Season 2013/14 has been a good one for the Quokkas, if not the most rewarding. Our match against the Victorian Blind Cricket Association (VBCA) on Sunday went a long way to remedying that previously ungraspable feeling of reward, though not from the perspective of getting a win.
Arriving at the picturesque & compact grounds, the Quokkas were introduced to the different ball (complete with bell on the inside) & took the opportunity for a few trial overs, before being introduced to the other team and the rules.
For the uninformed, the basic outline was as follows:
- A 30 overs-per-innings game;
- LBW would be included;
- Batsmen retire on reaching 30;
- Each run scored by a VBCA player counted for 2;
- VBCA players had to be caught out twice to be dismissed in this way; and
- The ball had to be bowled underarm & bounce in the bowlers half of the pitch.
There were some other rules but the famous Quokka level of concentration kicked in by this time.
A coin was tossed & The Rev, captain for the day, called truly if not convincingly. The coin was a “special edition” mint & he was really unsure which side actually was “Tails” as both sides had heads on them.
There is a sternly worded letter being penned to the mint, don’t you worry.
Regardless, The Rev chose to bat & put an order together as unconvincing as his calling. Having had some experience with the format, Cupsy was chosen to open with Shotgun, who was due some time in the middle.
Shotgun was obviously unaware of what had transpired (ref: Quokka concentration levels) & had settled in nicely on the sideline when Rev asked him why he wasn’t heading out to the middle.
The Quokkas resident media darling, Ed, had been told that he was batting at 11 and should therefore make himself useful and help out in the commentary box. Yes, the game was broadcast to real people over the radio. Another Quokka first.
The opening pair got off to a steady start, averaging 4 an over before Shotgun managed to conjure his own dismissal from the most unlikely of sources against a blind team; caught & bowled.
Cupsy decided to really get into the spirit of the game & donned a pair of sight restricting goggles, which paid dividends shortly afterwards as he was bowled through the gate.
Phantom and Pup began to work on their tans and defensive strokes before heckles from the Quokka faithful woke Pup from his slumber & he started to hit out.
It was during this frenzy that Pup hit a 4 (one of only 5 for the innings), managing to evade the VBCA’s ridiculously good boundary sweeper; “Rocket” Wilson, who must have saved 100 runs for the day while showing the Quokkas how fielding could be done.
Youthful exuberance eventually got the better of Pup, who was out LBW (another Quokka first) 2 short of the retirement score.
The Phantom followed Pup back to the sheds 2 balls later after making 23 off 50 balls in 53 minutes. Never before has the gain of 23 runs cost so many friendships.
The collapse continued after The Phantoms much celebrated dismissal with Local also falling LBW soon afterwards to the dangerous Montesanti who claimed 2 wickets & was economical with 9 runs coming off his 3 overs.
This brought J Rod and the Big Dog to the crease who had been worked themselves up into a lather after enduring The Phantoms innings. The run rate soon leapt, with 38 runs smashed in the next 5 overs before J Rod joined the increasing membership of the “out LBW” club with 19 runs off as many balls.
The Big Dog was in his element, as expected. After playing the Hurling slog for over 30 matches for The Quokkas (while taking particular advantage of the no-LBW rule in the pub league), “The Dog” was pouncing on anything that didn’t bounce, flicking to leg & fine leg repeatedly.
Dutchy, whose name annoyingly autocorrects to “Duchy” on my computer, smashed a quick 14 before retiring himself out to let his captain get a bad. There are worse ways to earn B&F votes.
Big Dog soon hit his retirement score & brought Emu to the crease after he had spent the majority of the afternoon to this point in the air conditioned comfort of the broadcasting room, arguably doing his best work at a cricket ground to date (no mean feat).
The Rev also defied his career to date & had the highest strike rate of the team while also running 2’s, before retiring to let Ed have a bat in the last over.
The innings total of 153 was impressive, particularly when considering the early stone-walling tactics & collapse.
After enjoying a lovely spread that was generously put on by the VBCA and particularly enjoying the sledging dished out by the VBCAs players towards Emu (“have you ever played cricket before?” etc), The Quokkas went out to field & promptly fell asleep on their feet.
It was as notable as it was damming that the most active & alert fieldsman on the day was J Rod.
Local and Pup took the new ball, which wasn’t really new, while the Quokkas tried to remember where they should be standing in the field (again, ref: Quokka concentration).
While the Quokkas were relatively comforted by their score of 153, the opening partnership had made it to 62 without loss by the 2nd ball of the 11th over when “Rocket” reached his retirement score and drinks were called.
It is true that many of the fielders were wearing goggles that impacted their sight to different degrees, and Emu did leave the field to take his place back with the commentary team, but their collective efforts were so flat footed that even a Podiatrist couldn’t have helped.
Pup and Emu modelling the goggles
The Rev went to the in-form bowler of the moment, Shotgun, who responded well to having been previously hit for the only 6 of the day to claim another first; a Quokka wicket taken LBW.
This triggered a collapse of sorts, with Cupsy and J Rod managing to roll a few into the stumps & Pup pulling off an amazing run out; deflecting his throw off his father and into the stumps.
The VBCAs captain Peter Loh was nearing his retirement score after some lusty blows through leg (it’s reassuring to see left handers playing the same way in all leagues) but he was undone by a combination of the Quokka fieldsmen eventually waking up.
Some amazing catches were taken by Cupsy, Phantom and Shotgun – though the rules of the match stated that VBCA players had to be caught out twice to be dismissed in this manner, so the batsmen had a reprieve. Still, this put putting pressure on the batsman, leading Loh to charge The Phantom, enabling The Rev to execute a consistently unconvincing run out.
Quokka pressure. It could create diamonds in mere billions of years.
The required run rate was now getting away from the VBCA & the Quokkas were now well and truly awake, with run outs executed soon afterwards by Shotgun and Dutchy, and Local rapping the innings up by bowling the heavy-hitting Ben Peacock through the gate.
While the game was like many of the other Quokka matches of the season in its closeness, it differed obviously in that the men in Maroon came out victors. More differently still though, was the absolute feeling of reward gained from experiencing another form of this great game & sharing that with some equally great people.
Here’s to the rematch.