Week 3: Two Days; Too Hard

Sunday 6th October

Alan Pettigrew OvalThe Alan Pettigrew Oval - home to Norths 3rd Grade. Sadly Brisbane's 'Spot the Cloud' contest turned out yet again to be a non-starter...

Got up and talked to Clem over Skype. Killed time for most of the day because I knew we were going out for a meal and some drinks to watch the rugby Grand Final. We headed to the Newmarket Hotel around 1630 and met up with some of the lads from cricket. We had a few beers and sat down to a meal - Chicken Parmigiana, which is new to me. It’s chicken with tomato sauce, cheese and ham and is a good feed. 

The Roosters – no, I don’t know who they are either – won the rugby. I’m not a rugby fan back home, so this game meant precisely nothing to me. We decided that we’d move on to another pub, called the Caxton. Wally has talked this place up so much I was expecting good things and it was very good for the first half hour or so until a band started playing. No offense to them - and I don’t know what they were called - but they weren’t brilliant. Wally and Rohan Pyne (Pyney, or The Cone, a mutual mate from cricket) decided they’d heard enough and we moved to another bar up the road. The name escapes me.

We met up with Joe Burns. It’s slightly surreal being on a night out with a state cricketer who actually seems fairly interested in me and was very talkative. To be on a night out with a state cricketer at all even! He’s a slightly strange guy though. He can concentrate for 90 overs in a day to score 150, but off the field his attention span is unbelievably short. At one point, he and I were sat talking alone (He’d had one space in his car so I ran to fill it, he’s a state cricketer after all) and he was just about to divulge his two main tips for batting when the others walked through the door. He cut off mid conversation to greet the others. I never got the tips.

Got in at 2am and went straight to sleep, wondering how I could subtly remind Burns that he never told me his secrets to batting without him thinking I was a complete loser.


Monday 7th October

Another fairly slow day as I’m still quite tired from yesterday night. Wally’s sister Geraldine brought her baby daughter, Paige, over so she could go in the swimming pool for the first time. The Wrights all go mad over the baby, who is incredibly cute, but I kept a bit of a distance from them all because after all, I really have no connection to Paige. I don’t want to seem like I’m awkward around the family, because I’m not. But I also don’t want to barge in and fuss over a baby I’ve only met once and the parents twice. So I hover a bit awkwardly. It really isn’t my home yet.


Tuesday 8th October

Woke up this morning with the full intention of heading to Chermside to see if there was any jobs going. My head was throbbing so badly though- and for no apparent reason - that I didn’t think I could cope being outside in the heat. I went back to sleep for a little while to see if I could shake it. 

Got up at about 10, with my head feeling a lot better. I’ve decided that I’m going to try to be healthy whilst I’m over here, and that means exercising more and eating less. My best efforts today included having a banana for breakfast, pasta for lunch and watermelon as a snack. How good is that? I’ll be rocking six-pack abs before the week is done at this rate. 

Wally had bought Mcdonalds for his lunch as he’d been at work and I got what I call ‘food jealous’. This is a condition I have invented for myself where I can’t watch people eat without becoming instantly hungry. It means I don’t rush to eat my food and often wait for everyone else to start before I start eating; people think I’m very polite.

Not much else has happened today really, same old routine of TV and chat. ‘Big Brother’ is always a good one for stimulating conversation, as me and Wally tend to just rip on the people in there. Simple pleasures.


Wednesday 9th October

No work for Wally today but he has gone out to test drive some cars. I’m home alone again so I spent the time looking over this diary and wondering how long it’s going to be when it’s finally finished. Wally and Nelma (Wally’s mum) both got back around lunchtime. Turned out Wally has put a deposit down on a Mazda 3 and he’s clearly happy about it. He’s buzzing like a kid who’s going to get a new toy and won’t shut up about it.

We left for First Grade training at about 1600. It’s properly hot today and humid too; I started sweating before we even started training. Brendan Nash who had spent the summer playing for Kent has come back and will coach the ‘performance squad’ as he calls it. It’s a much more focused session with him running it; He only lets 3 bowlers bowl in one net, and everyone else either fields, works on batting or does fitness work. He’s very approachable and it seems odd to think he’s a county cricketer.

There are rumours that Daniel Bell-Drummond, also of Kent, is going to come and play for Norths for a bit, but he wasn’t at training. Neither were Joe Burns or Nathan Hauritz. I batted against Brendan Nash and, even though he isn’t a bowler I batted very well (Editor's Note: B.P.Nash current has 2 Test wickets, 5 in ODIs, 22 First Class, 16 List A and 1 T20). I don’t know if he realises I currently play Third Grade and in a way I hope he doesn’t. If he thinks I play higher than that and I impressed him, it could be good for my prospects here.

I spent most of the rest of training fielding and running laps of the pitch. Running is basically torture in my opinion, and anyone who says they enjoy running is a liar.

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful barring the fact that I could feel myself seizing up. Anyone would think I’m 58 not 18.


Thursday 10th October

Woke up with a real hankering to play cricket, so I was really looking forward to training later. Continued my healthy eating regime by having a banana for breakfast because, according to Aussie adverts, they’re nature’s energy source! Not much to do today, again, as I’m just waiting for potential employers to email me back. According to one, there is a very high chance I’ll get some coaching work before long so that’s a positive.

The Wright’s second car went in for servicing, and the plan was that Wally and Nelma would go pick it up, Wally would come back and we’d go to training. While Wally was out, his order of Woodstock gear came in, and I signed for it. Wally and I both use Woodstock bats, and I couldn’t recommend the kit highly enough. My bat is the thickest bat I’ve ever seen but picks up like a dream. Wally buys the stuff from John Newsome, the man who makes the bats back in the UK, and sells it on ever here. John is like a magician. We went to see him when Wally wanted some new gear. He works out of his garage pretty much, and he had half made bats littering the place. Wally asked him to make a bat that was identical to his old one and, by eye, in 10 minutes, he made one from scratch that was perfect. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I’ve been thinking of writing to John and seeing whether he’d sponsor me. I suppose I’d have to start doing a bit better than Third Grade for that to happen…

Wally and Nelma got back and told me that the car isn’t actually ready, so we won’t be able to train tonight. This evening is the first time I’ve been properly bored since I got here, but I think it’s because I was so ready to train. 


Friday 11th October

Woke up nice and early to speak to Clem via video call. She’s doing well at Exeter Uni but I don’t know if she’s enjoying it that much and I do miss her. A lot.

Got up and got on knowing I needed to be at the school where Nelma teaches by 1300 to do a bit of coaching. I had an early lunch and caught the back end of Queensland’s innings vs WA in the Ryobi cup. They managed to get 202 in their 50 overs, and looking at the pitch that wasn’t a bad effort. It was very green, crumbly and slow, a bit of a bowlers dream in one day cricket. One of Wally’s favourite players, and ex-Norths boy, Hartley got some runs and so did a guy called Rearden who plays first grade for University, one of the teams in our Comp.

I know I’ve complained about the heat a lot but today was 36 degrees and the air felt thick. As soon as I stepped outside I was almost knocked out by it. The kids I’m coaching are all very nice, although they aren’t the most gifted cricketers. I spent the best part of 2 hours reiterating the phrase ‘Left arm up to help aim and get sideways on’ but they still didn’t get it. I know I was expertly coached by my Dad, who was a very good cricketer in his day, but I’m sure that by the age of 12/13 I could bat OK, bowl OK and field OK. Better than most 13 year olds these days anyway. 

After coaching we headed straight to Norths for a bit of a hit and for me to find out what my first manual labour task would be. I agreed to help out around the ground on Friday afternoons and in exchange I don’t have to pay cricket subs. Not a bad deal. Turns out I was shovelling stones into a wheelbarrow, moving them behind the nets and dumping them there. In the heat and humidity, I was soon drenched in sweat. It felt like a better workout than anything I’ve done in any gym, so coupled with my healthy eating programme (another banana for breakfast) I should be in great shape when I get back.

We headed home and after tea, Mick came round and we watched a movie called ‘The Castle’. It’s a very odd little film, and I didn’t really get it. It's Australian made and apparently it’s hilarious if you’re an Aussie.

Headed to bed fairly early as I foolishly agreed to field for the Second Grade side in the morning before fielding all day for Threes. Just what I need when I’m still adjusting to the heat…and unfit.


Saturday 12th October

Up early to be at Norths for 0830. I warmed up with the Second Grade team in slightly overcast conditions, hoping that I would have an interesting mornings fielding. I didn’t however, as I ended up fielding mid-on / fine leg the whole morning and touched the ball maybe 10 times. After only 2 hours my feet were killing me as the grounds are so hard here and I was slightly dreading a full day’s play with Threes.

The rest of the day was so bad I barely want to write about it. We fielded the whole day (literally!) and only just won the game even though we should have walked it. It took us an hour to take the first wicket, even though they had a night watchman in. From there, we took a fair few wickets quickly, reducing Toombull to 8-160 odd chasing 300. Their number 9 managed to get 100 and made us work. By the time I bowled I couldn’t feel my feet they were aching so much and I bowled some filth. I was taken off after 3 overs even though I should’ve had a wicket. The guy who got 100 smashed one straight up in the air and the ball dropped 6 yards from a static fielder.

Eventually we bowled them out for 270, 30 short of our total. We spent a while mingling with the boys from the other grades before me and Wally went home for a bit before heading out with Rohan Pyne again.

We went to the Eden’s Hill again and Wally tried chatting to a couple of girls. Me and Pyney sat and talked until Wal started using Pyney’s shirt (French and made of silk) as an ‘in line’. We got back after a few hours and I went straight to sleep.

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