How to describe the Carlton Sixes?
Even in lockdown, with strict social distancing in place, the Carlton Sixes is a vibrant, colourful affair. Not even the twin distractions of Covid-19 and T16 finals day could detract from the enthusiasm of 6 squads, nearly 50 players, converging on Grange Loan for the annual end-of-season shindig. As a result of the 1s being absent, some of the teams had a distinctly youthful air, but the quality of cricket was undimmed, which served as yet another reminder of the incredible depth of talent in Carlton CC. There are few other sports in which families can compete together, or against each other, on level terms. True to form, the 2020 Carlton Sixes featured three families where three members were playing, and at least seven family pairs. Admittedly, not all families chose to play in the same team as each other … Ben & Max even captained separate teams. There are also few other sports in which such a large age range can compete against each other on (more-or-less) level terms. At a rough estimate, the youngest player in this year’s Sixes has only recently turned 7, whereas the oldest players will not see their 40s again.
In keeping with the carnival spirit, fancy dress was the order of the day. Sadly, there are no prizes for costume (we do still maintain the mantra that this is a festival of cricket), but if there were one, Leanne’s Lockdown Zoomers, resplendent in pyjama trousers, smart shirts & ties and wayward hair, would be runaway winners. Keith’s Koalas (complete with Aussie bush hats, snakes, koala backpacks and other down-under accoutrements) and Ru’s Reindeer (Christmas themed) caught the eye. Mo’s Footballers were wearing, well, football kit. Disqualified immediately. I’m afraid I never quite got to the bottom of the costume theme of Max’s Meercats or Ben’s Badgers; unless there is a Hawaiian genus of Meercat, I’m still somewhat baffled. Nonetheless, the vibrancy and colour on display would put an Amazonian parrot to shame.
Colin and Alasdair had prepared an excellent strip, true and straight, but with a wicked habit of catching careless batters unaware. In order to accommodate clusters of seats for each team, the Grange Loan boundary was brought in by a considerable margin. Since the boundary on the hill was unchanged from its usual configuration, and all bowling was from the Lovers Loan end to save time on changeovers, the pitch had a distinctly left-handed feel to it. This may explain Charles featuring near the top of the batting averages, also the unexpected appearance of Zaki’s hitherto unknown left-handed twin, and an infeasible number of attempted reverse sweeps and switch hits. Max’s team set up stall under the West wall, presumably so that food parcels could be lobbed over the wall to him, and he would have about 3m to go to get home. Somewhere between the teams, a table materialised, holding a dizzying array of electronics, where the scorer and Covid monitor plied their mysterious trades. Both roles appear to entail inscribing indecipherable hieroglyphics in ledgers, and chuckling menacingly at passers-by.
A report detailing blow-by-blow accounts of 15 games, however short, would try the patience of the most resilient reader, and this report wouldn’t want to do that. A sequence of vignettes stick in my mind.
- Max dropping flowers liberally over the pitch from his Lei. Would that have cost 5 penalty runs if the batter had hit the ball into a flower? Sadly, we’ll never know, as the umpire cleared up the flowers before the batter had a chance to hit them.
- The look of sheer delight on Charles’ face as he hit a six over the Grange Loan wall. It was bettered only by the look of even more delight when he repeated the feat on the very next ball.
- A very small elf running in to bowl, clad in a hula-skirt and a pixie hat. The baffled scorer entered “Elf” as the bowler until a positive identification was made at the end of the game. After two wides, Elf concluded that the hula skirt was to blame, shed it in mid run-up, and bowled a near-perfect rest-of-over. That must be one of the strangest items ever handed to the umpire to hold. (Editor’s note: Elf was later identified as Hamish F.)
- Dougal’s anguished cry of “Nooo” as he realised that his flat-hit six was going straight to Rory, cunningly placed on the cover boundary, who duly caught it.
- Keith spending the last six pool matches (I kid you not) carefully calculating his team’s optimum batting and bowling order for the final.
- Anish and Dilan batting together. I mean, how many of us dream of doing that?
- Ben S batting with James as a runner, and not getting into a comedy run-out muddle. Twice.
- Rory, batting with Richard, trying to go for an all-run 5 as the ball was hit towards the scoreboard, far from any fielder. Rory managed 5, lapping Richard who managed just 3. The mean old umpire & scorer insisted it was scored as a 3.
- Stronachs batting. And batting. And batting. 10 innings between them, out only 4 times, 119 runs in total. The Foleys did their best to challenge them, but were 25 runs short.
- Leanne’s Lockdown Zoomers starting most of their games with 3 slips and a gully. Now that’s an attacking field!
- Juniors bowling at Seniors. It would be invidious to name actual wickets, but top marks to Aadi, Hamish T, Oli, Ben S, Jamie, Dougie, Max & Isaac for castling senior players.
- Robbie batting, not only with a koala on his back, but with a half-width training bat. And hitting the ball. Every time. Why? How?
- Keith hitting the ball gently to Kyle, and setting off confidently for a run. Charles turning nonchalantly and grounding his bat at the striker’s end to ensure that he wasn’t the run-out batter.
- Fielding. Lots of fielding. Maisie and Zaara both had games in which they ran miles across the hill, patrolling the wide-open leg side all on their own. Ben d’U and Rory took 2 catches each, 13 others took 1. There were 21 run outs; Euan K, Jamie, Keith, Sarah, Zaara & Zaki effected 2 each
- Big hitting. Ru’s 22 in 11 balls, Rory’s 22 in 10, Dougal’s 21 in 10, Ru’s 21 in 10, Rory’s 20 in 11, Charles’s 22 in 10, Anish’s 20 in 10, Mike’s 18 in 8, Dougie’s 20 in 8, Charles’s 23 in 10, Ben S’s 20 in 7, Mo’s 23 in 8, all topped by Charles’s 21 in 6. There were 15 6s and 86 4s.
- Super ball! After 11 pool games with a result, Ru’s Reindeer and Mo’s Footballers tied the 12th and last, and a super ball was decreed to separate them. For Mo’s Footballers, Mo and Joe W duly padded up, Dougie steamed in from his late-afternoon run-up, foxed Mo into a swing and a miss, and they scampered a leg bye. For Ru’s Reindeer, Dougal and Isaac faced Oscar. Dougal clipped the ball straight to a fielder, and they stole a single. Still a tie! At this point it was realised that the result made no difference to the play-off order of play, and the tie stood.
- Bowling. Unsurprisingly there were no maidens, but Maisie and Ben d’U both managed an over in which just 1 run was scored. Respect.
What an absolute joy that was from start to finish; a magnificent advert for cricket, and for Carlton Cricket Club. If anyone ever asks me to explain Carlton Cricket Club, I shall simply send them along to watch (or preferably play in) the Sixes.
More details than anyone can possibly need are here: final tables, all the results and three pages of stats.
- Ben’s Badgers v Mo’s Footballers
- Max’s Meercats v Leanne’s Lockdown Zoomers
- Keith’s Koalas v Ru’s Reindeer
- Ben’s Badgers v Max’s Meercats
- Keith’s Koalas v Mo’s Footballers
- Leanne’s Lockdown Zoomers v Ru’s Reindeer
- Mo’s Footballers v Max’s Meercats
- Leanne’s Lockdown Zoomers v Keith’s Koalas
- Ru’s Reindeer v Ben’s Badgers
- Keith’s Koalas v Max’s Meercats
- Ben’s Badgers v Leanne’s Lockdown Zoomers
- Ru’s Reindeer v Mo’s Footballers
- Mo’s Footballers v Leanne’s Lockdown Zoomers
- Max’s Meercats v Ben’s Badgers
- Ru’s Reindeer v Keith’s Koalas