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Week 4: So Near & Yet...

Sunday 13th October

Got up early again to speak to Clem and her family. We chatted for about an hour which was nice. I miss everyone back at home, but some days more than others. I’m getting used to it I think but it still doesn’t feel quite right.

I spent the rest of the day lounging around doing very little of any worth as I was so tired from the night before.

 

Monday 14th October

I’m playing a game for a team called The Wanderers today. They are a team a bit like the Forty Club back home, mainly older men. Some of them are ex-State players and a couple play for Australia over 60’s.

When I got to the Allan Border field, where we were playing, I found out I’d actually have to play for the opposition - The Taveners - as they were short. They asked me where I usually batted and let me open. The wicket was the biggest road I have ever batted on; not an inch of green and rock hard. I took guard and couldn’t mark the pitch it was so hard. In the end i worked off of a rough guess. The bowling wasn’t of the highest standard but I felt I batted well; and the pitch allowed me to play some good shots. The outfield was like a carpet and it was lightning quick. I played what I think is the best looking shot in the book. On the up, past mid-on’s left hand. People say the on-drive is the mark of a class batsman so I’m always happy when I nail one.

I batted mostly with Alistair Lynch, who is a former AFL player. Apparently he was very, very good but I didn’t know who he was at first. It’s strange having no real knowledge of the popular culture of the country I temporarily call home.

When I got to 40 I got a shout from the rest of my team. Apparently I’d batted long enough and I had to retire. I didn’t want to as the pitch was so good but I couldn’t really say no. I ended up fielding for the team I’d just batted against then bowling against the team I fielded for. I bowled 7 overs for 25 at the death, trying to bowl Yorkers from around the wicket.

After the game there was a short presentation of a trophy. I think it was an annual event but obviously I had no idea what the significance was. They gave me man of the match but part of me felt a bit like it was just because I was new…

 

Tuesday 15th October

Another day of doing very little apart from looking for a job. Walking around in the middle of the day isn’t much fun and it seems I get burned no matter how much sun cream I slap on. I might start swimming in it.

Dennis Lillee (sadly not THE Dennis Lillee) from the Wanderer’s called and asked if I wanted to play a game for them the following day. I said 'yes'. Well, it's not like my diary is exactly rammed.

 

Wednesday 16th October

Got picked up fairly early to make the hours’ drive to the game. The guy who picked me up will be umpiring today. Wally had warned me that he was slightly…eccentric and he was not wrong. His name was Nick. He told me a lot of stories regarding his cricketing experiences and such. The journey went fairly quickly in the end.

We were playing at a nice little ground enclosed by trees on one side. The boundaries were fairly short so I felt like it was a good opportunity for some runs before the weekend. We batted first again, mainly due to the fact we only had five players at the time we were due to start; I opened.

It was evident from the first ball that this pitch was no road. They started with a spinner and the first ball of the game, bowled to my partner, gripped and spun slightly as the pitch was a little tacky. We ran a single off the 5th ball of the over leaving me to face one. I managed to cut it for four and was up and running. I pulled my second ball for 6 and started to fell really good.

I went well and managed to keep everything down unless I was deliberately hitting in the air. That’s one of my main issues, especially on slower decks so I was fairly happy. My Woodstock bat goes pretty well and I hit four sixes, including one to bring up my fifty and with it, retirement.

We got 260 odd in our 40 overs. They had two very technically correct opening batsmen. The kind of robotic, private school batsmen I always hated when I was playing age group cricket for Somerset. One of them was markedly better than the other and could undoubtedly bat. They scored slowly however, and after 10 overs had lost a couple of wickets without too many on the board. They never really had a shout from there on in. The better of the two opening batsmen got about 80 and batted well. He ended up leaving a ball and getting bowled, I think he was exhausted as it was very hot.

I tried very hard in the field as it was a good opportunity to practice, plus I was one the youngest in the team and so did most of the chasing/diving around. I got a bowl near the end, when the game was pretty much over. I managed to pick up my first two wickets in Australia...which was nice. I've only been here three weeks!

The journey home felt a lot longer than the journey there. Nick’s stories weren’t as entertaining this time around.

 

Thursday 17th – Friday 18th October

When all you do is wander round looking for work there isn’t much to fill a diary with. Chermside was the main target but I’m not hearing anything back from anyone. I’ll try write more interesting entries when I actually have something to fill my days with.

 

Saturday 19th October

At least when a Saturday rolls around I know I’ll have something to write about. I was picked up by Pyney, who I have now learned is called the Cone, for obvious reasons. He sometimes gets called Ace too, as he apparently runs like Ace Ventura. We went to pick up the rolls that would be used for the teas. When we got to the bakery we found that someone had already picked them up. Cone speculated why they made him secretary if they weren’t going to let him do the jobs he was assigned.

We had a brief net before warming up. I hit a few balls using my old bat, more out of curiosity than anything else. I decided I’d use it in the game, just because I like changing bats. I’ve always loved getting new bats and I hate having the same bat for a long period for some reason.

We bowled first and got off to a fairly good start. We didn’t pick up a wicket for a while but our oppo, Queensland Uni, scored incredibly slowly. When we did start to take wickets they fell in clumps. Their low run rate and the steady fall of wickets put us right on top and we eventually bowled them for 140. I was disappointed not to get a bowl but I think I was close to getting a go before the innings finished.

Tim Gregory and I had a little while to bat before the end of the day and I was looking forward to it. Both their opening bowlers were fairly slow. One bowled big outswingers and one bowled big induckers. I hit my first ball for four through, surprisingly, square leg. I don’t score as many runs on the off side as I should because my foot movement can be abysmal. I generally wait for the ball to be straight or short. I score heavily between mid-off and fine leg and will very, very rarely miss out when the ball is on my pads.

My fourth ball also disappeared for four as I was able to unveil my trusty pull shot. I think it's my best shot, and it’s another I rarely miss. This start had me flowing nicely and I felt very comfortable at the crease. They very quickly abandoned a plan to bounce my out after I planted a couple in the scrub.

Unbelievably, having done the hard work and in lamentably typical Jack Fraser fashion, I managed to chip a catch back to the bowler with about 3 overs left in the day. I was fuming at myself. I couldn’t believe I’d actually managed the hitherto unknown treat of batting across two Saturdays. It also means I could spend next weekend doing a lot of watching, either from the sidelines or in the field. I can practically hear my Dad now...

We finished the day 84-1, in a very good position come next week. We hung around for a little while but then headed out to the New Market Hotel with a few of the boys. We left when everyone else moved on to the Caxton and I went to bed, still fairly angry about my capitulation.



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