“I don’t play for this team to win. I play to have a bit of f**king fun”
Never has the intent of the Quokkas been better summed up. Not all opponents we come across get the ‘spirit of pub cricket’ but the boys from the Dan O’Connell sure do. We like playing them so much we have taken to ironically calling them the HATED Dan.
We encountered a late switch of venue from the postage stamp at the Kevin Bartlett Oval to the far more picturesque Burnley Oval. After some initial confusion from the hordes making their way across the City of Yarra this was greeted with general approval and by the end of the day plans were under way to switch the Curto family grudge match to the same venue.
The Dan took their good nature a little too far by only turning up with 7 players for our last scheduled regular season game. We offered to let them bat as they tried to drum up a few last minute replacements and congratulated ourselves on the impending victory when we had them 3-15 in the first 5 overs. Emu, Phantom, Paris and Cruiser (an Emu recruit from the Proteas via Moorabbin Park) got the bowling off to a fine start.
Captain Big Dog rung the changes with one over bowling spells the order of the day. At drinks the Dan were 5-63 but as has been common this season we relaxed after drinks and the Dan had a middle order revival, a retiree and boosted their numbers to nine. We took our good nature a little too far when we gave them our new recruit Freo Mike to bat at the end and he promptly hoisted his free hit for six before scrambling a couple of leg byes.
Somewhere in here Rev had a hissy fit in the process of getting hit for 3 successive fours that seemed to be everyone’s fault except his. He particularly seemed to direct his ire at his mild-mannered captain; the poor, defenceless, hard-working Big Dog. There were knowing looks from those who Paris had told earlier in the season of Rev’s teenage anger management issues and the real reasons behind why he was sent to London.
We finished with 8 wickets and the stylish Gladys took 4 of those behind the timbers. Emu and Phantom finished with two each with Cruiser, Paris, Rev and Bad Boy each picking up one. There were calls to only let Bad Boy play after a bucks night as he rolled back the years with a hangover/fiery bowling duet just like he used to. Having restricted the Dan to 135 we were confident of knocking them off. You can see what’s coming next.
The delay with the food at the break, a lack of coleslaw on offer and the hot weather combined to undo our batting effort. Rowdy and Bad Boy opened up and after clubbing 10 off the first over they combined to run our Bad Boy with a direct hit off a risky single. Dutchy clubbed his free hit for 6 over the left centre-field fence but Rowdy departed shortly afterwards and Big Dog’s post-Xmas form slump continued and the only trouble to the scorers was recording 7 dot balls.
Gladys and Rev came and went for a pleasingly symmetrical (though unhelpful) 7 each to leave us 5 wickets down and the run rate heading skywards. Dutchy top scored with 29 but was determined not to save anything to come back in at the end. In his own words “All bets were off as he sent down an absolute pie and I proceeded to loft it straight down the throat of midwicket”.
Emu and Phantom built our best partnership of the day and then captain Tom of the Dan offered us a lifeline by putting Rev on to bowl. This was all too much for Emu who already had some conspiracy theory about the Dan and their ever-changing team line up. He edged behind in the next over and as he seemed to be the only person in the suburb that hadn’t heard it he stood there all David Warner style waiting to be given out. We continued our generosity to the Dan by offering them two substitute fielders from our ranks and Gladys upped his catches for the day tally by catching Cruiser for 1.
J-Rod and Paris brought proceedings to a close as we crumbled to all out for 97. A defeat in pub cricket is always less important than the spirit you play the game in. The Dan even wanted to muscle in on our love affair with the John Curtin and suggested a tri-series. In any case visiting a pub like the Dan O’Connell after a loss never feels like a consolation prize. Big Dog was spotted there late at night staring into his Thunder Road Pale Ale and wondering if he would ever captain a winning side, or take another wicket, or hold onto a catch, or even score another run…