• On Sunday the Quokkas took on The Hated Dan O’Connell Hotel on the lush Fairlea West Oval, Yarra Bend Park.

    First and foremost it must be said that Sunday was a victory for cricket, in the sense that the game of cricket is infinitely richer for not bearing any resemblance to whatever it was that was played by the Quokkas on Sunday afternoon.

    Led for the first time by Local, the day got off to an ignominious start when it was discovered that no one had organised paper plates and sauces for the bbq. Choosing  to ignore that we live in a world which is connected by more devices, networks and communication tools than at any other time in history, both Local and Big Dog decided to go it alone and get the plates etc. themselves without further consultation. The Quokkas are now well stocked for sauces and paper plates.
    The Quokkas opened the batting with Dutchy and Joe, both of whom negotiated some tricky swing and movement form the Dan’s fast men to quickly begin laying the foundations of a good innings. Knowing that the Quokkas had failed to defend 150ish on this same ground several weeks earlier, both batsmen appeared determined to score quickly and heavily. And despite the fact that appearances can sometimes be deceptive, they both succeeded. Dutchy was first to reach retirement, making 35 well-struck runs, followed soon after by the un-Quokkaly talented Joe.
    They were replaced at the crease by first Cupsy and then – in a move that had surprised no one more than the man himself – Shotgun. It seemed Local was prepared to make bold and/or uninformed captaincy decisions at any moment.
    Cupsy opened his account with a boundary and never looked back, and the Quokkas went to the drinks break at 0/90ish. Bold predictions were being made amid much back-slapping. Pup raised the possibility of 200+, and at this stage who could deny a young man a dream? The Quokkas were flying, with batsmen in the shed and the runs coming – for the most part – easily.
    Shotgun began his innings a little more unsteadily than Cupsy had, with some dots on the scorecard that didn’t do justice to the kind of airy swings that they represented. However, he too started to find a rhythm, and by the time Cupsy had played his part and retired off a crisp 32 there was a feeling in the air that we might all be about to see something very special indeed.
    Not from JRod though, unfortunately coming and going without troubling the scorers on this occasion and bringing Pup to the crease for his usual solid contribution.
    The main event was unfolding at the other end however, as Shotgun began to act like his namesake, scattering the ball to all corners of the ground, including two hits that cleared the rope. By the time Pup had been replaced by Big Dog, Shotgun was approaching 30 and a well-earned retirement. It was a big innings that had the crowd on their feet.
    After Shotgun’s departure the innings progressed amiably towards its close, aside from one moment when Big Dog was nearly cleaned up by a beamer that seemed to follow his head as he took rapid (and thankfully successful) evasive  action. He, Local, Morts, Rainsy and Ed managed to drag the innings to 179 after 25 overs, a respectable target that had everyone feeling quietly confident as they enjoyed a beer and Dutchy’s excellent BBQ.
    The ground at Fairlea West can be described in many ways, most of which will rely on some variance of the words ‘dry’ and ‘hard’ to best create an accurate impression, and one of its key features is that any ball which is struck with force – or indeed without it – can run quickly to the boundary unless stopped by a well-placed fielder.
    This critical element was however lacking in the Quokkas bowling efforts up to the drinks break, as balls flew merrily into every available gap, stopped only on one occasion by a spectacular sliding effort from Joe which also ensured that there will forever be a small part of this not-so-foreign field that is forever Quokka (and that Joe may be limping all week).
    The confidence that had begun the fielding innings was starting to flag, but then Ed gave an inspirational speech at drinks which can be summed up as “we’re fucked”. With these stirring words spurring the Quokkas on, they turned the screws and started to dry up the boundaries, piling on the pressure until breaking through for their first wicket of the day, a nifty piece of glovework from Pup off Rainsy, in only the 18th over. The faintest hint of hope still glimmered and when Local improbably held a catch off Dutchy in the 20th the Quokkas had their tails up again.
    Unfortunately, the Quokkas also could not see the score at that point, and whatever momentum had been gained was quickly undone when – two runs later – the scorers called out to their batsmen to start shaking hands with the losing team.
    It wasn’t meant to be. Or – less fatalistically and more realistically – the Quokkas let a good chance to snare a win go through some loose bowling and fielding. Credit must go to the Dan also for some fantastic hitting, especially at the top of the order.
    However, the early finish in the 20th over meant an early trip to the Dan O’Connell for beers, which was well-attended by both teams, and the game was played in great spirit despite the result.
    Well done to all the Quokka batsmen who reached retirement, and thanks to everyone for turning out to play, it was a good afternoon out on the park.

    Posted by Rev @ 10:26 pm

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