. I’m jealous Gigs. I retired 10 years too early and its now 20 years too late. There is a young man I am working with (he’s 27) who is getting back into cricket as a way of connecting with some mates after a difficult period.
    He suggested I bowl to him in the nets today. Might be good therapy for him but not for me.
    There are limits.

  3. Peter Fuller says

    I’m inclined to suggest that you decide based on a simple calculation – does the pleasure you derive from playing compensate for the pain. Obviously that’s influenced by the extent of team and personal success, small victories like making a couple turn and beating the bat as well as the larger moments like your last season premiership.
    Most of us have confronted that horrid time in our life when we understand the boxer’s mantra, my mind is making appointments which my body can’t keep. Personally I find myself reconciled to the limitations which physical deterioration compels. Since I love what I do (running) and I’ve been very fortunate in escaping significant injuries, I intend to continue, as long as possible. In team activities, you have the added obligation to ensure that you are making an adequate contribution – before the selectors decide that you aren’t.
    All that said, I’m an advocate of the view that anyone should play on as long as they can.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Gigs having recently had my tenth knee op , 7 left , 3 right and noeing knee replacements are inevitable I still wouldn’t swap it for the enjoyment and friendships made from playing sport . Work for me as a gardener is a real concern and I no I would be a bloody idiot to play cricket again never say never ! If you can get by re work I think
    Peter F has put it superbly above and is spot on ! Who really cares what grade it is you are still playing enjoy it mate !

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Gigs, you have a lot to be proud of. Playing 3rds in that comp is no mean feat. On top of that you are the VETS skipper of an UNDEFEATED team and we love playing with you and under you because of your positive spirit and inclusive attitude.

    You came back after 13 years and I started after a 16 year and 20 kilo absence. I hate the fact that I can’t bowl fast, but I’ve tried to adapt by using guile and playing with the angles and bowling a variety of deliveries. We say: “I play to have fun” and while there is truth in that, cricket is also a lonely game of self-assessment where misplaced hubris can quickly descend into self-flagellation after one bad shot, a dropped catch, misfield or a bad ball. All too fucken human.
    Don’t be too hard on yourself mate, you are an inspiration to those that know you well, in cricket and friendship.

  6. Chris Weaver says

    Nicely written, Gigs.

    It was good to meet you on Saturday night – along with ‘Rusty’ Jackson, you were another familiar face I could finally meet in the flesh.

    Hopefully your side will snag some quick wickets this weekend. Who do you play for?

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Great read Gigs. Is there any other game that gives you the great highs and terrible lows that cricket does? Maybe only golf. 3 or 4 wickets this week will fix those knees. At 48 you have plenty of cricket left in you, you’re a long time retired!

  8. Andrew Starkie says

    growing old disgracefully, Gigs. keep it up. As my old coach always told me, ‘Shit gets wickets’.

  9. Besides indoor, you played in that new winter league right Gigs? So if I could just make a few observations from the cheap seats;

    1. There is a reason why the cricket gods invented an off-season, to regenerate mind and body from the undulating fortunes and frustrations of what is a most difficult sport to play and keep one’s sanity intact. At 48 to be playing that much cricket, well it is both highly commendable and pushing the envelope a tad too far I suspect.

    2. It’s a freakin funny-silly game. As Starkie said, shit gets wickets. Get the knees sorted (anti-inflams & osteo treatment), clear the mind and I reckon the wickets will flow. Mitch Johnson has visited much darker patches I suspect, and look at him now.

    3. There’s plenty of time to read books sitting on the dunny. What else ya gonna do? You’re a long time retired and all those cliches.

    Go Gigs!

  10. Good luck with the knees Gigs. While you might be having a few problems I am sure you no doubt are still enjoying the game and club community.

  11. Thanks for all the kind responses!

    * Peter B, that’s a nice story. Not good therapy for you? Why so? Dodgy knees for you too?

    * Peter F, wise words – thanks. Still derive much pleasure from playing and training and hope to continue doing so if I can manage the pain side. Of course, I also hope to take a few wickets and make a few runs along the way!

    * Malcolm, 10 knee ops? Wow! I feel a bit of whinger now. I think I’ll keep playing until I’ve had at least 5 – you’ve inspired me!

    * Thanks, Phil. It’s a pleasure captaining players like you. Sadly, I might have to choose between weekly Saturday cricket and fortnightly vets cricket to make sure I can contribute to one or the other in some way.

    * Chris – thanks, great to meet you and Rusty, too! I play for Clifton Hill – open-age cricket every Saturday and I captain our over-40s team which plays every second Sunday.

    * Thanks, Luke. Yes, cricket’s highs and can be very high and the lows pretty deep. I’ll keep fronting up as long as I can!

    * Thanks Andrew. Ah, the old “Shit gets wickets” – possibly the phrase, I’ve heard more than any other in my cricketing career, and certainly true at times for me!

    * JD, you raise and interesting point about the off-season. This year I also captained Clifton Hill’s inaugural Mid-Year team in a comp that went through late Autumn and winter. In hindsight, a break might have been better for me. You’re probably right about me pushing the envelope a little too far. I’m stupidly trying to hang on to that feeling of invincibility that one can have in their early twenties.

    * Thanks, DJ. The point about club and community is a very important one. I joined Clifton Hill (having not played cricket for 13 years) after my marriage broke up and the club and its people have played a huge part in me being able to retain some semblance of sanity.

  12. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Gigs with the latest op coming up and we as in Pembroke were short so as club coach I thought beggar it I’ll play and captain my last ever likely game had a bowl but was nervous about putting any pressure on my knees at least got a wicket and we won in the last over so the pain and ice in the next few days was worth it
    Unfortunately , JD is spot on !
    Dj is totally correct community clubs are vital re the growth and survival of so many people especially in the country but as I wrote in why cricket is dying ? It is getting harder and harder to fill cricket sides wish there was a easy solution !

  13. Mickey Randall says

    I say well done on playing! I’m about your age, and get injured just watching from the couch.

  14. matt watson says

    Hi Gigs,
    I had knee surgery three months ago and am now back to running every second night.
    I had torn the meniscus in my left knee – it is still not right, but it would be worse if I shunned the surgery.
    Like you, I could run with a little discomfort, then it would swell and send pain in waves into my belly.
    There was no way I could run a marathon, not even a half marathon, so surgery was the only option.
    Don’t muck around with your knees. If you need a clean out or rest, so be it. To ignore the pain and swelling will worsen the injury.

  15. There’s NO WAY you’re getting away that easy, Gigs. I am mapping out a ten-year plan for the 6th XI and you feature strongly in the second half.

    MOC (aged 47)

  16. Gigs
    You have tendonitis or inflamation Nothing fatal and curable See a decent Sports Physician
    That will be $75 of $50 for cash lol

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