• From Captain Ed…

    The outfield was lush and the tailwind heaving at the start of our game against the Old Bar. Snipper and Special were driving us nuts with their incessant chatter so I sent them in to open to get some peace and quiet. The boy from Broady was back for his first hit since March and made a lazy 38 of 20 odd balls. A few handy contributions from Dog and Sizzle and then some guy claiming to be the Rev hit 24 off 22 with shots everywhere. Rohan hit a lusty 26 including a 6 over cover and Monty 24 at a run a ball and we made a solid 162.

     

    The Old Bar started briskly, but then some tight bowling from Jay (1/8), Monty (0/6) and the man claiming to be the Rev (1/4 off 2 – middle stump knocked out of the ground and not even a chance to get the Quokka man tune going). Old Bar went to drinks at 1/70…70 being 5m shorter than the 6 hit off Ami to the other side of Ramsden St. 9 balls after drinks it was all over as the Dog and Snipper ripped the hearts and souls out of the Old Bar middle order with 2/6 & 2/8 respectively. Special chipped in with 1/1 and a skier to point showed us that it really was the Rev….

     

    Quokkas 3 for 3 in the league with a 162 to 133 Victory

    Mighty men of fortune

    Mighty men of fortune

  • Match Facts:

    Ramsden Street Oval, Clifton Hill

     

    Time:

    1pm start

     

    The Big Picture:

    The last game of 2018 brings with it a sense of optimism for The Quokkas, having made an unparalleled start to the season, as well as playing with a previously missing sense of vim and vigor.

     

    The Old Bar are a fantastic club and mighty strong with the good side of the force. We are still living off the sweet bread earned through selling an SUVs bootload of tinnies to them 2 years ago.

     

    On top of being powerful smashers of cans, they are also a great group and I can’t think of a better team to wrap the cricketing year up against.

     

    Form Guide:

    How things have changed. With 3 games completed this season, The Quokkas have already won 2 games. Thankfully the tour match followed the traditional path or I’d be getting truly worried about changes afoot. I mean, what next; dogs and cats living together?

     

    It should also be noted that The Quokkas have bowled their opposition out in both wins, with new recruits often starring.

     

    Quokkas: WLW

     

    In the Spotlight:

    I recently learned that a new Avengers movie is coming out next year, which would be exciting if there wasn’t a superhero returning to the cricket field this Sunday. That’s right dear reader, J Rod is back.

     

    While he may not wear his jocks on the outside, or at all, or run particularly fast, or at all – the master of napping whilst still standing returns.

    Yup, this guy

    Yup, this guy

     

    Recent parenting responsibilities have seen the great man slip to 6th for all time Quokka appearances (and he now has Pup biting at his heels), his pick-and-mix bowling style and big hitting is always in demand.

     

    Along with J Rod is another returning player who will be well received is Snipper. While an Engineering degree can be considered a baby that requires parenting, it probably requires less nappy changes than a human child. I dunno, you’ll have to ask Snipper.

     

    Anyway, he’s back.

     

    Team News:

    As for our other games this season, we start the week with a squad that resembles David Boon in the latter part of his career; bulging. Also, scoring runs.

     

    Artists impression of the Quokkas available squad

    Artists impression of the Quokkas available squad

     

    This, aspirational attendance, happened in the last game too, though we only had 9 on the field until almost drinks, so who knows.

     

    The team, at the time of writing, is:

    1. Big Dog
    2. Snipper
    3. J Rod
    4. Rev
    5. Ed (c)
    6. Monty
    7. SPECIAL
    8. Tom McSizzle
    9. VP
    10. Ami
    11. Radar
    12. Pup
    13. Jay
    14. Dutchy

     

    Pitch and Conditions:

    We finish off 2018 at arguably our favourite ground; Ramsden Street Oval. With a soft outfield and a public barbecue on site (!), Ramsden is easier to play on than a cabbage patch and a simple place to host a match; which we are doing this week.

     

    The forecast at the time of writing is for 22 degrees with a possibility of thunderstorms, so if we do get a game up it should be nice and, like a good chowder; clammy.

    Artists impression of the weather.

    Artists impression of the weather.

     

    Stats and Trivia:

    Now I become death, destroyer of worlds:

    • Wicket-keeping is a tricky role in the pub league, with little consistency in the bowling. Since taking it on, Radar has been phenomenal. This season alone he has 4 stumpings, and now has the all-time record for stumpings / run outs with 9 (Curto is still impressively second with 6).
    • Radars 30* in the last match also took him to over 450 career YPCA runs – well done!
    • Ami has started his Quokka career with a bang, taking 2 wickets at 3.21 runs per over. There is absolutely no way it can go wrong from here.
    • Having bowled our opposition out twice this season, the stats are looking good for us being able to score more runs than we concede this week as well. Ed (1.26), Pup (1.0), Dutchy (1.37), Snipper (1.64), Radar (1.17), Jay (1.01), Ami (1.06), Tom McSizzle (1.25) and SPECIAL (1.0) all have some of the best runs scored to runs conceded ratios at the club
    • The Rev is 2 runs away from joining the 300 run club for the Quokkas. Despite averaging 13.55 with the bat, there is no guarantee he’ll get there this week. Or this season. Or ever.

     

  • From Captain Radar….

    Welcome back to a new Quokkas season. A great game to get us off and running for the new year, against one of our favourite oppositions The Curtin. (Their nickname is pretty gross, so I’ll leave it out)

    The Curtin had lost one of their longest standing members over the off season, so this game was played in remembrance of Owen.

    With a handful of new players, some of which look exactly the same as their old players, we got underway with a terrific showing with the bat. Dutcy and Alex got us off to a great start with 44 and 32 respectively, followed by Special with a 32 on debut, then some traditional lower order hitting from Ed (33) leading us to very competitive 210 (ish).
    With the ball the team was equally impressive. Although we did struggle to contain the runs a little, and did fall asleep for our traditional 3rd quarter fade out, we managed to take wickets regularly, and really never let them back into the game. Notable performances with the ball were Pup and Dutchy with 2 wickets a piece. With Dutchy also only going for 8 runs. We also held onto catches (3) but perhaps more importantly took wickets via bowled and stumped dismissals, which given our abilities with the ball in the air, is perhaps a good tactic for the future. All except for 3 of us (including me) took a wicket. Great job.
    Thanks to everyone for a good day, particularly the Curtin who are always a great bunch of people to spend a day at the cricket with, and to Jay who provided the keg. Also thanks to everyone else who chipped in with the catering. Made my day very easy.
    Looking forward to the rest of the season.
  • Match Facts:

    Cox Oval, Fairfield

     

    Time:

    1pm start

     

    The Big Picture:

    The Quokkas return from Bruny Island this week with a palpable sense of joy that can only come from a great game, played in the right spirit, in breathtaking surrounds.

     

    The size of the outfield on Bruny probably aided some of the breath being taken away, Im still recovering from walking from Point to Long On.

     

    The Rose is our opponent this week, a team that has taken on almost mystical status within Quokka HQ due to some of the epic battles in the past.

     

    This game will be a great opportunity to get back into Pub Cricket from the lofty standards set by the Penguins, and enjoy the freedom that comes from free hits and no LBWs.

     

    Form Guide:

    The Quokkas started the season with an impressive win against The Curtin, scoring over 200 off their 25, defending it, and enabling a large number of our (bursting) squad to have a game.

     

    This was backed up with an 8 wicket loss against the Bruny Island Penguins, though a lack of experience playing “proper” cricket (as well as a lack of numbers) didn’t help our cause.

     

    Quokkas: WL

     

    In the Spotlight:

    Reigning B&F winner Alex comes into this game as Captain, with a solid 30 and a wicket already this season. In charge of the field and the votes, it will be interesting to see how he goes at backing up in taking the broken bat home 2 years in a row.

     

    Pete Sforcina is back in the side to provide some guile with the ball and it is entirely possible he may actually have a bat as well. Go Pete!

     

    Team News:

    Once again we are blessed for numbers, though with some shift-work allowance for this match. It is a Sunday after all. The XI, at the time of writing, is:

    1. Pete Sforcina
    2. VP
    3. Monty
    4. Mad Max (Ami)
    5. Local
    6. Radar
    7. Jay
    8. SPECIAL
    9. Alex (c)
    10. Pup
    11. Big Dog (part timer)
    12. Dutchy

     

    Pitch and Conditions:

    Cox Oval is certainly a favourite for rabbits and Dentists, such are the pot holes in the surface. Its also a nice ground for those that enjoy looking for balls in the bush, given the short boundaries and scrubby surrounds. Bring your long socks.

     

    It is expected to be overcast and 18 on Sunday, after a week of fairly solid rain, so the outfield could be slower than normal with a bit of swing on offer for Pete and the medium pacers. Coincidentally, that is also the name of my new barbershop quartet.

     

    Stats and Trivia:

    • With no fanfare, Dutchy became the first Quokka to pass 1,000 YPCA runs in the last game; blasting his way to 1,010 in total. This has included 96 fours and 45 sixes, a total of 65% of his runs coming from boundaries. Dutchy also finishes Not Out in 34% of his innings.
    • IF he makes the game, this will be the Big Dogs 80th outing for The Quokkas, while it will be the 35th YPCA match for Radar
    • Alex and Local are retirement scores away from bringing up 400 career runs each for The Quokkas, needing 29 and 27 runs respectively. The fans would tip Alex to get their sooner, given he is averaging 41.2 for his career with 47% of his innings being not out.

     

  • Match Facts:

    Alonnah,

    Bruny Island,

    Tasmania

     

    Time:

    11:30am

     

    The Big Picture:

    Ahhhhh…the tour match…the annual chance to spread the gospel of inclusive and fun cricket, needed so badly now in these grim days of sandpaper and ‘good blokes’.

     

    Indeed the current climate very much reminds me of a story told by Martin Flanagan, Australian writer, about a conversation he had with the Chaplain of the Western Bulldogs;

    Flanagan: “There’s no limit of goodness in the world”

    Chaplain: “I agree, it’s just not organised, and the other side is”.

     

    With this in mind, The Quokkas are preparing to take on a team from Flanagans home state; Tasmania. The team itself being the Bruny Island Penguins, a club that has one of the most idyllic places to call home that I have been lucky enough to grace on a cricket tour, or any tour to be accurate.

     

    For those unfamiliar with Bruny Island, Google it. For those with no patience for engines that search, observe the view from my balcony minutes ago:

    bruny

     

    But back to the game. This match provides us with an opportunity to make new friends and rekindle old ones, as well as enjoy the bounty that this beautiful island that lies off another beautiful island, that lies off our own island, has to offer.

     

    As an aside, I have been somewhat astounded at the number of times that:

    1. Ive been asked if Im from “The Mainland” (I am); or
    2. Called “Cobber”

     

    For context around the match, the genesis of this game springs from Local, who hails from the island amongst other places including; Ballarat, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Perth and the Carringbush. Christmas must involve a killer commute for him.

     

    Many thanks to him though, Captain for this game, for helping bring us to this wondrous spot and arguably the southern-most point that a Quokka match will ever be held.

     

    Many thanks to the Penguins for making it happen too!

     

    Form Guide:

    With only one game in the locker for the season, The Quokkas are looking pretty good.

     

    In that outing we managed 215 runs from 25 overs, which we were able to defend, bowling the other side out for 190-odd.

     

    That being said, the 14 players available for our last match against The Curtin are not as available here, so form may be extremely un-useful (a-useful? Dis-useful?).

     

    Also working against us are the inclusion of ‘real’ cricket rules including; LBW, wides, no balls and the like.

     

    Its just not cricket, or maybe it is.

     

    In the Spotlight:

    “More Steve”, the Tasmanian Tour specialist comes back into the Quokkas squad for his first game since Jays hedonistic intra-club match at the end of last season, or last recorded match since our tour of Launceston many moons ago.

     

    I’m not suggesting that he is the most naturally talented cricketer in his family (there are plenty of others to do that), but he is able to bowl medium pace off the mark with alarming accuracy, as well as play proper cricket shots.

     

    More Steve. Forever.

     

    Team News:

    Its been a tough gig getting a touring team together for this match, as it seems to be with every tour match, and we go into this one with only 9 available ahead of the game (unless Liam turns up on Saturday morning).

     

    Thankfully the Penguins have volunteered to provide us with a couple of players and Maxy and Sime are on standby, so we should be OK.

     

    The team, at the time of writing, is:

    1. Ed
    2. Big Dog
    3. Dutchy
    4. Rev
    5. Local (c)
    6. Will (Captain of the Royal Oak in Launceston)
    7. More Steve
    8. Wills mate
    9. Pup

     

    Pitch and Conditions:

    After an earlier inspection of the ground, I can confirm it is the MCG realm in regards to size, if not catering. The boundaries are simply exhausting to comprehend, let alone traverse. Further, the pitch has both ‘stickiness’ and bounce.

     

    Thankfully, the Quokkas have the ultimate weapon for such conditions; The Big Dog.

     

    If only we had the fielders to support him.

     

    Saturday is expected to be a sunny day, top of 20, with a very cool breeze sweeping across the ground from the arctic.

     

    Stats and Trivia:

    • With his wicket from the last match, Pup moved to 5th in the all time wickets, taking them at a healthy 5 per over and an average of 14.91
    • Local has looked the good in the nets thus far, and has a good record while captaining, he has also scored 373 YPCA runs at 17.76 with 38 fours and 12 sixes – an impressive 60% of his runs coming from boundaries
    • This is the Quokkas second tour match to Tasmania. The first, like the tale of the giant Rat of Sumatra, is another story
  • Match Facts:

    Alphington Park, View St, Alphington

    here 'tis

    here ’tis

    Time: 1pm

    The Big Picture:

    “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tsu

    “You ran me out by several steps” – many of my team-mates

    With Winter dreams behind us, The Quokkas have hatched from their cocoons like a flight of butterflies, ready to bring colour and beauty into the world. Like Butterflies though, this is likely to be short lived, leading to a quick decomposition and composting period for the rest of the summer, bringing a small amount of energy to the garden of Pub Cricket.

    This, the first game of the season, sees us take on one of our favourite teams in the John “Beefy” Curtin Hotel. As has been mentioned before, we were the first team the Beefies ever beat, ever, in the pub league and we have played many entertaining games since. Some of them have involved cricket.

    The Beefies will be without one of their founding members, Owen, who sadly passed a few weeks ago. The game will be a great way of remembering someone whose efforts allowed others to enjoy and benefit from Pub Cricket.

    Vale.

    Form Guide:

    Being the first game of the season, there isn’t a lot of form to speak of in the cricketing sense. That being said, the few net sessions that the Quokkas have run have been extremely well attended, so we are looking good at getting large numbers of people to turn up.

    If only that counted towards runs and wickets.

    Delving beneath the surface, many of the faces at training have been new ones, who haven’t had the rude truth of being a Quokka destroy their hopes and dreams. Yet.

    snidely

    In the Spotlight:

    Monty is back for his second season with The Quokkas and we are all looking forward to the man with the wild tattoos bowling with metronomic line and length again. And again. While Monty only went for 6 runs an over, he also picked up 5 wickets, which is unique in that its normally one or the other (or neither) for the Quokkas.

    Team News:

    To borrow from one of Steve Martins great movies, The 3 Amigos, we have a PLETHORA of players this week. This has made selection tricky, so we’ve had to preference those that have attended “training” (& bought the new kit bag). That being said, that may (read: will) all change by Sunday morning, but at the time of writing, the XI looks like this:

    1. Radar (c)
    2. Special
    3. Liam
    4. Alex
    5. Big Dog
    6. Fizz
    7. Ed
    8. Dutchy (w/k)
    9. Jay
    10. Ami
    11. VP
    12. Monty
    13. Pup
    14. Pete Sforcina

    Pitch and Conditions:

    This game is being played at the luxurious surrounds of Alphington Park, one of our favorites, with its grandstand and lush outfield. The last time we played here we got close to pipping Royston, but The Skip didn’t score enough runs. It wasn’t a bad result though, as The Royston put on an open bar afterwards.

    Artists impression of the results of an open bar

    Artists impression of the results of an open bar

    Its expected to be an overcast 19 degrees on Sunday, so not too tough going.

    Stats and Trivia:

    How I’ve missed this.

    • With as many as 4 debutants, this looks more like it is an Australian Mens Test team, rather than an established side like The Quokkas
    • A few milestones ticking over this week, with Ed playing his 70th Quokka match, Pup his 40th, and Alex & Jay their 30th (how cute!)
    • Captain Radar is sitting on 415 career runs, 5th overall and is only 103 away from The Big Dog – can he overtake the club legend this season?
    • Dutchy is sitting on 966 career runs, 1st overall, and is a good chance to reach 1,000 in this match if given 17ish balls to hit
    • We will have a double father-son combo in this match, with Radars Snr and Jnr in the match, as well as Pup and The Big Dog
  • It’s hardly surprising that the English like the Germans so much. Their love for football, sausages and beer very much mirrors our own and they have even embraced our game of cricket now too. With that in mind, what other reason would you need to join the quorum of Quokkas on this years’ tour of Hamburg? A quick straw poll to find out what tempted the others drew an almost universal “you’re not married with kids, are you Ches?” response. True, but despite lacking that additional motivation, I was no less keen to sample the world famous Reeperbahn, fish market and some of the finest Weizenbier known to man.

    PHOTO-2018-09-13-20-43-32Skip was so keen to get there that he selected the `Oh my god that’s early’ red eye flight from Heathrow, which meant a room at the Travelodge and a desperate search for culinary delights in Hounslow the night before. Whilst the Yak and Dac somehow found a Michelin star curry house, my search unearthed jam doughnuts washed down by a solitary Cobra.

    “Can anyone recommend a dish at the Travelodge restaurant?”
    “Yes, pringles”.

    At least the view from the hotel window was impressive.

    The pre-tour excitement and Yak snoring enabled me to get exactly one hours’ shuteye – the perfection preparation for a weekend where we normally envy the amount of sleep Navy SEALs get on their training courses. Things could be worse, you could be waiting for your passport to return from Her Majesty’s Government or worse still, forget where it resides completely.

    For those allowed to leave the country, the check-in was uneventful, but my request for balaclavas seemed not to resonate with the clubs’ hierarchy. Instead we took ownership of the latest piece of tour merchandise and the new `mug a granny’ Quokkas hoodies had us mistaken for oversized fans of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When matched with shorts, we presented ourselves as a group of boy scout leaders. To be honest, on the Reeperbahn no one bat an eyelid.

    PHOTO-2018-09-14-14-16-42With no time for the usual Irish breakfast send off, we prepared for the first game with Alpha beers and pina coladas at the fabulous StrandPauli bar. Sitting nicely on the edge of the River Elbe, the deckchairs, sand and lashings of late summer sun ensured the day flew by. Afterwards we took residency at a restaurant far exceeding our standard of attire and consumed our own bodyweight in veal schnitzel, warm potato salad and basil-flavoured gins. Has anyone got that taste of Basil out of their mouth yet?

    The tour party hit the streets of Hamburg and was soon bolstered by The Professor, Lockie and Evil Dave, who had somehow found his passport. Apparently, it was in the passport draw, next to Mrs Evil’s passport, in a passport holder with the word `Passport’ emblazoned on the front. He muttered something about Brexit, but after a bottle of Jagermeister had entered the bloodstream he seemed happy enough.

    Well lubricated, the group was keen to put their purposefully selected sequences of human movement on display. We made our way to the excellent Molotow Musikclub in search of the next Beatles and to the soundtrack of Franz Ferdinand, Tocotronic and Kraftklub  we spent several hours convincing the locals that tomorrow would be best spent watching the Quokkas dismantled in a field somewhere on the outskirts of the city. Despite best efforts and Kevin Keegan stickers offered as enticements I feared that would not be enough to convince anyone.

    It’s surprising how quickly tomorrow comes when you are having fun. Thankfully Michael D was on hand to provide us with some local grub (yes, according to my friend Wiki, burgers do originate from Hamburg) and that set us up nicely for the long day ahead.

    PHOTO-2018-09-15-14-48-08We were warmly welcomed by our hosts at the wonderful Sports Club THCC Rot-Gelb, but on a first glance it appeared that `one of the few grass wickets in Germany’ had metamorphosised itself into a coconut matting. Perhaps the long Indian summer was to blame. It appeared to have also affected the lush outfield, which didn’t quite replicate the lush bowling green advertised on their website www.cricket-hamburg.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/THCC-Ground_1500x520.jpg [the Chesney school of marketing in action right there]. Less than smooth outfields are the norm on tour, so we just got on with it. I moaned, obviously.

    As is customary, we sent the locals into bat (we always want to make them feel like they got a game) and initially we found the openers to be stubborn. However, Evil Dave continued his fine form with the ball by taking a brace of wickets. He really shouldn’t have bothered, as that just brought a talented Australian called Cam and the equally adept Murali to the middle.

    When we took drinks 15 overs and over 130 runs later, it looked like we were going to have our work cut out keeping things below 300. The combination of the square leg boundary located inside the fielding circle (which meant sixes were downgraded to fours – thank god for that aye Dac?) and some high-quality batting was proving problematic.

    PHOTO-2018-09-16-17-24-05Thankfully, Cam took pity on us and retired during the drinks break. Then when our new and extremely hyperactive Quokka, Jigger, brought a little more pace to the attack and we started to make inroads. Jigger eventually got Murali out and with the talent safely back in the hutch, Skip saw that the coast was safe and made a long-awaited bowling appearance. He, along with The Egg efficiently cleaned up the tail, with The Egg claiming the prize wicket of expat captain Andy. Despite this we still were set over 200 from our 35 overs. Have we got even close to that on a first day of a tour?

    Tea was a strange mix of cold toasted sandwiches and two absolutely wonderful cakes. I miss the days of a box of pork to be honest.

    It’s not often that a batsman acknowledges that he was probably out lbw and that didn’t happen here when our designated batsman for the tour, Milind, was triggered by Evil. Müllmann fell not long after, leaving him somewhat exposed in our annual runs challenge. Like our rivals, the real talent was at three, with The Professor finally deciding not to hide his bushel at nine, ten or jack, and showing us what he can do when he has upgraded from a piece of balsa to the clubs’ plywood Slazenger.

    PHOTO-2018-09-15-14-48-07We knew he played straight, but with the confidence hair highlights brings to a middle-aged man, he started to display a bit of flair in attack. Having seen off the openers he then picked off the bad ball and of course was resolute in defence when required. We had spent tea trying to construct the ultimate batsman out of the few genuine cricket shots from Quokkas players – it appeared the shoe-in-Guru-cover-drive was now under threat. Myself, Tom the Yak, Skip and Slick provided some support, but not nearly enough and just a little shy of his maiden Quokkas half century the Professor was out trying to move things along. In the end, even with 12 batsman we still didn’t come close, but most importantly we survived to fight another day.

    A delightful dinner provided by our guests, accompanied by a few sherbets and the shortest game of 21s in Quokkas history was the perfect kick start to the evening. I don’t recall too much about it, other than consuming lashings of beer and German death metal, an unusual arcade claw game that replaced soft toys with sex toys and having to suffer the appalling Codeko remix of MGMT’s Kids {Ed: I’ll pass on adding that link] at the titty twister bar night club. For those with insomnia, the fish market completed the evening, with a blues band entertaining the revellers and fishmongers alike.

    It felt like my head had hardly hit the pillow when the call went out to be in the lobby for the taxis back to the Sports Club THCC Rot-Gelb for the second game of the weekend. Lidl and Michael D saved the day, providing us with enough sugar to bring on type 2 diabetes. My 18 trips to the toilet during the day suggested that either I have the smallest bladder in the world or that that ship has already sailed. I digress.

    PHOTO-2018-09-15-18-16-51With the batting order reversed, The Egg and Evil strode out to the middle, with Fruiti following them into the middle shortly afterwards. He and Evil Dave proceeded to put on a fifty partnership, finding the short square boundary especially appealing. After a short cameo from Jigger that saw him take on their quickie, Dac was in and looking to avoid a pair. He was going well until Müllmann sent him back to the hutch. Dac claimed he middle it, but Milind’s video of the shot in question was inconclusive.

    The fast bowler called Bai was too good for Lockie and myself, but Skip stood firm and with Tom the Yak in support played an excellent captain’s innings, scoring a very swift half century and eventually carrying his bat. 180 looked a little short, but with a completely new bowling attack at Skip’s disposal, Murali tucking into far too many beers and no sign of the German Ladies National Team captain, we were confident.

    PHOTO-2018-09-16-15-50-13Milind and Müllmann opened the bowling, one ever so slightly more accurate than the other, but the pair combined well, restricting our opponents to 25 for 1 from the first nine overs. Murali, now into his fifth larger top, demonstrated exactly why you shouldn’t drink and drive kids, showing absolutely none of the exquisite timing from the day before. You can’t take liberties like that when The Egg is bowling and he duly claimed his wicket during another excellent spell. That was proceeded by The Professor substantiating his all-rounder status, with a terrific six over spell of line and length bowling claiming three wickets.

    PHOTO-2018-09-17-10-17-40With us cruising to victory there was enough leeway to bring me on. Right on que the prementioned Tina turned up and began dispatching me into the tennis courts. Fortunately, she began to run out of partners and in an attempt to win the game single handed, The Yak had her caught on the long on boundary. With a nipper to bowl at, I looked far more comfortable and eventually got one to land somewhere near the wickets and the game was ours.

    A trip to Germany would not be complete without some pork knuckle and we rounded off the tour with dinner at the Schoppenhauer restaurant. The non-vegetarian’s within the party were more than impressed with the menu and we proceed to eat our way through half a hundred weight of meat. With tour fines handed out, Professor acknowledged as best on tour and a keg of beer drunk, it was time to hit the bright lights of Hamburg one last time.

    A short uneventful flight back aside, that was pretty much that for the 2018 Quokkas Tour of Hamburg. All I can say is that once again it was brilliantly organised (thanks to anyone that helped with that), great fun to participate in and I can heartedly recommend it to any husband and or/father. Oh yes, I nearly forgot, I moved 2-1 ahead of Müllmann in our usual runs challenge. At his age you have to wonder if he will be back next year. I know I will.

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  • Quokkas 171 all out (Faggie 52, Kashif 28) beat Coldharbour 140 for 9 (Evil 5 for 12)
    It’s funny how a long summers night in Southsea can sometimes pan out. One minute you are getting a Rastafarian education from MC Ras Kayleb and tripping the light fantastic with light minded souls to the sounds of the Channel One Sound System, the next you are observing the four Jovian moons rotating around Jupiter from my back garden, doing the `Pepsi challenge’ with 27 variates of gin and discussing how poets possibly make a living. Surprisingly, our blind testing established that Tesco own brand tonic water was preferable to Fever Tree, the hipsters favourite, only Mrs Ches’ well proven pallet could identify overpriced gin and I’m afraid it will have to be answers on a postcard as to how poets keep the wolves from the door.

    Poetry is certainly not one of my specialist subjects and I do feel that a lack of appreciation of the art undermines my culture vulture credentials; apparently attending a computer science lecture in the Hull University Philip Larkin building doesn’t constitute taking in the arts. With ample exposure to the wonderful Michael Rosen, Benjamin Zephaniah and Roger McGough, it’s now hard to understand why I didn’t continue to embrace phonaesthetics, sound symbolism and metre as I entered my teens. John McCrae’s ode to Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, in Flanders Fields certainly left in indelible mark, but after years of `clearing the fluff out from under your bed’, the serious stuff perhaps just left me yearning for more `chocolate cake’…ah, thank god, or should I say Jah, for that, I was wondering how I was ever going to transition from my usual ramblings into an actual Quokkas match report.

    coldhabour2018

    Coldharbour 2018. Less cloud than last year

    Where there is cake there are Quokkas and based on previous visits to Coldharbour, a sizeable chocolate cake would be the very minimum to expect from the outstanding teas. That meant, to no surprise, that we had a full quorum of hungry Quokkas available for the final game before the forthcoming tour of Hamburg. And some even arrived on time, but not Skip (who’d of thought the M25 could ever get busy Skip?) which thus allowed Faggie, desperate to give himself the opportunity to surpass Alex’s double hundred on this ground, to make his way to the middle before putting us into bat. That certainly seemed a smart move as The D.O.C. and Lochie thrashed 13 runs off the first 5 balls, showing there were runs available, and with Lochie falling to the sixth ball he (Faggie) was quickly at the crease. Which is where he stayed for the next 16 overs, quite literally destroying the last of our club match balls as he dispatched it to all quarters of the ground when racing to a splendid 50. The measured innings, fuelled by diabetes in bar form, included some terrific cuts, pulls, the odd smash and surprisingly to all some decent running too, all be it for his own runs. At the other end, The D.O.C. did his best to put Plan F into action and he and Skip made some nice contributions before Kashif took up the reigns and demonstrated some wonderful cut shots of his own, and some slightly less conventional leg glances.

    At 102 for 3 we looked well set to post a defendable target, but there would be no fun in that, hence Tom, myself, Fruiti and Dave all committed harakiri in quick succession, leaving us at 141 for 9. It was unclear whether the Professor, sporting Kajagoogoo inspired highlights and a £12.99 balsawood harrow bat, still retains a master and thus did not need to perform seppuku, but he and Matt, our resident Soccer AM presenter, refused to emulate us lemmings and ensured the tail wagged firmly. Some crisp hitting from Tubes and fine stroke play from The Professor provided us with much entertainment and runs to boot with the scoreboard reaching a much healthier 171 before The Professor eventually fell on his sword to a fine caught and bowled.

    Over previously mentioned chocolate cake, cream scones and a rather amazing blackberry topped sponge, we discussed the possibility of Bishop Charles H Ellis III joining us on tour to provide tips on appropriate personal space, questioned if you can identify crisp flavours without the use of smell and contemplated whether the world’s all-time best all-rounders would beat the world’s all-time best specialists. Personally, I struggled to decide who made the specialists team. I guess you have to include Glen McGrath to keep the natives quiet, but in attempting to avoid completing a quartet of fast bowlers just with West Indians, I did think about a swing bowler like Anderson to take advantage of any overcast conditions. However, can you really pick the Burnley Express over someone like Sir Curtly Ambrose KCN? If you are looking for someone with over 400 wickets at an average under 21, then Curtly’s your man, but I should point out that Jimmy actually has four more five wicket hauls (26 in total), all be it from 44 more tests.

    The Claw!

    Up until Sunday, over the same 15-year cricketing career, Evil Dave had yet to claim a single five wicket haul of his own, but perhaps that was down to him not bowling over thirty thousand deliveries and more importantly because it has taken a while to master the `claw’. Cleverly undisguised and completely visible and ridiculously obvious to batsman, this new delivery looks set to revolutionise the world of medium to slow seam bowling, by, well, somehow completely bamboozling those same batsmen. Whether that is true or not, I am unsure, but it certainly proved very effective as Evil Dave wrote himself into the Quokkas record books with a quite outstanding spell of seven overs, five for 12. If that wasn’t impressive enough, he also brilliantly caught two of those batsmen himself. Such a devasting bowling display all but ensured the match result, especially when it was backed up by The Yak (four overs for just seven runs) and The Professor (1 for 26 from 7 overs). Some buffet bowling from Tubes and myself kept it interesting, but the damage had been done and with decent cameos from Fruiti, Kashif and Faggie the victory was ours.

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    Evil takes home the match ball

    It would be remiss of me not to mention one of the finest over the shoulder running catches you will ever see by the Yak, dare I say it; poetry in motion, which was in stark contrast to Skips `effort’ shortly after, which combined tectonic plate speed of movement with the agility of a concrete bunker. When it comes to effort there can be no faulting Lochie, who chose to completely ignore all available medical advice by diving around in the field shortly after a hernia operation – they must be making these soft Australian’s out of firmer stuff these days.

    I believe now would be a good time to kick start the Quokkas poetry corner.

    Fast bowlers
    Fast bowlers seem so hostile after beating my edge
    They come striding down the wicket with a Paddington stare
    I think deep down that they yearn to be batsman
    I know, let me demonstrate a perfect front foot defence
    I’m sure that batting education will be appreciated

    Peace and Love. Rastafarian. See you in Hamburg.

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  • Quokkas CC 177-9 (Roshan 52) bt Leigh 174 (Fruity 3-29, Kanna 2-24)

    The recent untimely death of Leslie Grantham brought to my attention just how long ago it was since I last watched East Enders. Back in my younger days I was an avid watcher, which surprises even myself, considering my now complete disdain for anything other than the highest televisual culture. To my defence, until streaming, I had very few options due to the unavailability of cable and my boycott of anything remotely connected to the Murdoch empire. I still wonder why I tuned in every week, but perhaps argue that once engaged with a soap opera, no matter its limitations, it can become difficult to extract yourself from the ritual. It becomes a habit and having invested significant time into characters and storylines you become hooked and are reluctant to waste that effort.

    An addictive personality doesn’t help and might explain why I also love watching professional cycling on television. Since I saw Laurent Fignon’s 53 second lead being erased by Greg LeMond during the Versailles to Paris final stage time trial in 1989, I’ve hardly missed a day of Le Tour. The sun may be shining and the Solent beckoning, but I find it impossible to extract myself from the sofa when there is five hours of racing and perhaps an Alpe D’Heuz to be conquered. For those yet to turn their nose up at a beer garden in favour of watching EPO-assisted domestiques babysit grand tour riders over the Pyrenees, it’s probably because you have yet to discover that races are like soap operas, with characters, storylines and subtle nuances that once tasted, become all consuming.

    The forthcoming Tour de France was brought to the forefront of my mind, when, as I made my way to Leigh for Sunday’s Quokkas game, I found myself weaving in out of various pelotons negotiating Box Hill, of Olympic road race fame. Personally, the idea of wearing Lycra, never mind cycling up an 8% gradient for two miles for fun, strikes me as madness, but then again, I am not sure I am in a position to preach – I spend my Sundays standing in a field for five hours until it’s my turn to try and avoid being hit into the next county. Playing and especially watching cricket requires a certain mentality. Very much like cycling it’s not a sport that you can instantly embrace. The attraction is not always obvious to the untrained eye, but once sampled, reveals much greater depth, and thus longstanding devotion.

    leigh2018aAnd you have to be very devoted to the sport when you decide to face Leigh at exactly the same time as an England World Cup game kicks off. This scheduling faux pas perhaps accounted for the small Quorum and large percentage of impartial Quokkas available. Obviously, our Australian members have very little interest in the World cup, with their team just visiting Russia for the weather, so we were well represented from that quarter. This was handy, as it gave me the chance to share in their joy at witnessing their side being white washed by England, in their national sport. Did I mention we won 5-0 and it was a white wash, I did? Oh, OK. The Quokkas were supplemented by Leigh players too, with The Mouth taking over the reins, supported by our friend Uwie (drawing the short straw for a second year running) and Mo, Kunyan and Roshan. The influx of actual cricketers helped forge arguably the best Quokka spin attack ever seen. It needed to be. Memories of chasing 250+ runs to the boundary and picking balls out of the thorn bushes last year still scar me, literally.  

    When it comes to devotion and dedication to the game, I think the 11,090-mile round trip made by Arunev has set the appropriate bar expected of all Quokkas from now on. He is still undecided if he will make the repeat journey for Hartfield next week, but his stout defence, effortless attacking play and methodical line and length bowling looked to have been enhanced by Mexican tequila. Skip has put you down as a maybe.

    After two and half hours driving back from Wantage last week, The Yak was another to have Roy Castle purring, risking the M25 weekend traffic once again and being rewarded by opening the bowling. Kanna, showing little interest in watching the football sent us out to field and with Kane scoring fantasy points right, left and centre for everyone but me, I was glad he did.

    We started well, with Uwei offering great support to The Yak, and both proving difficult to get away. Despite some attacking batting and a very fast outfield, only 40 odd runs were taken from the first 10 overs. Both claimed a wicket too. If only my dedication to memorise any of the important incidents matched their efforts I would be able to describe them to you now in detail. Sadly, with the first seven wickets all coming as a result of catches, I am struggling. What I can say is that Kanna took a beauty at slip when discovering he couldn’t get out of the way of it. Conan, wearing the gloves for the day, also grabbed one, by his right ear, which everyone, including himself, expected to have to search for in the thorn bushes.  

    Keen not to allow their batsman to settle, Kanna rotated the attack, with Arunev and Fruiti making life especially difficult. They bowled a combined 13 overs, claimed four wickets and conceded just 43 runs. Spin bowling had become the order of the day with Kanna and Roshan following them and all but cleaning up the tail. This left us in a such a strong position that I was afforded the opportunity to toss up a few buffet balls.

    Talking of food, during a delightful sun-drenched lunch, we discussed Portsmouth’s continued attempt to become more populated than Sanata Cruz del Islote, just how forgiving cricketers’ wives need to be and whether Kevin Curren, the Zimbabwean cricketer and/or South African Tennis player was indeed the same person? All fascinating stuff, but with some of us having to make a 5545-mile trip home, Mo and Slick bounded out to the middle.

    A healthy start was undone by some suicidal running and perhaps the best catch that I’ve ever seen to claim Mo’s wicket. Think Sachin Tendulkar, but with more effort. Mo may have been less impressed, I’m not sure, as I decided not to ask for his opinion. When Conan was undone by one that stayed straighter than expected, we somehow found ourselves 40 for 3. The wobble didn’t last long once Arunev stopped using his pad to fend balls away. With Roshan looking very assured the pair saw off the opening bowlers before pushing the scoreboard along with some powerful hitting. A fifty partnership came in what seemed no time at all.

    When a wicket fell I provided some support, choosing to ignore Roshan’s advice to play my natural game when hitting the first two deliveries straight back over the bowler’s head for four. Things were going well, with Roshan playing shots to all parts of the ground, but then with Leigh’s very own Egg brought on to bowl, wickets began to tumble. First my own, then The Yak and finally Kanna, all suffering from what I will call the `eyes lighting up syndrome’. Kanna’s stumping might have to be called a run out…I think you get the idea.

    After reaching his half century, Roshan’s wicket eventually fell. At that stage we were eight down, pace had been brought back into the attack and there was still another 20 to get. We had a game on our hands folks and when Kunyan was out it fell to the last wicket pairing Uwie and Fruiti to see us home… 

    What, you want to know what happened next? The power of the soap opera, right there…

    Cometh the hour, cometh the dropped catch at midwicket to a skied cover drive. A missed chance Leigh were left to rue as Fruiti then played a lovely shot off his legs and another straight drive, both for four, to claim the winning runs.

    leigh2018cWhether you are a fan of cricket or one of the other sports that requires an attention span slightly larger than a goldfish, they are most enticing when the sides are evenly matched. Kudos to the two skippers in helping to achieve that and well done to both sides for producing some exciting cricket. With the drive home over the beautiful South Downs, the fixture against Leigh is certainly one of the most enjoyable of the summer. I only hope the game next season is not scheduled to coincide with a Mont Ventoux finish…although I’m sure Arunev will pop over to replace me. Everyone’s a winner!

  • Quokkas CC 143 all out (Garlic Bread 21) beat Wantage & Grove CC 105 all out (Evil Dave 3-30, Ches 3-19, Garlic Bread 2-7)

    I made the ultimate sacrifice earlier in the year when turning down a ticket to watch Saints in the FA Cup Semi-final at Wembley, in favour of accompany Mrs Ches on a long-planned pilgrimage to South Wales. For someone who got his first season ticket in 1984 and only seen my team play twice at Wembley since, you’d imagine that it was a very tough call. In actual fact, my longstanding love of the game has diminished somewhat in recent years – the Southampton football business’ (I can’t bring myself to call it a Club any more) decision to charge fans to park their cars in the empty stadium car park when buying tickets or travelling on supporters’ buses to away games was the final straw, so it wasn’t quite as painful as you might think.

    DSC_0431And I was glad that I did join the out-laws on a trip down memory lane, otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered that my father in-law [no, I have got married Skip, it’s just easier for the story] had represented the Navy against Yorkshire, Boycott and all, whilst stationed in Gibraltar. Or that his family home in Caerleon sat immediately above a yet to be discovered Roman fortress and accompanying baths. The house itself is still standing, but the back garden is now an impressive museum housing frigidarium, tepidarium, caldarium and natation once used by the Second Augustan Legio in AD 75.

    OK, so Caerleon doesn’t have the ornate mosaics of the lavish Fishbourne Roman Palace in my neighbouring town of Chichester, but we are talking about one of only three permanent homes for the Roman army in Britain and a damn sight more impressive than the old brick works my house apparently sits above. What an amazing discovery, the father in-law had his suspicions of course (was it the cassis and gladius poking out of the flower beds that gave the game away Ron?), but then again, these Roman artefacts seem to unveil themselves in all manner of strange places. You will probably all be aware of the Roman bath house discovered under the Carlisle Cricket club when rebuilding the cricket pavilion.

    IMG-20180617-WA0000Wantage, more famous for being the birthplace of Alfred the Great, was itself a small Roman settlement, with impressive tower granaries probably used to store grain before being taken as taxes to feed the Roman army. Whether there is an undiscovered amphitheatre hidden under their cricket square, I am unsure, but with the club always offering Quokkas a tea fit for Emperor Hadrian himself, it was certainly worth a trip just in case.

    On arrival at the ground there were no obvious signs of aureus lying in the outfield, but it appeared that Skip had unearthed some gems, with The Juggler making his first appearance on a Sunday and the reappearance of Garlic Bread and Jerry the Grey, both having been buried under schoolwork for the previous two years. These fresh-faced gladiators were joined by the usual fossils such as myself, Evil Dave and Slick, creating a formidable side, if perhaps light on numbers.

    With half of the team lost somewhere near Oxford, perhaps attempting to find the North Leigh Roman Villa, we took the obvious decision to bat. The Yak and Faggie were sent in, resuming their undefeated partnership, that saw us to victory in the corresponding fixture last season. They set off at a tremendous rate again, looking both assured in defence and ferocious in attack. Sadly, Faggie was out 93 short of another fabulous century, but with some lusty blows from The Yak it was certainly a decent start.

    From then on, the runs continued to flow, with Slick, The Juggler and Evil Dave hammering balls to the boundary, only interrupted by those damn straight wicket taking balls. A fine spinner at one end then turned the screw, bamboozling all but Garlic Bread, who displayed a wonderful straight bat,  testudo-type defence and some quality cricket shots. The Skip looked to have recovered from his UDI (unidentified drinking injury) that kept him out of the first game, but showed every one of his 43 hard years, when running three consecutive twos. When he was eventually bowled around his legs, our total looked a little short, but with Jerry the Grey and Dave, the Wantage Chairman, he had seen us to a defendable 143 all out.

    DSC_0493Over the most wonderful of teas (gin jelly and chocolate orange marble cake being just two of the highlights) we pondered whether we really wanted England to win the World cup thereby creating the possibility of Henderson, Lingard and Deli Ali being handed knighthoods, whether the sex dolls business requires a sex establishment licence if they provide a `try before you buy’ offer, and why there is such intense scrutiny of meat content in sausages but a rather lassie fait attitude towards the mini cocktail versions? Gripping stuff, but with a Brazil World Cup game later that evening, we have a batting line up to conquer.

    Evil Dave, now located a pilum’s throw from Verulamium, opened the bowling. After his usual slow first delivery, he found equal amounts of rhythm and venom to help garner three crucial wickets, helped by some tidy catching in the field. At the other end, Garlic Bread, who I would guess spends much of his spare time finding tesserae, pot sherds and tiles near to the Roman trackways passing through Harpenden, bowled a tremendous spell. Despite already steaming in, he was encouraged, after very ball, to bowl “faster” and “faster” by Skip. He duly obliged, much to Slick’s chagrin behind the stumps, who took several for the team, including one in the face. Not to be outdone, The Juggler decided to trap a ball headed to the boundary with his mouth and Evil Dave swallow dived onto the concrete-like square attempting an impossible catch.

    Those positioned in the slips were in equal danger of injury due to the pace of the bowling and the varied bounce. One fast, full length delivery from Garlic Bread caught an edge that flew through the cordon at lightning speed (well that’s my excuse). My failure to grab it brought unsympathetic encouragement from The Yak, which brought a wry smile from Skip. However, further breakthroughs were not long coming, with Jerry the Grey finding a troubling length immediately and grabbing himself a well-deserved wicket.

    We were on top, but with the fine spinner revealing himself to be equally competent with the bat, the game was far from over. He calmly carved several balls to the boundary and intelligently picked gaps in the field. Just as it looked like the tide had turned he was triggered by his own umpire from another beauty from Garlic Bread.

    stumpsWith our opponents now facing a proverbial `pollice verso’, Skip turned to very slow bowling to ease the pressure. After an inauspicious start, I borrowed a ball from The Egg’s back catalogue, which managed to eek out the stubborn opener, thanks to a fine catch from Evil Dave. I then claimed, with huge exuberance, the prize wicket of the 13-year old that had clean bowled me earlier. My overenthusiastic appeal for leg before wicket (in the end unrequired because he was bowled) may have been mistaken for celebration, but I feel no shame whatsoever [he’s out, it’s in the book and there’s no `under 13’s’ Asterix on the Quokka top trump cards that I’m aware of].

    The Yak, held back because he is just too damn good at cleaning up the tail, was eventually brought on to bowl. At the other end, a bruised Juggler, showed me what spin bowling is really meant to look like. Predictably they took the remaining wickets in emphatic manner, both unplayable, as always.

    With another gladiatorial contest over, the quorum of Quokkas decided to celebrate the win with a few cerevisiae in the glorious late afternoon sun and discussed ways in which we could somehow put a team out to challenge the Leigh empire next week. That is what a `club’ is all about.
    Chiao bella.

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Recent Comments

  • Strong.
  • Proper swing bowling that was. Pitch it up.
  • Fabulous article which made us smile in the Spanish sunshine...
  • You forgot to mention Harry getting to bowl an over aswell. ...
  • Please see point 5.