Clarke: The rare combination
On radio 882 6pr in Perth last Sunday, I predicted Australia was going to win the 1st Test easily and they did thanks to the inspired selection of Mitchell Johnson and some other brilliant performances but the moment of the match came in the dying overs when the Australian Captain did what the Australian public have wanted him to do for a very long time.
I am a Michael Clarke fan. And seeing as the Stones are coming to town, I’ll steal their famous phrase; you can’t always get what you want. We all want a fierce, gritty, aggressive Captain like AB coupled with the flair, style and the ability to make Test attacks look like grade attacks like Mark Waugh but the two rarely go hand in hand. And just as the sun was setting on the ‘Gabba, Michael Clarke gave us a glimpse at the rare combination we have long been hoping he would.
It’s easy to understand how he polarised the Australian public since his arrival on the international cricket scene. The bleached blonde hair, the expensive car and the diamond earring; he’s hardly the average Aussie punter. People either loved him or hated him.
Clarke has won many people over with his performance on the field but he still had doubters. He lost a lot of fans after the truth of the dust up with Simon Katich became public knowledge. After all, there’s nothing better than sinking a few cans with your mates after a great win and all your team mates will tell you, leaving the boys to hang out with your missus is extremely frowned upon. Ask @thegradecricketer.
So what’s changed since the last test? Another hundred? The first test win for 12 months? No. What has changed the public opinion of Australia’s Test Captain came in a spur of the moment sledge which indicated exactly how the skipper felt about the state of the game, what he felt for his team mates and how he felt the need to uphold the pride the nation has in its cricket team.
It wasn’t premeditated. It wasn’t a personal, spiteful jibe at an opposition player’s family or heritage. It wasn’t racist, sexist or in any way below the belt. It was just red mist.
The game was over. Australia had over 350 runs in the bank. England was 9 down. Here was a captain showing to his opponent, how much he wanted to win and how far he was willing to go. Fortunately for the Australian public, it was delivered into our living rooms by the nearest recording device. And we ought to be thankful. We were privy to folklore. A brief moment that will be replayed over and over representing the competitive Australian spirit. It was a statement we’ve heard while batting and from a teammate to an opponent while standing in the slips. Now, we’ve heard it from the Australian Captain himself. He was standing up for his team mates the exact same way we’ve done before, the same way we’ve had done to us and the way we’ve always wanted him to do. His 2nd innings was courageous. He stood up to a barrage of physical intimidation and showed men of will what will really was, as he’s done many times previous, but this moment meant more to us, the fans, than any hundred.
The image of him moving backwards to his fielding position, finger pointed at Anderson, touched a nation’s competitive nerve and judging by the public reaction, we bloody loved it.
Australia has long wanted to be able to identify with Clarke; after all, the Australian Captaincy is the most coveted employment position in our country, more important than the Prime Minister. Now, finally, we can and it’s thanks to his killer instinct surfacing in a moment indicating the man’s extreme competitiveness and desire to win, for his Australian brothers, on and off the field.
It wasn’t that Australia pulled England’s pants down in the 1st Test. It wasn’t that Clarke’s men provided everyone with an interest in cricket in Australia, the ammunition to silence our dentally challenged friends from abroad. Clarke’s popularity is now at its absolute peak is because, with the game seemingly in the bag, he still had enough ‘see you next Tuesday’ in him to let the opposition number 11 know that if he wanted to beat an Australian cricket team, he needed to be willing to risk everything, including broken limbs, to have any chance.
Now, Clarke is more than just Ricky’s replacement. He’s more than his diamond earrings, expensive car and trophy wife. He’s just like us. He’s just an average Aussie punter who, with a game of cricket on the line, will go to every length to win.
Runs, wickets and catches are the currency of matches, but actions like this earn respect and respect is the greatest currency of all.
Get ready for a brilliant f*****g series.
Shield Cricket: Demise or Decline?
As a guy who has been in state systems for 8 years (granted I didn’t play as much as some) this is purely my opinion, nothing more
The first test at Trent Bridge gave the Australian public a renewed sense of pride in their cricket team after a narrow loss. The emergence of debutant Ashton Agar buoyed a nation. Philip Hughes, Steve Smith and Brad Haddin all played innings of character, which we associate with our Australian side and our fast bowlers were those angry, intimidating men we’ve grown fond of. This series would live up to the hype after all.
This hype seemed short lived and people have been vocal in the media after Australia’s poor showing in the second test at Lord’s. There have been many excuses; changing the coach 3 weeks before the series began, unsettled team, batting order structure and disciplinary issues, which are all potentially valid. One excuse however, holds less merit than the aforementioned; the emergence of T20 cricket as a format on the domestic and international stage.
I can already hear your comebacks.
Yes, the shield season has been shuffled to accommodate the BBL, however the 10 game season has remained constant. Players need to adapt and invest time in their own game. (Something Chuck has been correctly vocal about.)
Yes, Australian players now play in various T20 leagues all over the world, IPL, BPL, SLPL (defunct), WIPL, UKT20 and even in the New Zealand T20 competition. But how many of the Australian players have missed Test matches (or any international fixture) to represent their T20 franchises? Tait? Dan Harris? They chose those leagues over grade cricket, and if you were them, why on earth wouldn’t you?
England invented the T20 game, India further developed it into their own league and both countries are respectively ranked 2 and 3 in Test match cricket.
Another excuse, perhaps the most pertinent, is that the strength of Sheffield Shield cricket is declining. I would take it one step further and bring it back to grass roots, structure, pathways and the talent management below Shield cricket.
For me, the introduction of the Futures League competition to replace State 2nd XI was the first major issue. This setup is akin to pulling the lower slates out of a Jenga tower and expecting it to remain tall and sturdy.
Age restrictions, which initially required that 7 out of 11 players are under 24 years old, (it has now been revised to 6/12) turns what was once a strong competition comprising senior fringe State players, sprinkled with the odd teenager (think S Marsh, Ferguson, Paine) into a glorified juniors competition.
By introducing these age restrictions, the likelihood of older (players over 30) state players playing grade cricket, in an attempt to regain a 2nd XI or state spot, diminished considerably. Think of the calibre of players we might have had, still playing. Not only do these players add to the quality of competition around, but also, they rapidly accelerate development of the odd teenager who has earned his place in the 2nd XI side.
Now, in recent times, players like Dan Harris (potential Australian T20 representative), Ben Laughlin (who represented Australia in ODIs), Cameron and Jason Borgas, James Smith and (from perhaps 2-3 years ago) guys like David Bandy are no longer featuring as much in these competitions (and I’m sure the list goes on and on in other states.) You’re telling me, these players are no longer needed because they’re on the wrong side of 24? A game where Mike Hussey didn’t debut for Australia until he was 30? A Rabbi walks into a bar with a pig under his arm…
When I first started playing grade cricket, fringe WA players like Rob Baker, Kade Harvey, Gavin Swann, Michael Clark, Darren Wates and Mark Atkinson were all still playing. Matthew Nicholson was (unjustly) in the 2nd XI along with a young up and coming 25-year-old player like David Bandy. Throw into the mix, a young Shaun Marsh (granted, a genius) and the 2nd XI was one that could challenge a Shield team. Shaun’s development must have been accelerated facing similar opposition players as opposed to kids his own age.
You answer me; would a kid aged 18 develop quicker if he is forced to face (in a 2nd XI) Gary Putland coming back from injury, Peter George, Jake Haberfield and Kane Richardson (if not in shield side) or four 21 year old bowlers? (Those players were selected on an absolute random basis – first 4 to come into my head)
If CA want another tier in which to inspect young talent, (aside from the 15s, 17s, 19s) pathways, an implementation of a state under 21s/23s tournament (2 week carnival like the rest) should be an option while abolishing any age restrictions on 2nd XI competitions. Why not make every level of competition, as strong as it could possibly be? You don’t build a house on a foundation of balsa wood.
The bottom slates of the Jenga tower have been removed and now that we are minus the household names of Ponting, Hussey, Gilchrist, Martyn, Langer, Hayden from the magical era, the tower is, unfortunately for us passionate supporters, starting to wobble.
The Night I Met Mr. Benaud
I have never been to an Allan Border Medal night so I was quite surprised when I found out I was invited to attend, not just as a guest, but as a co-host of a live red carpet stream.
“Me? Are you serious? What the hell am I going to say to Ponting and Clarke? No chance. Tell them I’m not interested.”
And so at 5:10pm, Scotch in hand, I was discussing with Callum Ferguson, all the potential ways I was going to make a fool of myself in front of however many people were tuned in to the live stream. Oh yeah, live. If you screw up, there’s no going back. No cut, can we try again. Definitely one of the more difficult prospects I’ve encountered.
The night kicked off without real issue and I didn’t get nervous until the last 10 minutes when the 3 big guns began to wander down the carpet. Watson, Ponting and lastly, Clarke. What to say?
When all else fails, self deprecate. Shane’s 8 month pregnant wife, Lee, was a picture of grace and they shared a laugh with us.
Ricky was next. What to say to a bloke who you grew up watching on TV?
“Ricky, I was hoping you’d walk down the red carpet with a goatee and your baggy green.”
Please be well received.
“I’d have to wind the clock back a while to do that, Theo.”
Hearing RTP say my name out loud was odd.
“Great to see you Rick, although I’ve seen quite a lot of you lately. I’m well and truly familiar with my brace position.”
Taking the piss out of our greatest captain. You idiot.
“Ah, I don’t look forward to flying Qantas now!”
All my concerns of being a unwelcome amongst Australian cricket royalty were my own and unfounded.
Upstairs at the dinner, my table consisted of Doolan, Ferguson, North, Blewett, Wayne Phillips, Alderman, Maher and Greg ‘Mo’ Matthews, who at one stage put his hand on my leg and said I was “very good looking.” Cue my exit to another table.
It wasn’t til the event was complete that the highlight of my night materialised. I might never have had this chance again, but full of courage, I was going to approach the doyen. The man himself. Choo for chewnty choo. M-a-r-v-e-l-l-o-u-s. Mr. Richie Benaud.
Sitting quietly at his table (table 3, front row, centre) he was flanked by his wife Daphne and a mingling group of admirers.
“Whatever you do, don’t interrupt Richie. He hates being interrupted.”
Ok. He was by himself. Now or never.
“Good evening Mr Benaud, I’m Theo. I’ve played cricket for WA and SA and I wanted to thank you for doing what you did with World Series Cricket. If not for Mr Packer and yourself, my generation wouldn’t be able to live as they do from the game.”
“Well, thank you. Of course, I’d never met Kerry Packer. Someone suggested I do and since we were members of the same golf club, I thought, why not? As long as he paid me as much as he played his highest paid player, I was happy.”
Richie then told us a 10 minute story on how he forged a friendship with Kerry and accepted his offer to be the face of WSC.
“At the time, the Australian Cricket Board wasn’t treating their players very well.”
“They treated them with contempt.” I added. I committed the cardinal sin. Shit. And moreover, how the hell would I know?
Richie stopped and stared at me, prompting a cold sweat. There was 3 seconds of silence, felt like 3 minutes.
“Young man, that…is one of the most excellent pieces of phraseology….I’ve ever heard. Contempt is absolutely…spot on.” (Re-read that sentence in Benaud’s voice. “I’ve ever heard” pronounced as it was one word. It’s far more enjoyable.)
“Would it be possible to have a photo please Richie?”
“Well, there we have a problem because I’ve already said no to 28 requests tonight but I can’t see myself saying no to request 29. As long as there’s no flash.”
We took the photo and he asked if I was happy with it, adding he’d have another one if I wasn’t happy. I thanked him once again and left grinning from ear to ear. It was then I turned around to try and find my mate Dave who was with me. He was nowhere to be seen. I waited for a second or two; the crowd cleared and there was Dave. Someone was under his arm. It was Daphne Benaud.
The Guide to Being a Successful Fast Bowler
It’s the unwritten rule of cricket teams. Fast bowlers are the eccentric, the angry and the comedic guys of the change room. They are constantly listening to heavy metal music, more often than not, whilst in the nude. When provoked, the fast bowler detests fun and smiles of any kind, preferring only snarls and glares fuelled by red mist, as they are supposedly, the only blokes in the team who really care.
We need them to win games. They frighten the opposition with their own unique brand of intimidation and consider themselves the unluckiest cricketers to ever play the game. Everything and everyone is against them. The pitch is too flat, the wind is blowing in the wrong direction and this umpire never gives LBW’s.
But surely there is more to the fast bowler than just having 5 pairs of boots and 3 kilos of strapping on their toes? Like always, I’m glad you asked. If you aspire to be a fast bowler, read on, as you’ll need to master these skills.
1) Preparation is everything, therefore, at training it’s imperative to stretch. For at least 45 minutes. Once the sun has just begun to set behind the grandstand and the shadows are covering the nets, then and only then can you tell the net captain you’re ready to bowl. Picking up the newest ball you can find, steam in and bowl to the 3rd grade opening batter. You are expected to bowl 50% of balls as bouncers whilst landing with your back foot on the front crease. When someone tells you that you’re bowling large no balls, your reply is simple. “I never bowl them in games.”
2) Before your first ball as you stand at the top of your mark ready to breathe fire at some weedy little opener, turn to mid off and bowl 3 balls. Make sure they explode off the grass such that mid off has trouble taking them above his head. Then bowl him a half volley so he misses it and has to chase it. This will give the illusion that you’re letting them go so quickly, the batter has no chance. Remember, appearance is everything.
3) When you eventually pitch one up and it gets driven through the covers for 4 runs, stand in the middle of the wicket looking surprised. Yell at the nearest fielder that he should have stopped it. Motion that you expected the ball to swing a tad more and as the batter runs past, quietly remind him “that’s the last one you’re getting in your half, prick.” Who does he think he is?
4) Bouncers are your weapon of choice. When you bowl one, 3 things can happen. It could go for a boundary. If this happens, pretend you didn’t mean to bowl a bouncer, immediately walk back to the popping crease and start scratching away with your spikes, indicating you slipped. Ask if anyone around the ground has a mallet, then check your boot to make sure everything is stable. Get back to your mark and drop square leg out to where the previous ball went. Now this is important, the next ball must be pitched up on the stumps. The batter will never expect it. Genius.
5) As a fired up fast bowler, you should only speak 7 words* to the umpire throughout the day. “Why the f**k is that not out?” When an LBW appeal is turned down, use the bowlers’ catchphrase then, when the umpire says “it pitched outside off stump” or my personal favourite, “it hit him outside off and was missing leg,” then you explain to him that he doesn’t accurately know the rules of the LBW law. Loudly repeat his answer so that everyone can hear it then take twice as long to walk back to your mark. Take a detour via mid-on and garner his thoughts. Of course he’s going to agree with you, he’s shit scared of you. Bowl the next ball and make a joke with the umpire to smooth things over. Then when he turns down the next appeal, revert back to the fast bowlers’ mantra.
*(You may also tell the umpire “I will only appeal when it’s out.”)
6) If, at any stage, a batter flicks you to fine leg for runs, shout “one!” at the fielder indicating that he must keep it to one. Brilliant. Because otherwise he wouldn’t have known that. If, somehow, the batters run 2, a glare is to be directed at the guilty fielder. You won’t have to say anything but he will know exactly what you are thinking. Never mind that his dive saved a certain boundary, get up him for conceding that second run. You and only you know what the most important thing about being a fast bowler is. Figures in the paper the next morning.
7) This one is simple. Dropped catches require a minimum of 10 seconds of staring at the bloke who dropped it. If it’s in the slips (it will never be 1st slip if he’s been reading) suggest to the captain that you want the guilty fielder moved to deep backward square and replaced with someone else. That’ll give him some time to think about how he’s going to make it up to you. And we all know 3 stubbies in the rooms after the game is nowhere near enough. He has to pay for your first Keith Urban and coke jug as well. If someone drops a catch for your 5th wicket or more, he owes you a slab. And potentially a female relative.
8) When you complete your over, you must field only where the drink bottle is at fine leg. When your skipper moves you, do as he says but slowly wander back towards your beverage. The next time the captain looks, you should be back swigging ice-cold lemon barley cordial in the shade. In the unlikely event that the captain grabs your attention and tells you to stop bowling, place your hands on your hips and instead of quietly chatting to him between overs, yell something along the lines of “You f*****g serious?” then kick leaves on your way back to your drink. Never mind that you’ve gone for 55 off 9, you’re easily the team’s best bowler.
9) When you’re walking back to your mark, if mid-off throws the ball anywhere but straight into your breadbasket, leave it. Let him go and chase it. You’ve already punched out 15 overs, last thing you’re going to even consider is bending down and catching a low ball return. And mid-on isn’t going to get it for you because he’s at leg gully.
10) Lastly, when you start your run up, if the batter pulls away at any point, continue running in while hurling abuse. Run through the crease and stand in the middle of the wicket asking “What the f**k is the problem?” You’re not going to take this rubbish. It’s bloody hot and you’ve got a fit bird lined up tonight.
So there you have it. All it takes to be a bowler. Top of off, outswinger and then one at the pads, occasional bouncer. Wash, rinse and repeat over and over. The fast bowler is to lead the charge on the circuit and with the birds. I mean, the birds are only human. The queue starts on the left, ladies. But you are obligated to ignore them while you talk cricket with the boys.
Finally, this will be the last guide to. Thanks to everyone who read, shared, commented and had a laugh.
The Guide to Being a Successful 1st Slip
Twitter - @theodrop
The Guide to being a Successful 1st Slip
People say the best position to watch cricket from is Mid-Off. I disagree because the ball finds you far too often. I would suggest that the ideal position is 1st slip for a few reasons. The top three being - you don’t have to run, you can tell stories and you don’t have to run. But fielding in the slips is hard. The ball comes fast and if you drop a chance, you feel like the worst bloke in the world but once you realise what your actual purpose of fielding in the slips is, you’ll soon forget all about taking catches.
The main reasons you’re in the slips are because you’ve either played the most games, are the best sledger, the best player or you are best mates with the skipper. But is fielding in slips all about practising your golf swing and refusing to grab the helmets at the end of the over? Absolutely not. As 1st slip, you are required to be the most immaculately dressed player on the field. You should have a distinct zinc pattern and at least 2 available pairs of glasses, which you should wear on the back of your head and upside down. But what else is there to fielding 1st slip? Great question. Allow me.
1) During warm up, you should participate in a nicking drill with your fellow slips fielders. After 3 throws, if the batter hasn’t been able to nick a catch at a comfortable height to you, loudly suggest he doesn’t have the ability. When there is an errant throw, again suggest that it isn’t a difficult concept to throw a ball in a general area. Wait until your mates have caught 5 balls in 15 attempts and walk inside continuing to sledge the bloke nicking however, never, in any circumstance should you offer to help out by nicking balls yourself.
2) The first thing you should do when fielding in the cordon is position yourself correctly. Ensure that you are close to the wicket keeper’s right shoulder and 2nd slips left shoulder. Your positioning will determine how many fast, stinging balls will come in your direction and if you get this absolutely correct, the answer will be none. You may as well carry your phone and a paper with you. I’d suggest even sitting in a deckchair however these are difficult to carry in between overs. If 2nd slip is positioned incorrectly and the ball finds its way between you both, blame him loudly, tell him not to worry about missing that catch and suggest he better do better with the next chance that comes his way.
3) A pre-requisite of fielding in slips is the ability to tell a good yarn that spans at least 5 overs. Not only will this keep the lads jovial during a long partnership but they will also make the arduous task of fielding, go faster. These stories must include as many sexual anecdotes as possible. Feign interest in the game by having a go at the youngest member on the team or by stopping the bowler mid run-up to suggest a vague field change resulting in the point fielder moving 3 steps to his left, 1 back, 2 to his right, 3 in and one to his right again. Continue your story and only interrupt again to engage in a verbal joust with the opposition opening batter.
4) If at any stage, some pathetic opposition player manages to outside edge a ball in your direction and it bounces before you, this should automatically be 4 runs. Pick yourself up after your aesthetically pleasing dive and stare at the ground making elaborate gestures indicating how poor a bounce you received. Look at 2nd slip and politely suggest that the ball was more in his vicinity than yours. However, if a batsman times the absolute cover off one, which bounces awkwardly towards the cover fielder causing him to misfield, launch into a loud, expletive laden tirade. After all, we have standards to uphold.
5) As we’ve already established, looks are the pivotal factor in being in the slips. When your opening bowler is getting the ball through with considerable bounce, emulate the wicket keeper as he takes the ball. Pretend to watch the ball all the way in. After he’s thrown it to 3rd slip, call for it. Give the ball a token shine, just enough so it looks good but doesn’t leave a stain on your whites, then, in an attention seeking fashion, run towards mid-off and practice your out-swinger. Of course, you don’t want to bowl but you want everyone to know that you have the ability to do so.
6) Sledging is a vital part of fielding in slips. Some call it gamesmanship, some call it mental disintegration but for us regular folk, it’s telling a batter that he’s shit and wouldn’t make the 2nds at your club. Merely telling him he hasn’t scored in front of point all day isn’t enough. You should endeavour to talk at him for as long as you can, especially when the bowler begins his run up. This will prompt the batter to pull away and look in your direction. Meekly raise your hand in a token gesture of insincere apology. When he takes guard again, resume your scathing tongue-lashing suggesting he’s weak and even his teammates don’t like him. If he does it again, you now have a perfect opportunity to use the time tested, “Don’t worry about us mate, you just worry about batting.” (Sometimes condensed to “Just f*****g bat, mate). If, for some reason, he does it a 3rd time, don’t say anything. The rest of your teammates will be yelling at him and he won’t be able to hear your witty comments.
7) At times, the game will meander. An opposition batter dying to keep his spot will be playing a gritty innings that has seen him move to 15 off 80 balls. Yawn. Surely there’s something more productive you could be doing with your time. Let me tell you what it is. Like most cricketers, you probably like golf or pretend to do so. What better time than now to practice a range of golf swings? Get your mate at 2nd slip and pretend to play the first 3 holes of your favourite course. Practice drivers, irons, wedges and even the odd putt. Take this one step further and call for the ball in between overs. Roll it down the middle of the wicket and see if anyone stops it before it hits the stumps. Stop to pick up the ball, mark centre and play a few shots. Walk slowly to your position, delaying the start of the next over. No better way to send a message to your opposition that they are boring the absolute piss out of you.
8) Another important part of fielding at 1st slip is having a great ability to appeal and celebrate a wicket. If a batter is hit on the pad, appeal loudly while advancing towards the bowler. If it is given out, you’ll be in prime position to congratulate him first. If it’s given not out, you’re in a prime position to revisit point 6. When an opposition batter is bowled, barge through your fellow slip fielders to reach the bowler first. If you’re going to do something, do it properly. If a wicket falls to a catch and it was taken by anyone but you, congratulate the bowler and suggest to the fielder that it was a regulation catch that should have been taken by anyone. However when you take one (if you’ve failed to position 2nd slip correctly) take off on a casual jog towards square leg, tossing the ball nonchalantly to the umpire and when the team embraces you, tell them how the ball deviated through the air, came twice as quick as you expected and was a genuinely tough chance. As if they could tell from cover anyway.
9) Occasionally, some lucky batter will hit a boundary. Are you going to just stand there and applaud or go fetch the ball? Neither. Seeing as it’s late in the 2nd session, you should use this time to stretch an allegedly sore groin or hamstring. Not only will this indicate to your teammates, opposition and spectators that you are extremely professional, but will give you a great chance to sit down for 10 seconds or so. No one likes to be on their feet for 6 hours straight. Plus, your feet are sore from last night’s escapades on the tiles.
10) Finally, as a 1st slip, it is a given that your opinion is highly regarded. Therefore you should be able to deliver good advice to your teammates. Casually stroll towards the bowler during the middle of the over, hand him the ball and point to various areas of the field making confusing gestures. When done, mention to him how he ought to pitch it up. Walk back slowly while openly delivering a critique of the batsman’s technique to point and mention how much the ball is doing. When the captain asks you if there is any movement, your reply should always be ‘yes’. The minute you say no, he might be inclined to question the necessity of the slips cordon. If the opposition are on top on a flat wicket, keep your eyes lowered, away from the captain’s gazes. If he can’t get your attention, you will remain in the cordon. Remember, you should be all care, no responsibility.
So there you have it, don’t be fooled into thinking that the guy at 1st slip is the best catcher in the team. In fact, most batters consider themselves highly unlucky if they are caught in the slips. He is merely the senior member of the side, the best sledger or the captain’s best mate. Don’t ever expect him to get the bowler’s hat, pick up short leg’s helmet at the end of the over or back up a throw. As we’ve seen, he has plenty to worry about as it is.
The Guide to Being a Successful 12th Man
So you’ve trained your ass off for weeks, extra batting sessions, bowling sessions and you even helped the coach change his flat tyre one night after training. After all of this, you finally get rewarded with selection in the team. But all the hopes you had of scoring a century in a session, knocking over the opposition skipper with the first ball of your spell or playing any meaningful part in the game at all have been ruined because you’re 12th man. Right? Bullshit.
I don’t care what level of cricket you play, you’ve just been handed the most important job in the game. Coaches, captains, umpires, as integral to the game as they may appear, no one has as much responsibility as the 12th man. The outcome of the game may hinge on runs and wickets provided by the blokes actually playing, but what you do over the course of the game will help your team-mates score runs and take wickets. Without you, they’d have no hope.
Here are 10 simple pointers to help you be the best 12th man you can be.
1. Arrive at the ground 2 minutes before the scheduled meeting time. That way, any over enthusiastic, paranoid team mate wanting to have extra hits or extra catches, has to do this with one of your other team mates or a coach. You’ll have enough to do today as it is.
2. Sit quietly in the team meeting and when your opportunity arises, voice your opinion on a member of the opposition. This should contain no technical or tactical advice on how to get him out, nor information on what he bowls, merely that he’s a shit bloke who drives a shit car. And you once pashed his sister on the dance floor of The Woolshed after the club cocktail night. The boys will need this added information to throw him off his game.
3. So you’ve won the toss and you’re batting. Feet up? Not just yet. It’s now that you must spring into action. Batters 1-5 will need to hit half volleys and cut shots to get in the right frame of mind. But that means you’re going to have to throw balls at them for the next half an hour, right? Not necessarily. When the opening batter walks into the nets, make sure that your shoulder is cold and tell him you’ll take a good 5 minutes to get warm. During this 5 minute period, throw as many yorkers, full tosses and balls down the leg side as possible while groaning loudly.
IF he is still in the net and awaiting your A material, throw the exact opposite of what he has requested. Grab the newest ball you can find and throw out-swingers on a good length. Nip a few back into his thigh and if you can, nail him in the box. The other batters will see the opener’s frustration and when he walks out of the net, throws his bat and clutches his sore balls, be sure to turn around, smile and ask, “Who’s next?” At this point, the rest of the batters will choose to have a warm up hit in another net.
*And if you’re bowling and have to run a fielding drill, what better time than now to have a ‘rolled ankle.’ Time for a toasted sandwich.
4. There’s 15 minutes until the first ball. The openers are preparing to go out to battle, while numbers 3 and 4 are donning their pads and whites. This is a crucial time in the game where players may give you instructions as to where their spare set of gloves are, which bat they need to use if their trusty Kookaburra Bubble breaks or which drink they’d prefer. Make sure at this time, you’re nowhere to be seen. Make yourself a sanga, light up your post warm up dart or check the TAB form. After all, you’ve warmed up and are hungry too. Plus, the tip you got from your next-door neighbour looks good at $9 and jumps in 17 minutes.
5. At drinks, walk out in your thongs, shorts and radio to listen to the races. It is at this stage, your teammates will ask where you’ve put their powerade or special tasting drink formula. Tell them they’re grown men and if they’re not happy with water or black and gold lemon barley cordial, mixed at either piss weak or ultra strong strength, that’s their problem.
6. If at any stage, one of the batters raises his hand and begins to wave, it means he wants something. It is your job to keep him waving for as long as possible, to the point where his only option is an extremely loud “Oi!” If he calls for a change of gloves, you should wander into the change rooms as slowly as you can, stopping to talk to the team manager and anyone else you find along the way. Check your phone for any messages and then pick up 4 gloves, of which none are a matching pair. Look out the window and wait until the end of the over.
By now, your mate will be looking anxiously to see where you are. At the start of the next over, emerge with the gloves. He will either wave you away, saving you the long walk out there, or wave you on. Walk slowly onto the field, forcing him to run to meet you halfway. He will change gloves so quickly, because the bowling team is waiting for him, that by the time he realises the gloves aren’t a matching pair, you’ll be collecting your cash from Race 5 at Flemington. It is customary now to tell the boys how much you won. (This amount is to be tripled for the sake of the story.)
7. Every now and then, you’re going to play against a bloke with a gorgeous girlfriend. If you’re bowling, this is your lucky day. Assuming she has no life whatsoever, she’ll come down to the cricket to watch. Take a drink to the fielder closest to the girl so you can give her a good ogling. If you like what you see, go back and report to the lads that she’s a belter and grade her on the accepted cricket scale of 1-10 with 1 being the lunch lady upstairs at the club and 10 being the blonde who works behind the bar at The Botanica, you know, with the fake ones. Wash, rinse, and repeat. Days like this, you may have to take up to 10 drinks to the fielding position closest to her. Engage in conversation if her boyfriend is batting at the time. He won’t last the over once he sees this.
8. If you get selected as 12th man for your state, it is your goal to sign as many autographs as possible and when the opportunity arises to go and speak on the radio or to the local media, make sure you take it. Assign 12th man duties to the opener who was given out 3rd ball LBW when he clearly smashed it. He’ll be in the mood for it, don’t worry.
9. If, at any stage, you’re asked by friends, players of lower grades or attractive girls, why you’re not playing, your answer should be along the lines of “I’m being rested” or “I’m saving myself for the big derby next week.” Under no circumstances, should you tell people you’re not playing due to selection issues.
10. After the game, you should be showered by the time the others walk off the field. You should also be the first to help yourself to a cold beer. If any of your other wimpy team-mates are concerned with hydration or are thirsty for water, tell them to fetch it themselves. After all, you’ve earned this stubbie. When the wicket keeper complains that there’s no more hot water, say nothing, wait until he goes into the shower and tries again, unzip his cricket bag and turn it upside down. Little sook he is.
It’s also important to note that you should be first in line at the lunch buffet and the first to sample the sausage rolls and party pies at tea. When the umpires tell you there’s 5 minutes until play resumes after tea, your job is to stay and eat all the leftover food. If your team-mates request that you bring them some food, laugh and tell them, walking 10 metres to get their own will not hurt them and will be far more satisfying. After all, they didn’t look too tired when they took on the fat bloke in the deep for the 3rd run.
So there we have it, 10 simple points that will help you be a greater asset to your team as 12th man, if that indeed were ever possible. Next time, we’ll touch on your 12th man responsibilities whilst away on tour or indeed, away on cricket trip. The responsibility associated with these duties, in my opinion, are only rivalled by those of the President of the United States.
Fit For Televison?
A dangerous trend is emerging in our television culture whereby witty story lines and relatable characters are being exchanged for an inside glimpse into the socialite wife of an Australian multi millionaire. In a cheap grab for ratings, some networks choose to insult the intelligence of the viewing public by glamorising the life of a scantily clad, cosmetically enhanced, helium voiced celebrities, in this case Brynne Edelsten. The show is summed up brilliantly by Ms. Edelsten when she states, “Acting is a skill, it’s kind of like dancing, but with talking.” Thankfully, the only work she does in hospitals, is as a patient.
Known purely for wearing a revealing dress at the Brownlow Medal celebrations three years ago, the wife of one of Australia’s richest men fills her days by completing mundane, self fulfilling tasks. The audience gets an insight into her wardrobe, her husband’s collection of cars, boats and planes. Lucky us. Which segment of society was in demand for this enlightening program?
Brynne: My Bedazzled Life, shows how a 29 year old Texan woman is but another who has found true love, a seemingly meaningless term in modern society, with a 70 year old Melbourne entrepreneur. It is clear to see; the origin of this show was a business lunch featuring an endless supply of French grapes and a bill longer than a phone number, paid for by someone else. Perhaps renaming the show, ‘Brynne: I’m in it for the money’ would be more suitable.
Brynne’s fantasy way of life, which her husband foots the bill for, glorifies the notion that it is an acceptable life goal to merely be an accessory to someone, but we cannot put the blame entirely on Mr. Edelsten. After all, he is not the first man with a small country’s deficit in his bank account to attract a leggy blonde with such ambition. Rest in peace Anna Nicole Smith, a pioneer of sorts.
Gone are the days of interesting character development, cringe-worthy awkward moments and genuine humour. Engaging story line? What does that mean? We have entered an age where the freak show of the super rich is the norm. Fine dining exchanged for fast food. Who in their right mind would exchange a fillet-mignon for a cheeseburger? The same people tuning into this program.
Given the current landscape, it is not surprising that networks are doing what all other businesses aim to do, fill their coffers. Integrity has been traded for, evidently, the only thing that matters to the creditors, money. Never has the phrase, ‘pins in the eyeballs’ been so relevant.
So if your imagination has deserted you and you have no interest in any aspect of life other than a real life Barbie doll fawning over her elderly husband, this show is for you. If, like me, you’d rather read the phonebook from start to finish, I’d avoid episode two like raw chicken.
Apart from all that, it was ok.