After 50 games of defeat, Geoffrey Forday reflects on the day the Champs reclaimed victory.
Okay ANZA Magazine readers, I know what it’s like. By now, you’ve read in detail articles on the best high teas in town or devoured tales of a trip to a remote village where both the local cuisine and brew involves raw dung beetles.
Now you’ve reached the ANZA Cricket section update: an article about what seems a 19th century oddity mentioning at length people you haven’t the foggiest about – except most seem not far removed from that century.
There’s a jolly good reason why it’s down this end of the magazine by the way – the physio ads do their best business back here. However, if you’re not lucky enough, clever enough or rich enough to boast of dung beetle restaurants, caviar high teas or religious artefacts stopping the door hitting your butt then read on.
Let me give you some numbers because cricketers, no matter how poor academically, live by their digits. 1,350 days, 49 games, 3 marriages, a couple of dogs and one parrot have gone by since the team so accurately named the ANZA Champs have won a game on the field.
Yes, ANZA reader, when the term ‘incompetence’ is redefined by athletic endeavour, the Champs will still find a way to Eddie the Eagle it. Last year we played (notionally) a game where the opposition scored 356 runs in 30 overs against us or nigh on 12 runs an over, every over.
This must be some sort of world record. If so acclaimed, we know who the runner-up is because five games later another team scored almost as much. Champs totalled 56 in reply, so we were only in the game when we drove to the ground.
We are so bad, that instead of a maxim which extols playing virtue and gallant manhood, we Champs play under the badge of ‘Per Astus et Dolos’. Through cunning and treachery has underlined all that we are about in cricket and yet, still no victory.
Well, that was then and this is now. Sit down Sisyphus, as that boulder you’ve been pushing up hill has finally stayed up there.
Let me just write that again because I love testing the ‘Dubya’ key to see if it works after three-and-a half years. The Champs have won a game.
Now let me set this right before any Donald Trump collusion stuff starts flying around. Yes, the victory was indeed against our brethren, the poetically-named ANZA 4s.
This was still a real game between one team wanting to remove the odour of enduring defeat against another team which beefed up its ranks with some of the best in the Club.
We have history with the 4s. As a team they played the double D tactics of ‘Disruptive Dystopia’ cricket but now are rebuilding under skipper, GG – there’s a limerick in there somewhere.
Most ANZA readers get bored reading cricket detail and, unless this is the only magazine left in Baker & Cook, many of you have already moved on to the Groups section.
However, give me a moment and then you can hit the classifieds. We won because we chased down yet another big score of 200 runs. Well, big for most, par for our normal weekends. Champ bowlers hung in there and despite the normal 30 dropped catches, they managed to keep the enemy in check.
This was some achievement because two of our players had almost gone straight to the ground at 7.30am after a night of shameless beverage depravity. Another player went straight from the operating table and took to the field with a knee resembling his own head. He lasted…not long.
Finally, one of our key bowlers, Santa Klaus Anton ridiculously made an effort to take a catch. Maybe it was because after 10 years Mrs Santa had come to watch, or perhaps it was because the game was Klaus’ record 100th game for the Champs – well done Santa – that the silly lad put his fingers in the way of a ball which heat-glowed off the bat. Anyway, next thing we know Santa is on his way to Gleneagles for an amputation review.
So one player in hospital, one player who should be in hospital and two others who likely were turned away from hospital the previous night – the chase of the 200 was on.
I don’t know if it was the pain of losing yet another derby game, the thought of breaching 1,351 days of non-ending failure, or just the fact that we had pledged the soul of one of our number in sacrifice – sorry Phil the Younger – there was something about this pursuit that was different. No panic, but no resignation either.
The key to the final win was double-digit batting contributions across the order but more so from our skipper, the Shandy Man, Haroon Mufti.
Haroon has led us on us this multi-year journey of unrequited love from the cricketing Gods – and poor chap, he used to have hair in all the good places. Haroon scored his first 50 for the team and at 84 out, his work was done and victory was to be ours.
And there we have it. What was looking like a half-decade frustration etched deep on the faces of each Champ player instead saw a final triumph.
That said, the Champ ethos of all-inclusive companionship over all-else-excluded competitiveness has never wavered through those long years of losses. The fact that friends of every colour and religion – and mostly 19th century vintage – were still together after more than 10 years and playing the game they loved is testament to something more than a simple points table but rather, a compelling victory in itself.
Well played Champs.