Well we are back, safe and sound. We left Australia at 3:30pm last Monday, and were due to walk in our door 1:30mins later at 5pm. Weird huh? We were actually delayed in Denver so it took a total of 2 and a half hours to get home from Australia! What a killer time difference, I can assure you though that we all had a great deal of fun. We saw virtually everybody in the course of staying in 5 different cities/towns.
As for cricket. Well. We watched that 2nd Final in Sydney. I played a game of indoor with a cousin. I also played in the NSW Country League and scored 50 in a total of 139. I was batting brilliantly and should have gone on to help us put up a bigger total. It was funny, because we played on a very lovely ground that hadn’t had its grass cut! Our team was furious, the standard for pitches and grounds there are, as expected, much higher than here. So with high grass, our delightful ground stroke makers were out of their element. I was witness to some gorgeous ground strokes that at most went for 1. The grass may have been higher than the Springs, in fact, I think it was. So watching my new teammates, of which another cousin of mine (my closest cousin) perished trying to hit over the top was tough. They had asked where I wanted to bat, I said, “Oh, 4,5,6,7.” I didn’t want to impose myself, so I was slotted at 7. Walking in at 39/5 after 21 or 22 overs was quite the challenge.
The captain was in and immediately offered the advice of sticking in and not getting out. The three guys before me fell so quickly, all skied shots and all caught. Well the first ball was a short ball and sat up beautifully, so I just rocked back and pulled it for six. First ball! That does wonders for the confidence, middling your first ball, hitting it for maximum. The ground was about the same size as ours, the straight boundary was a tad shorter (nothing like Longmont). The captain came down and said to me something like, “Well. Just do that!”
Third ball was full, so I just lifted it over long on. The hit was huge. Our pavilion was under a tree at long-on, and my boys were playing under it. For a moment I feared a little for them, but then it looked like it was easily clearing this very large tree. It ended up hitting branches in the tops and dropping down and hitting a parked car. I was told that I had smashed a windshield, one of the fielders told me and I just said, “I’ll fix you up in 2 weeks.” (I’d be out of Australia by then.) It turns out I didn’t smash anything, but they made me sweat until after my innings.
Most of the rest is a blur. One full ball on my pads disappeared over square leg for six more. My team mates said after they’d usually turn that for a single to square leg, how the hell did I hit it for six? They kept saying, “And you’re American???” No mate, I live there, I’m Australian. I was on 44, five 6’s and a four, when their leggie, who was a great young prospect bagging a few, including me, went back over his head for six to bring up my fifty. It actually hit a property fence and dented the fence. The keeper simply said to his slipper, “Geez he makes it look easy.” I hit six 6’s and a four in my stay.
Overconfidence can then be a bad thing. I left my crease next ball and didn’t get to it, skying it to long on and out for 50 off about 25-30. (balls faced are not recorded). It was actually the first time I left my crease in the innings! We were 110/6 and collapsed to 139. The game was supposed to be 50 overs, reduced to 45, and we may have lasted 36. They lost 5 wickets for 60-odd before that pair took it all the way. I bagged a wicket. Our team dropped 8 catches. Some were definitely tough. So while I thoroughly enjoyed myself, I learned a valuable lesson. I could have batted easily until the end without much risk, put away the bad balls and score a good score. I hope to bring that lesson with me to the CCL this year.
After the game I received much praise and wishes for me to leave my BDM behind for the club kit! I was also asked to come back and play the following week, however I was to be in Sydney for a wedding that day. I truly had a grand day in a league that was definitely higher standard than CCL. Although I must say the CCL boasts players with better ability than the league I was in, it’s just that all 11 in the NSW league were of good quality. CCL has a mix of old and young, very good and good. It was encouraging, in a way, to see that even stronger leagues have dropped catch issues. It made me feel a bit more at ease that we are doing as well as we can in our league. I went and watched my younger cousin play for Parramatta 1st Grade and witnessed a dropped sitter. So it happens. My younger cousin in Sydney City (Parramatta) gets to play against the McGrath’s, Clarkes, etc when they aren’t playing for AUS or NSW. Lucky bastard.
I then got to practice with the Oakleigh Cricket Club in Melbourne. They have 4 divisions in this team. I was fascinated with the quality of the turf wicket, the ground, the grass, the pavilion. They had lifetime members who come to practice just to help! Old guys who can’t play anymore but still live the club. The pavilion had scorecards, photos, trophies, some dating back into the 1800’s. I just wanted to go around and look at them all! I didn’t have time, I had to go out and practice. Afterward I was praised by the coach, who had been over with the 1st division practice, but came over to the 2nd,3rd,4ths to watch and comment as well. He was surprised and I believe I represented Colorado Cricket and cricket in the USA in a very positive way. He said to me if I ever ended up in Melbourne to come and talk to him. That was very nice, I thoroughly enjoyed practicing with some really good talent. We had about 50 guys for practice. Unbelievable!
As a family we visited at least a half dozen different beaches in different parts of the trip, cruised Sydney harbour, went down a real gold mine on a tour, panned for gold, visited a winery, saw the Snowy Mountains (by summer, and similar to Colorado, the country filmed in The Man From Snowy River), spent a day in the rain forest and swam in a crystal clear creek with waterfalls and pools, walked around Sydney City and Melbourne, stood outside the MCG (closed for the Commonwealth Games preparation), visited gardens and parks, and who knows what else. What a trip.