"I hope there will be a match report." said Fantasy Bob, sometime coach of the newly formed Dads' team, the Carlton Crocodiles. Inspired by the exploits of their children in the junior ranks, and with distant memories of school cricket matches to the fore, a group of Carlton Dads had decided they should form their own team to provide some light entertainment on balmy summer evenings. Alan Murray and Bob Irvine were brought in for instruction on the rudiments of the game, and after a few casual nets sessions in which small boys enjoyed bowling fast and short to their fathers, a match was arranged.
As readers of the 4th XI match reports will have learnt from their weekly instruction in the Classics, the heavy infantry of the early Roman legions prior to the reforms of Gaius Marias in the 2nd century BC were formed into three ranks: the hastati consisting of young soldiers, the principes being fighting men in their 20s and 30s, and the triarii being veteran soldiers used in battle only in extreme situations, who generally watched battles from beyond the boundary and were allowed to rest on one knee when not engaged in combat. Thus on a strangely sunny day in August, a motley band of Crocs assembled at the Meadows who looked like cricketing triarii who had fallen on hard times.
The groundsman had offered the teams a choice of two strips, an emerald green affair which at least had the virtue of being largely flat, and a brownish surface that rose up alarmingly at each end to present batsman and bowler with a small mound upon which to stand ... Jay Book, our recent baseball convert who hadn't even heard of cricket six months ago, was beginning to feel at home. The toss was won, the pitch selected, the drunken students removed from the square, umpire David Main produced a neon pink ball and the Crocs' captain John Beattie bravely elected to bat.
Opening pair Simon Kujawa and Stuart Sizer started with some well timed shots, but fell cheaply causing a flutter of pad-strapping. Craig Burgess and Phil McIntyre then established a partnership which proved to be the foundation of a middle-order fight back, with the skipper replacing Phil after one swing too many. Star of the show was Craig Burgess, who produced a full range of shots (including some of his own invention) and managed to survive the enthusiastic running of his captain falling one run short of his retiral on 24. His place was taken by Brian "Boom Boom" Gill (below), who decided that hitting the ball through the long grass for ones and twos looked like hard work, and adopted a more aerial approach to great effect. The introduction of Carlton U15 Adam McDonald in the Cherrybank attack brought a change of pace for the Crocs batsmen to contend with, but a fine four from Dale Garbutt and cameo appearances from Jay, Alistair Keatinge and Graham Bean completed the innings, leaving what looked like a respectable total of 90 for the visitors to chase.
Angus: "Brian do you realise you're holding your bat the wrong way round?"
After a short break during which the divots were replaced in the pitch, the Carlton Crocs took to the field. Two early wickets from Paul Watts and Craig had the visitors teetering on 6-2: was this to be an easy run for the Carlton veterans? Alas no. Cherrybank hastati Adam McDonald and Paddy Halliday tucked into the bowling with a flurry of boundaries including a mighty straight six from Paddy which dropped just short of Melville Drive, eventually retiring on 28* and 27* respectively. Glad to see the back of such youthful excess, the Carlton bowlers applied themselves to the task again, interrupted only by a shout and impressive turn of speed from umpire Main who set off in pursuit of a rather agressive-looking dog bounding about in the outfield. With the pink ball recovered from the jaws of the hound, stout resistance from Dougie McDonald and Banks added a further 15 before Craig took a diving catch at short midwicket off Dales's accurate bowling, and then retired to deep square leg to recover.
This was the breakthrough that the Crocs wanted, and the skipper benefited from not having to face the youngsters by taking 3 wickets with bowling of consistent line if variable length, including one athletic catch by tidy keeper Stuart.
Wickets to Phil, bowling through the pain of an Incrediball injury sustained earlier in the week, and Jay competed the series, but Cherrybank 11th man Dave Jones steadied the ship and with the psychological threat of the returning Paddy looming, the Crocs did the decent thing and the Rovers triumphed by 2 wickets.
Many thanks to Douglas McDonald and the Cherrybank Rovers team for a very enjoyable game played in a friendly spirit, to umpires David, Angus and Gregor, and to everyone who came down and enjoyed the spectacle. We look forward to a return match next season.