Whalers 165-7 (Faggie 2-11, Dac 2-22) lost to Quokkas 251-4 (Faggie 125no!, Ches 64)
Whenever I spend Christmas day with my family and find myself losing yet another game of Trivial Pursuit, I am mindful of the famous Jimmy Ormond response to Mark Waugh’s sledge during the 2001 Ashes series, when he said: “at least I’m the best player in my family.” As every sibling will tell you, that is one hell of a burn, because no matter how much you love one another, you still want to be better than them, at pretty much everything, all the time…especially when it comes to who is the more intelligent.
My sister has distinct advantage over me when playing Trivial Pursuit. Red wine consumption doesn’t increase my general knowledge, solicitors tend to be quite clever and unlike myself, she doesn’t just think she knows everything, she actually does – except for the subject of geography, which is such an embarrassing blind spot, that even she has to swallow her pride and admit her nine-year old daughter is more competent.
However, general knowledge quizzes are generally just the `prawn cocktail starter’ of the battle of wits on Christmas day. The `port and cheese course’ is all about winning arguments, be they political, social economic or anything really. I plant myself firmly on the opposite side to my sister in any argument, no matter what my beliefs are, just to try to prove I have the upper hand in that department. Unfortunately, this is another battleground I seem to be coming off second best these days. Where once I got away with half-truths and unprovable theories, stats or facts, I am now taken to task, not only by my sister, her husband and my other half, but now Alexa too. The `Anyone But Ches’ brigade I could handle, with relative ease, but how do you argue with a flipping database?
Predictably, Christmas 2017 went badly. First, I barely won a cheddar, then I found myself at the non-stilton end of the dinner table, but worse still, I nonchalantly suggested that bears didn’t hibernate. On the face of it just a completely insignificant remark, something you’d hardly bat an eyelid over, but in the hotbed of Christmas day, this presented the ideal opportunity for the ABC to take me to task.
“Of course bears hibernate, dipshit. What do you think they do all winter? Duh.”
Bears hibernate? Really? Shit. Have I just made myself look like a complete wilderness novice and effectively excluded myself from all future nature arguments? Should I double up and bring polar bears into the equation?
“…do bears hibernate?”
Like the accused waiting to hear the verdict from the court clerk, I turn and face the cylinder-shaped voice of death. There is a pause…a last second before innocence, or in my case credibility, is ripped to shreds.
Alexa: “It is a common misconception that bears hibernate during the winter. While bears tend to slow down during the winter, they are not true hibernators. Black bears, Grizzly bears and Brown bears do go into a deep sleep during the winter months, known as torpor.”
Hang on. What was that Alexa? Did you just say that bears don’t hibernate? I am pretty sure that’s what I heard. It appears that I haven’t become the Daniel Baldwin of the family after all and indeed it is I, Ches, that shall carry the smug grin of a James Ormond for the remainder of the festive period.
“Bears don’t hibernate, they just take a bloody nap you bunch of Chris Packham `wannabies’. Oh, and while we are at it, Quokkas don’t hibernate either, unless the snow exceeds 10cm on Rottnest Island and that hasn’t happened for something like 20,000 years. So, there you have it, Ches officially wins Christmas 2018 you muppets.”
As you may be able to tell, it was a long old winter this year, with very few highlights, apart from the Quokkas presentation evening (Jordon stripping up to the waist during the karaoke didn’t really happen did it?), finally seeing Chekhov’s The Seagull and officially crowning Australia as the world’s most useless cheats (who’d of thought that if you shipped criminals, caught because they weren’t very good at committing crimes, half way round the world, leave them to breed on an Island for 230 years, they’d turn out to be underhand sportsman without the ability to conceal it). So, when the call went out for the first Quokkas game of the new season, never mind the fact I have developed tennis elbow, hardly moved from my work/armchair for six months and had promised to look after the niece/nephew that weekend (I hear Alexa is free), I was a `yes, count me flipping in Skip’. Eight other Quokkas came out of their hibernation to face the Whalers too and with a break in the rain and the standard three jumper weather nowhere to be seen, it was game on.
With Skip, suffering from a torn calf brought on by excessive stretching to retrieve dropped cake, it fell to The Quokka’s most successful and tactically astute captain, The Egg, to lead us to victory.
The End. [Ed: Aye? What do you mean `the end’?]
You really want me to wax lyrical for the next ten minutes about an Aussie breaking the Quokkas scoring record, getting two caught and bowled wickets and claiming the first five points in the bestest and fairest competition? [Ed: When you put it like that…]
I’m only kidding. When you’ve just witnessed an innings that requires Norris McWhirter’s attention, the last thing I’d ever want to do is gloss over it completely and just talk all about me for 934 words. So, let me try and picture the scene. For those Quokkas unable to frequent the Kings House Sports Ground on Sunday, what we witnessed was a complete and utter demolition of the Whalers bowling attack on what was a slow, tricky, pudding of a pitch. Pulls, drives, cuts, more drives, lofted drives, and some lofted right out of the park drives, all interspersed by some solid defence and shot selection, patient stroke play and for once, some half decent running too. Faggie, you may have been replaced by some random hipster on the Wren Kitchen adverts, but I can’t imagine Conor Short scored 125 not out (a new Quokkas record) this week. [Ed: at the time of going to press we are waiting to hear back from his agent]
I was fortunate enough to watch a large part of the innings from the bowlers’ end [Ed: and helping towards a partnership of 171 runs, a new Quokkas record) and it was tremendous entertainment. Not just the sixes to long on and long off, but the timing of the cover drives too. Credit where credit is due, he got his head down, didn’t offer a chance throughout and thoroughly deserves this 161-word sarcasm free section of the match report. That part is now over though, which means I can stop gritting my teeth. Most importantly, from a Quokka point of view, this fabulous innings helped set a huge total of 251 (another new Quokkas record), giving us every chance of avoiding defeat.
Without Skip, cake was plentiful, but having to brew your own cuppa from a teabag drew minus points from me. Over said tea we discovered that Binman would be in touring to Berlin on his own, there was a gout epidemic and there was some ludicrous notion that Ronnie had gone tea-total. As fun as it is to imagine Roland now spending his accumulated free time pottering about in the garden, building Airfix models or painting with watercolours, we had a game to win.
Opening our bowling attack was The Attack, fresh from his self-imposed five-year sabbatical (he mentioned something about a marriage and kids). With a half tracker nearly taking the opening batsman’s head off and requiring Slick to scramble to 5th slip to prevent four byes, it was as if he never had been away. Once he found his usual `just short of just short of a length’, the first wicket became inevitable, with the opener caught in the covers. At the other end, to Slick’s relief, Hank bowled at the actual stumps and prospered when cleaning bowling the number 3. The third wicket soon fell, this time to Dac and again caught, leaving our opponents 49-3 after 14 overs and with considerable work to do.
Unlike my family gettogethers there is not a lot of sledging of the opposition in Sunday cricket. It’s all very friendly and to be honest that exactly how we want to keep it. Sledging our own players is a different matter, and with no opportunity to slight Faggie’s bowling yet, I was left with no choice but to point out that Binman looked every bit of his 50 years when chasing one to the boundary. My superiority looked misplaced when later he had to assist me getting the ball back to the keeper from the same boundary due to my failing arm. I think it’s fair to say that we are not getting any younger as a team, but there was no lack of effort and a fair amount of skill showed by our opening bowlers. That continued when Jatin and Fruity came on to bowl beautifully, with both taking a wicket, including that of a very stubborn opening bat. But, with neither able to dislodge Khalil, who made a solid 50, Faggie came on and claimed two excellent caught and bowled wickets in his three over spell, to add to his fine century.
With overs running out for the Whalers, The Egg increased the pressure by bringing himself on to bowl and he could have had several wickets, including a leg before that could only have avoided the stumps if it had gone under them. Not satisfied with bamboozling our opponents with his tunnel ball, Egg brought Binman on at the other end and he immediately found a rhythm. A slow one, granted, but an immediate length and line that troubled the batsman. I for one was disappointed to discover that we had completed our 35 overs and wouldn’t get to see more of the Binman’s bowling.
The Whalers innings ended at 165 for 7 with the Quokkas earned themselves a fine victory. At this point I usually try to link the concluding text back to my opening section, but I’m no Mark Waugh and no matter how good Faggie’s innings was, I’m certainly not going to mention him in the same breath as Steve Waugh. Thus, I’d better insert something else, so here is my half-finished review of The Seagull, starring some fella called Jared. Bat, bowl, field, act. Is there anything this lad can’t do?
Why a Seagull?
With the play of the same name set by a lake, would a gull not be more appropriate, or perhaps some other bird completely? I find myself pondering this question for far too long, when really I should have been carefully considering the symbolism of Konstantine delivering the shot bird to his lover’s feet during act II. Perhaps something was lost in translation and The Seagull should actually be The Gull or maybe the sea bird just ventured inland and suffered tragic consequences. My failure to move on from this potential glitch threatens to ruin my enjoyment.
For those unfamiliar with The Seagull, the first of Chekhov’s four major plays, it follows a Shakespearean look at unreciprocated love and tragedy. Tragedy is not something that tends to follow rejection these days and trying to empathise with Konstantine’s woes is a stretch for someone with only the memory of being ignored by the best-looking girl at school to work with. Despite unreturned infatuations, I struggle to appreciate the level of pain that leads to him taking his own life. That’s not to say that, after a rather nervy opening, a promising young Constantine didn’t bring some very realistic emotional toil and lost hope to the role, but in a `swipe left to see the next fish in the sea’ type world I found it very hard to place myself in his shoes.
Fortunately, audiences don’t frequent the Theatro Technis for another dose of reality and although this comedic tragedy failed to inspire me into greater emotional awareness, my lack of compassion doesn’t prevent me from embracing this late eighteenth century classic. That is especially true when the production ventured to offer some much-needed humour, delivered delightfully by Semyon. But sadly, such occasions are too infrequent for my liking, although a lack of timing throughout may have hidden them from me. There is certainly erstwhile and genuine passion displayed by some of the ensemble cast at times, Arkadenia doesn’t hold back during arguments, but one or two conversations by Yevgeny and Pjotr are delivered without conviction and even lost behind the crackle of toffee wrappers being opened. Critically the performance flowed, with assured performances from Trigorin, Andreyevna and Nina, allowing the audience to be immersed in the inevitable love triangles that can be found at every turn.