On a clear and sunny day that we have started to become accustomed to in Mid-March, The Quokkas made their way to the main oval in Edinburgh Gardens, excited by the opportunity to play on the newly laid turf wicket and have some fun in the process.
Unfortunately for The Quokkas, the clear and sunny weather available to us on Sunday wasn’t the case on Saturday, leaving the turf wicket looking like northwest Ohios famous Black Swamp. That’s right, the famous one.
Thankfully the good people at the City of Yarra had the sense to keep the astro wicket in the ground, so we were able to get a game going with little interruption. In fact, I arrived to see wickets set up and the boundary cones laid out with some of the Quokkas warming up having a bit of kick-to-kick with one of the better used Sherrins I’ve ever come across.
It’s probably not worth noting that I, the Captain of the day, was the last to arrive to the ground because I got distracted liberating some lemons from trees in Clifton Hill, but it is worth noting that citrus would be my only successful catch of the day.
With covid restrictions still in place, a coin toss was had to decide who would bat first, which I promptly lost and the directed the team to do some catching practice. Probably should have started this about an hour earlier.
I asked Dutchy to take the new ball, leading to one of the strangest starts to a YPCA game I’ve come across. The first ball, a free hit, was pinged straight to mid-wicket and resulted in a diamond duck for the non-striker. Good run out Local and Dutchy.
The second ball, another free hit, was belted out of the ground and nearly into the stands. The third ball was belted straight at me, though about 100m above my head, leading to a call of “Mine!”, followed by me running around in circles on the spot and ending with the ball landing 5m behind me.
You, dear reader, may be starting to pick up a theme here.
J Rod took the second over and kept it to 2 runs, the start of a dominant afternoon from the suddenly aggressive man from Moree.
The bowling card kept rotating with good efforts from a high-quality buffet of medium pacers including Local, Jay (having lost TFB status to Radar, according to J Rod), VP and Ed.
Few runs were given but even few wickets (e.g. zero) were taken until the introduction of Snipper, fresh from learning how to kick a drop-kick, who hit the pegs with his second ball. Fair effort, that.
This brought on a brace of wickets before drinks, with Ed taking a good catch off Alex’s bowling and Radar getting (another) stumping, this time off Dutchy’s bowling. It should be noted that Dutchy entered the swamp in his first over to field a ball and was nearly lost to us forever. Not all heroes wear capes.
After 12 overs The Rose “Petals” were 4/84 and I was feeling pretty good about our chances. It’s the hope that kills you.
It should be noted that the game was interrupted on multiple occasions by a group of families that were playing a number of ball sports on the edge of, and sometimes within, the boundary cones. Now, I’m not sure if they were somehow magnetised to that location but it seemed an odd decision considering the amount of space at Edinburgh Gardens available that didn’t have a cricket match on it.
We returned from drinks and were given a display in fast bowling from Radar that J Rod had one or two comments about that may have been directed at Jay. At the other end The Fridge came on and was, and I don’t think its over-cooking it to say this; un-playable.
More Westinghouse than Hilfenhaus.
Lord knows where this bowling form has been hiding but it was great to watch, even from knee-deep in Mordor, which is where I’d chosen to field for some stupid reason.
I eventually brought myself on to bowl and got one of the more embarrassing wickets of my “career”, with the batter backing away to the leg side for one that was heading that way, missing the ball by a minute or two (it may have been deceptively slow), letting the ball ricochet off his pads and onto the stumps.
The last few overs were wrapped up by Jay, hitting the top of off stump, J Rod, Fridge (un-playable) and Local; also taking a pole in the last over. I should note that it was good that our bowlers kept hitting the stumps as I kept dropping them. Apologies, J Rod.
With a total of 145 set, I was still feeling confident about our chances and sent Ed and Radar in to get the chance underway.
I didn’t get a chance to give them any last minute messages, but Radar was soon back on the sidelines and free for a chat.
Ed was then joined by James in the middle, both of whom worked extremely hard for runs against some excellent swing bowling. Unfortunately James did not come out to bat with his paddle, as Ed sold him down the river and he was soon run out.
Snipper, appointed by Local as a specialist 4, soon arrived and found the boundary regularly, though went out just as quickly trying to hit their captain out of the ground.
Next up came Local, who looked very calm in his approach after initially trying to reverse-sweep the first ball for 6. He missed that and then missed another one that hit middle stump.
Fridge, fresh from his dominant bowling spell, came to the wicket looking to hit out but struggled with the excellent bowling on display. A rank full-toss finally arrived but it so surprised him that it got right past him to find middle stump.
At this point I was feeling less confident but still had Jay, Alex, Dutchy and J Rod in the sheds. A couple of retirements and we should be fine. This was also the point I had to put down the scorecard and pad up.
Jay and Dutchy battled bravely, even hitting out for the first boundaries in a while, but neither managed to get more than 22 runs.
Alex was out quickly trying for fast runs but J Rod was getting well set, hitting sixes with ease while everyone else had struggled to get off strike. Unfortunately I was the only batting partner he had left and I ran myself out searching for quick runs, leaving J Rod on 37 off 19 (not out), and more importantly, The Quokkas 12 runs short of a draw.
Sometimes life gives you lemons, and sometimes you steal them from someones front yard.
While it would be possible to ruminate over the areas that could’ve won us the game, and believe me – I have, its also important to remember the words of Rahul Dravid: “Cricket is like life, you lose more often than you win.” And this from a man who scored over 13 thousand Test runs.
What makes more sense is to reflect on the sunshine, the friends and the fun that was had – thanks all for a great afternoon out.
In all, it was a great day out and it was great to see the joy that the win (their first in years) brought to The Petals’ faces.