The Vincibles: A Suburban Cricket Season
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Meet Moof, Womble, Castaway, Churchyard and One Dad, a dog called Six Bits and a van known as the Bog Roll Express. Every summer weekend, the parks of Australia turn themselves over to countless thousands of club cricket matches. One of those clubs is the Yarras. This is the inside story of their most memorable season, told by the vice-president, chairman of selectors, newsletter editor, trivia-night quizmaster, karaoke impresario and club greyhound shareholder, Gideon Haigh. The Vincibles is about playing for love, winning with grace, losing with humour, valuing your community, and other anachronistic notions. It features 69 ducks and 257 dropped catches.(Not that we re counting.) The spirit of cricket isn't dead. It s just upped and moved to the suburbs.
kind of greeting-cum-briefing from the surviving batsman to the newcomer. They aren’t usually as elaborate and unmanning as Churchyard’s—a pro-forma ‘get forward’ or ‘loud calls’ will suffice—but they can vary in depth and intensity. A few seasons ago, Wasim greeted me with, ‘You know what? I had a dream about us batting together last night.’ ‘Really?’ I asked. ‘How did I go?’ ‘You batted well,’ he recalled. I was immediately suspicious. ‘Have you been taking a lot of drugs lately?’ ‘No
Penfold, whom I’ve never seen play, but whose proudest boast is that he once acted as twelfth man to a Yarras team containing ten men. Then there’s Space Cadet, whom I wouldn’t mind picking, but who suffers from a reputation for eccentricity: hence the nickname. Spacer is actually a very interesting guy, in a New Age kind of way, and brings to the club a vast store of knowledge on hypnosis and Russian breathing techniques. Watto, who joined us from the spartan regime of the district club
presidential cycles that show huge followings for the likes of Steve Forbes and Pat Buchanan. And just as Forbes and Buchanan are always washed up by Super Tuesday, you’ll be a pariah by Selection Thursday. To their credit, the guys know how competitive selection will be in these next few weeks. Some have even made pre-finals sacrifices. Had sacrifices been solicited last season, a few blokes might have promised to give up the reverse sweep for Lent, and then only halfheartedly. Now they’re
Humpty Dumpty, the Thirds are putting themselves back together again. Moof is dynamic. Nothing worries him, although occasionally he confides in his partner: ‘The bowling’s easy. But gee, I could murder a steak.’ One Dad, having finally secured a promotion to number 10, shows the patience of Job (he’ll like that). After a while, Doc superstitiously forbids anyone to move from their seats— which means that Chilli Dog and I, facing the opposite way to score the Fourths game, see nothing. With a
spinner, and end up on a pizza parlour’s hotline; so you order a Mexicana with extra cheese, which fills a hole, but not that hole in the Third XI. Typical is the season’s first meeting to draft our four XIs, involving the four captains, Pete Macca (Firsts), Dave Macca (Seconds), Doc (Thirds), Churchyard (Fourths) and myself. Attendance rolls studiously marked at training to keep track of new arrivals cause widespread bemusement. ‘Does anyone know who Mark Warren is?’ I ask. Shrugs from the