For a cricket club that plays the game for fun and inclusion, a game like the one against the ASRC had previously unknown importance. If ever there was a time to enjoy the game for its own sake, this was it. The importance of enjoyment brought back memories of Dolph Lundgren in ‘Universal Soldier’ with his line: “Are we having fun yet?”.
Lining up at the Kevin Bartlett Recreational Ground, arguably the smallest ground on earth, was only ever going to add to the enjoyment of the day. It was agreed that a score of 200+ would be needed to guarantee the win.
Oh, how we smiled at the thought of it.
Working against our smiles, though, was the weather. With the thermostat pushing past 30 by midday and promising plenty more to come, along with the very un-Melbourne humidity levels, spirits moved from ‘high’ to ‘coping’ quickly. The weather had such an adverse impact that many of the ASRCs players decided it was safer to stay indoors. They were right. Still, with plenty of Quokkas and spectators available, two teams were constructed and the ASRC elected to have a bat. Opening with Subi and Israr, the ASRC lads got off to a good start, particularly against Ed whose off-spinners went for 12 in his first over.
Needing to put the brakes on a bit, Captain Rev lent on medium-but-accurate bowlers Paz and Chef and was repaid with interest almost immediately, with The Chef serving up a main meal of middle peg destruction. Sensing that there might actually be something to this accurate bowling approach, The Rev then brought on J Rod and Snipper, both of whom got in on the wickets too. Snipper even went on to take the old Richie Benaud figures one step further; 2 overs, 2 runs, 2 wickets and 2 catches! One of the catches was Super-Mario-esque, with Snipper appearing to jump while in the air.
On the subject of catches, Tuesday was again everywhere, taking 3 for the day including a couple of screamers on the leg side boundary. He has now taken as many career catches as the Big Dog in 33 less games.
Possibly dizzy from the heat or catches being held, The Rev decided it was time to go for a walk under the sprinklers in the neighbouring Soccer pitch and brought “Bowl’en” Shane on for a while, possibly because he thought the batsmen may hit a few to the middle of the pitch. The thought was almost correct, as “Bowl’en” went on to take 3 wickets off 2 overs, only the 3rd time a Quokka has taken 3 wickets in a game.
Going into drinks with the score at 8-50 and with spirits lifted by the sprinklers, the Quokkas thought it best to let the ASRC bat 11 batsmen. Note to the patient reader: whenever the Quokkas get cocky, disaster strikes. On this day disaster took the form of the returning batsman Ishrah and super-sub (and birthday boy) The Big Dog.
The Big Dog made a mockery of the leg-side field that was set for him, often hitting at and through the fielders placed there, particularly The Rev. His deft leaving of Emus lightning bolts outside off stump was a lesson for all young cricketers to follow. The innings was brought to an unexpected end by The Rev bowling off spin (as he had lent his shoes to one of the opposition) and getting one to pop up to Israh who edged it to Gully for ‘keeper Tuesday to run in and catch another screamer in front of Emu.
The total had now moved to a more daunting 124, though not so daunting that The Rev arrogantly opted to open the batting with his brother. The strategy paid off to a degree, with the siblings both making brisk 5s & allowing their mum to go home and get out of the heat. J Rod arrived at first drop, and was soon joined by Shane, and even sooner by Radar with The Quokkas looking decidedly shaky at 3 for not may at all. The ASRC were bowling brilliantly in the conditions, with Subi getting miles of inswing from his left armers, as well as solid support (and pace) from Hussain and Ikram. J Rod was the answer to clever bowling though, top edging over his head on at least 4 occasions to hit the boundary directly behind him, as well as punching singles and 2s along the lush outfield to hit his first retirement score (30).
The retirement of J Rod precipitated another mini-collapse, with Emu and Tuesday registering 1s before being caught out trying to hit out. Emu’s dismissal was a particular highlight, with the large flightless bird being caught on the rope by the birthday boy (what a present!) by the bowling of the long-suffering Kathleen (Eds partner). My memory isn’t very good these days, but I’m pretty sure that’s the second time in 2 seasons that Emu has been dismissed by the fairer sex.
Radar was then joined at the crease by Ed, who obviously likes sleeping on the couch as he hit Kathleens next 2 deliveries for 10 runs. The heat began to pinch again, with Radar losing his na-na and running himself out, bringing Dutchy to the crease. Surviving an appeal for Leg-Before-St Kilda, Dutchy settled in comfortably and started working the ball around, creeping the score towards the target. A combination of the heat and the birthday boy then saw the end of Ed, who knicked an extra slow delivery to the ‘keeper, allowing Snipper to come in and hit the winning runs with the Dutchman.
Not that the end result mattered, the game was all about having a go and having some fun. It was great to see the smiling faces of the lads from the ASRC and the Quokkas, showing how beneficial sport can be in welcoming people into the community.
Thanks must go to Dave Cameron from the ASRC for helping organise the game, Yarra Council for letting us use the field, Prahran and Moorabbin Park Cricket Clubs for donating gear to the ASRC, Pup for umpiring and scoring all day & to everyone who helped out.