Our story begins on the 18th of May 1998 in the city of Utrecht, Holland. Known for its boat trips, Dom Tower and Miffy Museum, this was the glorious location of the birth of a soon to be Carlton legend. After an arduous labour, Nicholas “Nick” White was born weighing 10 lb on the dot. Above the European average at the time, however rumour has it that 3 lb of this weight can be attributed to a perfectly formed mullet. Now what is the relevance of this? Very little, unless you saw the glorious sight of a man broken on 19th of May 2019 having celebrated his 22nd.
Carlton’s “peoples champion” rocked up worse for wear having been influenced by, rained off, Corne and Cheeky into having a few sherbets on his birthday. Despite this, Nick was fierce in the oldies vs youngsters warm up football match. With the average age of the 2s being be approximately 12 years old, the boundary between young and old was very fuzzy. Nonetheless, after the teamsheet was consulted and a brief transfer window completed, the game was underway. The football was fierce with strong challenges flying in from all angles and goals aplenty. The final goal being struck by Mother-in-law’s favourite and captain for the day Rory Allardice. Yet the accuracy and fierce competition that underlined the football could not be transferred into other parts of the warm up.
The fielding warm up that followed was not pretty. Parallels can be drawn between the fielding warm up and the drunken activity of putting a traffic cone on statue in town. Funny for observers, but ultimate dangerous for all those involved.
During the warm up Rory went out to the middle to toss. Having won the toss, Rory sniffed the air, glanced over to Moon and Hugh, nodded and choose to bat. The outcome, a regal opening pair of Charlie Maxwell and Peter “Pistol” Gill striding to the middle. With a hard and true pitch and pace on the ball from the Grange openers, Pistol and Charlie got off to a flyer. Charlie who had been told that the Grange Point/ Short Third man, a certain Harris Aslam, was recovering from a 2 year ankle injury proceeded dab the ball down to third man boundary but taking enough off the ball that Harris had to run full pelt to chase it all the way to the boundary. Pistol told the team later that he had not seen Charlie as happy since the Sydney Swans won the AFL premiership in 2012.
Described as the “Best looking opening partnership in the league” by Angus Beattie, (no context was given but it is assumed that the aesthetics Angus was referring to was the cricket technique) the pair raced to a 50 partnership within 11 overs. Delectable drives, cuts and pulls on show however this partnership eventually came to an end. Trying to dominate the bowling Pistol was slightly early on a ball which popped to midwicket, out for a classy 39.
In came club stalwart Zaki Yousef, who had the air of someone playing back garden cricket against their younger brother. His defensive shots and drives to fielders gave the impression that the balls he was facing were bowled by a sibling that had taken all the attention and time given by his parents and they were going to pay for it. Zaki departed for a classy 2.
Next in was Gregor aka G-Money, with some deft touches and solid drives Charlie and G-Money kept the scoreboard going. Unfortunately, Charlie eventually departed LBW for a well worked 70.
Nick Martin now at the crease, the pressurising of fielders with quick singles dried up pretty quick however he took a fancy to Grange captain taking him for 12 off his 3rd over including a six into the garden up the hill. Nonetheless, he failed to kick on after. With the precision of a Swiss made clock, he picked out the only fielder in on the legside whilst sweeping the spinner.
Nick White replaced him, striding out to the crease with the flowing mullet peeking out the now customary taped up bucket hat. A few lusty blows and Gregor and Nick had the scoreboard ticking over again. However, after a few overs of good cricket a full toss was presented to G-Money. He swung the bat with the power and precision of a lumberjack felling a tree, pre-mechanisation of timber industry, and connected. He proceeding to mark his guard and wait for the fielder to hop the fence to collect the ball. Yet, the stars had not aligned and G-Mac had hit the ball the largest boundary possible and was caught.
John was next in and the running became electric much to the dismay of Nick. The wicketkeeper was finding gaps all over the place and putting pressure on Grange’s fielders. Both batsmen shot into the 30s and with the score at 220 off 46 overs. There was a sniff of a 250 finish.
The running got too much eventually, Nick was run out going for a second for 33, a vital innings.
4 overs left. Mo walks to the crease.
6ft 5, hands the size of shovels, a chest broader than an industrial freezer and a grin that would put the Cheshire cat to shame. The boundary appeared to shrink in front of the spectator’s eyes. The situation was made for Mo. Grange brought back the young opening bowler to attempt to clean him up before he got going. The pace playing into the Mo hands. First ball he faced, the cleanest strike of the day, over the boundary rope on the leg side. Shortly followed by an even bigger strike being clocked 130m with another boundary in the shape of a four.
Amongst this barrage of sixes. John called through a run which Mo had no interest in running and he was run out for a 35, solid performance for the 2s debutant. Rory came to the crease fully aware of his role. Watch Mo hit bombs as the non-striker. Mo didn’t disappoint hitting two more 6s and 4, including a 6 over extra cover that cleared the sibcas.
Carlton’s inning came to a close 271-7. Mo 37* and Rory 7*.
Buoyed by the success of the first innings Carlton enjoyed an exquisite tea and headed back out to complete the second half, Callum and Rory opening up with the new ball. Grange had no desire to nurdle to 272 and the openners came out guns blazing. Solid drives and strong pulls. They raced to 47 of 6 overs for no loss. The field was deathly quiet, was Mo’s heroic going to be in vain?
Callum then found his length and a bit of nip and managed to beat the inside edge of batsman no 1. The ball crashed into middle and off. The Scooby doos were off the mark. Rory took himself off and Harry replaced him. The batsman no2 was still at it, backing himself to find the boundary until he miscued one to the Nick White off Sibley. The catch gloriously plucked from the air. Nick White was now in the attack and with the openers gone and runs drying up the pressure was well and truly on Grange. The drain of non-stop chat from Uni mates, Sibley and Nick White, coupled with little coming off the bat lead to a rash shot from no 3. Straight down Zaki’s throat. Harry had his first.
Grange’s keeper entered the field of play with an unmistakable plastic white helmet. Rory turned to oldest member of the bowling attack Nick Martin. So began another advert for crafty slow seam bowling. Some say he is like a young Dave Carter, if Dave Carter bowled like he does now when he was in his 20s. The Grange keeper, unsure what pace the low full toss was coming at, ended up clothing it to mid-on. Wicket number one for Nick.
Enter former Arrow, Harris Aslam. First game for 2 year and he didn’t look rusty (he however admitted after the game that he had serious fear of getting out to Nick. “Perfect seam at 50mph” – Harris Aslam, 19/05/19). After a few boundaries Sibley came back on replacing Nick White and the first ball didn’t go to plan, after dropping it short he was dispatch for 6 by Harris. Yet, if at first you don’t succeed try, try, try again. So, after dropping it short again but slightly differently Harris attempted the same shot.
As soon as ball was in the air G-Mac was off. The movement couldn’t be attributed to human, he was like a wolf in full flight chasing a stag. The ball was dropping before him and it was impossible to catch. But the laws of physics had stop working. Springing forward he got his hand underneath and the ball stuck. The crowd erupted. People who had never met each other before were embracing. Moon was trying to hold back the tears and was muttering that he would be changing the name of the sit-on roller to the McIntyre express.
5 wickets down still requiring over 100 runs and half way through the innings. Carlton were in the ascendency. The Grange captain was defiantly sticking around and the number 7 was nurdling. Yet in a moment of madness the Grange captain hit it straight to point and call the non-striker through. A sharp throw from Sibley and John wiped of the bails. 6 wickets down.
A young batsman now at the crease. Sibley is replaced by Nick Martin. A bit of wobble in the air and the youngster reached forward, the ball nips and his backfoot lifts. John tidily whips off the bails. 7 wickets down. New batsman strides out. Straight ball missed. LBW given. 8 wickets down.
From the other end, having seen Nick gun up his G-Tech AirRam cordless vacuum cleaner eying up a Michelle Phifer, Harry dusty of his Dyson Ball Multifloor with Radial Root Cyclone™ technology and with a mix of turn, bounce and hard hands from the batsman he had number 10 caught at short extra.
Having put up a solid effort getting into the 40s with batsmen falling all around him, the Grange captain eventually succumb to an excellent catch, edging Nick behind to John standing up.
Carlton 2s beat Grange 2s by 100 runs.
Post match, Sibley trialled a new song. After it was declared that we would all repeat it back because we didn’t know the words, Sibley proceeded to sing the full song, on his own, topless in the middle of everyone.
People make Carlton.
Big thanks to the tea ladies who put on an outstanding spread as usual, thanks to the umpires who managed the game well and for Grange for a good game of cricket.