Was sifting through some stuff conveniently out of sight on the top shelf of my bookcase and came across one of my prized possessions…it’s a worn white kookaburra and it bears the signatures of 11 guys and towards the seam it says “Wookiees versus Jedis” (http://www.milwaukeecricket.net/) (Starwars anyone?). The wear-and-tear, as one might guess, is because its been through 30 overs of being carted around Lindsay park (home of the Milwaukee cricket club). now, there’ve got to be reasons why this ball in particular is so darn important.
For one; it bears the signatures of folks I thoroughly enjoyed playing the game with…fiercely competitive…but sportsmen to the core. As Wookiees, we played our cricket hard and ‘in-your-face’ (just how I like it J)…but we were also the first to congratulate the opposition for a game well-played. This bunch of players were also some of the most talented cricketers I’ve played alongside…our team had it all…awesome quick bowlers who could make the ball talk, elegant batsmen, the best slip cordon in the league in my opinion (the fact that I was part of that cordon has no bearing whatsoever 😉...jokes apart…learnt an awesome amount, about bowling as well as batting from these guys. (won’t forget the impact of an innocuous piece of advice about keeping my arm as close to my ear as possible while delivering the new ball)
We were also the noisiest team on the field. Heckling, sledging…whatever you want to call it…if a batsman could be rattled by some cleverly worded comments, then we let him have it. Case in point: 1st over of a game…the opposition opener plays a misses a beautiful outswinger…lots of oohs and aahs from our close-in fielders…then I comment from 1st slip…as if talking to my wicketkeeper..”dude…these guys are smart…they reversed their batting order on us…that’s their no. 11!”…he hears it…if looks could kill I’d be vulture-fodder J next ball, plays and misses again. The keeper says “no way this can get close enough to nick it! Bowl something straight! (to the bowler)”. Another glare…next ball and the batsman goes for an ugly heave across the line…off-stump goes for a walk. ‘Mental Disintegration’ at its best J Steve Waugh would be so proud.
And secondly; this was for an MOM performance. Why this game over others? Well, probably because I was in the worst form of my life throughout the game! Chasing a smallish total, we should’ve got there easy enough. I opened but soon found it wasn’t my day. Plays and misses…inside edges onto pad…nothing came off the middle of my bat. I knew things weren’t right when I mistimed drives aimed at the cover boundary so badly that they barely got off the square. With each delivery, my frustration was growing. It was a miracle I wasn’t dismissed in that new-ball spell. My usual course of action – chance my arm, look for some big hits or get out in the process so I don’t waste deliveries and put pressure on the rest of our batsmen. But, just as I’d decided, we lost 3 quick wickets. Our opponents were already on a high…getting out now would be disastrous. So I stuck in there…pushing singles…the odd two and the very rare boundary. The other batsmen did their stuff…stroking beautifully and attacking their weaker bowlers. But we still were losing wickets regularly. My orders were simple…stay till the end…and that’s what I managed…we won by 2 wickets and a couple of overs to spare. i’d scratched around for one of my ugliest innings for a 49 not out…my lack of form was the very reason I was so proud of that innings where I played totally unlike me…and we won. reason why that ball is so important…that…and the fact that the darn things cost $200 apiece! J