A swift drive up to Blacktown saw the 2nd graders arrive at the pristine Joe McAleer Oval keen to finish their season on a high. The pitch was green, grassy but hard underneath offering the bowlers some assistance but enough pace for batters to play their shots if lengths were missed.
The Nerds won football warm up…nothing new to report there. Zaninno’s overhead bicycle kick was a standout highlight but was futile against the Nerd juggernaut who sunk 4 away to claim overall bragging rights for warm-up football for yet another season.
Gordon won toss and elected to bowl, hopeful of keeping Blacktown to a small total. With plenty of nip the opening batters started cautiously before beginning to free the arms. Searle picked up the first wicket with a delightful, yet unintended, slower ball deceiving the dangerous Hinds (who had made 140* out of 160 the last time these 2 sides met). Baker started his spell but briskly blew out his 15th shoe of the season, not even gaffer tape could help him and he was forced to borrow someone else’s right shoe. He looked a right pleb, but that’s Bakes and we love him for it xoxo
Wickets were frustratingly hard to come by, despite the pitch nipping around. Stickland and Cubbage then combined and bowled well in the middle overs restricting the batters and picking up 4 wickets between them.
Stickland was on a hat trick but couldn’t convert (much like his Bumble account).
Tinder* Not fooling anyone Stickers. P.S well bowled.
At 5/110 it was looking good for the Stags, however their number 8 had other ideas scoring 60-odd off as many balls which eventuated with Blacktown scoring 222. A par score we agreed, but lamented missing the opportunity to dismiss them for lower.
Tony Clarke, their miserly dibbly-dobber opener, only needed 4 wickets to bring up an unprecedented 1000 grade wickets. Our batting plan was to sit on Tony Clarke, deny him his 1000th wicket and cash in on the other bowlers. Unfortunately, Tony Clarke happened and he picked up 3 wickets in 4 overs, with the 3rd wicket bringing screams of “one more, one more”
Robert Michaels was a standout, hitting his 4 half-century in as many games and looking at ease on the helpful Joe Mac wicket. Other than that there was not a lot to report as Tony Clarke waited for the tail to enter.
Sure enough, Stickland entered at 8/120 and Clarke handed his cap over to the umpire sensing a golden opportunity to capture his 1000th wicket. Unfortunately for Clarke he decided to use all 32 seasons of sledging instead of all 999 grade wickets worth of experience in dismissing batsmen. Stickland picked up on this rather quickly and decided that an angry Tony Clarke was less likely to get him out and therefore seized every opportunity to antagonise the 52 year old veteran. I thought I’d share these with you for some light entertainment:
Tony Clarke: “Play a shot! Try and win the game! Play a f-ing shot! You're an embarrassment to 2nd grade cricket”
Stickland: *laughs and winks suggestively at him
Umpire: That’s over and drinks
TC: Do we actually need them!? These blokes aren’t playing an f-ing shot, what’s the point?
DS: Yer we do, I’m thirsty
TC: You’re f-ing kidding me
*Repeated demands of “Play an f-ing shot! Try and win the f-ing game!”
Tony Clarke bowls his 10th and final over to Stickland and fails to take the elusive 1000th wicket. As he silently walks past the mid-pitch conversation between Stickland and Searle: DS: “Gee it’s gone quiet all of a sudden”
TC “You’re f-ing kidding me! What a f-ing great achievement keeping me from a 1000, you must be really f-ing happy. I guess you’ll start playing some f-ing shots now”
DS: “You know what I think I will, just to make you happy” *winks
It was honestly so enjoyable to annoy this absolute flog of a cricketer and deny him his 1000th wicket. The fact he had to abuse and berate two tail-end batsmen in an attempt to get them out rather than use all his experience was, frankly, arrogant, disrespectful to the spirit of the game and marred his achievement as he was simply the most unpleasant person I’ve shared a cricket field with. If only he was humble, I may have left a straight one to help him out!
Stickland started playing some shots and nicked off 2 overs later and Searle followed not long after to finish all out for 141 and consign the under-performing 2nd graders another loss. It hasn’t been our season with either the batsmen or bowlers failing to fire, often at the same time. Winning is a habit and unfortunately it’s been a hard habit to break into. The team has plenty of talent, at least 5 of our regular players have 1st grade experience, we are learning after each loss and it will only be a matter of time before this team starts to consistently compete and play finals cricket. We did last season, remember?
Enjoy the off-season lads, recharge your batteries, stay fit and keen and see you all in August.