Viv on “being in the zone”

(Viv Tufnell is a Tassie cricketer in an alternate Sheffield Shield universe. He lies, makes excuses and ekes runs at a 28.3 strike rate, while all the while being very much an [email protected]#*hole.)


(Viv Tufnell by Michael Weldon.)


Sh*t I love having fun with peoples’ hang-ups …

West Australia’s Rick Havill, as you well know, is coming to the end of a long career, and after one of the days’ play in last week’s shield game, we had an interesting chat.

“Viv,” he said to me, “I’ve been a cricketer now for what seems like forever, and honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been in the zone.”

“Hmm,” I considered.

“I mean,” he continued, “sure I’ve felt like I’ve been in ripping form from time to time, and sure I’ve often felt like I’m seeing ’em as big as beach balls, but all that sh*t about your body acting as though it doesn’t need instructions eludes me.”


“Cos I’ve been reading up on this sh*t, you know, and the way these [email protected]#*holes talk about it, you’d reckon it was some sort of nirvana.”

To that, he vigorously added, “They say it’s like you know exactly where the bowler’s gonna put it and you flow into position as though you’re part of something choreographed, well [email protected]#*, I’ve been batting for 25 years now, and not once have I felt that way.”

He screwed up his face a little, before pointing out, “And sh*t, they make it sound all zen and hippyish and eastern. I mean, [email protected]#*, it’s as though these [email protected]#*holes burn incense while they’re batting.”


“Anyway, it’s big wank is what it is, Viv: a big wank.”

He then sized me up for a moment, before questioning, “I mean, you agree, don’t you? Because you’re someone I’ve never heard talk about it.”

I said, “Well, I may not have talked about it, but I’ve certainly been in the zone.”

“Yeah?” he said.

“Mm,” I said.

“So what’s your take on it?” he then asked, and sounding like even though he still wanted to come across as though he thought it was as much a myth as a wank, deep down he wanted it to be real more than anything.

“Rick,” I said, seeing right through him, “it’s a paradise.”

He looked on, straining to disguise his fascination.

“I tell ya, all the mental niggles you’re usually plagued with are behind you. You don’t over think your grip, you don’t have to think about where you’re putting your feet … the whole thing just falls into place.”

Rick was still straining.

“Better still, you never think about patterns of previous dismissals. Like, you know how it can weigh on you if you’ve been caught hooking in the last few innings, well sh*t, when you’re in the zone, you play your hooks and pulls with impunity. It’s like they’ve never once led to a dismissal.”

It was now killing Rick not to be wide eyed.

“And best of all you’re sledge proof. No matter what the bowlers and fielders throw your way, it washes right off. In fact, it’s more like you absorb their insults and they nourish you. I mean you can actually feel yourself growing more Bradmanesqe with every jibe.”

This had his fascination boring through the skin on his face.

“Yep, it’s a paradise, alright. No niggles, no indecision and no psychology [email protected]#*ing you up. It’s like you’re completely purified of all that sh*t and left with just your gift. And that’s a beautiful thing, Rick, to be left with just your gift. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Rick now looked like he was going to explode if he had to disguise his fascination a second longer.

I then paused to savour all this, and as I observed Rick, I could see that just for a fleeting second or two, his mind had taken flight in this idyllic world I’d painted. I mean he was like a big beautiful bird soaring effortlessly on the wind thermals I’d conjured.

But when you’re a miserable [email protected]#*hole like Rick Havill, the last thing you want is people thinking they have something you want, and even if that something is something you want more than anything.

And with this plummeting him back into his flightless world of cynicism, one-upmanship and zonelessness, he spat, “Yeah, well, I’ve never seen you bat the way that sounds.”

And that’s Rick Havill for you: flightless, bitter and zoneless. A man who begrudges those who have things he coverts. A man who’ll only ever know the zones in a transit system. A man who zones out hatefully when those who’ve been in the zone illuminate it. And most satisfyingly, a man who tells you “Go [email protected]#* yourself,” when you whistle Kenny Loggins Danger Zone, as you smugly walk away.




Thanks to my great ole mate Michael Weldon for the Viv illustration. It took pride of place on Viv’s blog in the days I could afford to keep a blog.

It’s Michael’s birthday today, so happy b’day Mick!

Mick has been an illustrator for 30 years, and is a regular contributor to ‘The New Yorker’, ‘Mojo’, ‘The Big Issue’ and many other iconic journals. If you have any illustration needs, I couldn’t recommend him higher (though, be warned, he does use the expression ‘send me the brief” in a gruff way.)

About Punxsutawney Pete

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  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Ah, the zone. How do you get there? How do you stay there? Why does it occur so rarely?
    Poor Rick Havill. Maybe he needs his own blog!

  2. Punxsa-and-the-rest-of-it Pete says

    Hey Luke

    I, myself, have never been ‘in the zone’. You?? I’m with Rick … it’s a myth.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Twice I reckon. In well over 300 games….

  4. Punxsa-and-the-rest-of-it Pete says

    Twice Luke!! Was it as Viv described? Not that Viv would really know, because liar that he is, he just faked all that stuff about being in the zone to rile Rick. A plodder like Viv has as much chance of being in the zone as that bible thing about a rich man getting into heaven.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Pretty much like Viv described, but sadly it’s a fading memory. You then spend the whole rest of your career wondering how the hell you got into ‘the zone’ and how the hell you might ever get back there again!

  6. Barry McAdam says

    Love the picture of Viv, it’s almost how I pictured him, had also envisioned him hanging on to a bad 1990s Aussie cricket goatee.

  7. Barry McAdam says

    Bloody funny read by the way

  8. Punxsa-and-the-rest-of-it Pete says

    Barry, the brief for Mick was to capture Viv internalizing … think he did that marvelously, well. I also asked that he make Viv have an air of feeling sorry for himself, as though he were hard done by, but at the same time, knowing that he really couldn’t back up any notion that he was hard done by. When I explained that to Mick, I sensed he was thinking ‘I don’t know what the hell that is? You sir, are an ass.’

    Anyway, I got what I wanted in the end. And the goatee? … hmm, that is very Viv … maybe on the next mach.

    Luke, I hope you find your way to the zone again, chum. Reckon you have as a writer a few times on the site.

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