Q1: How did you discover Newtown and Chilwell Cricket Club?
A1: In truth it discovered me when I moved in next to Graeme and Caz Chisholm. Caz told me if I played cricket I had to meet Graeme. He told me if I played cricket I had to play with Newtown. I am so glad I didn’t move in next door to Rocky Harris.
Q2: You ended up batting with Chisa in a 23-run, ninth wicket stand to win a grand final against Grovedale. How special was that?
A2: I was interviewed for the Geelong Business News magazine shortly after, a Q and A, and one of the questions was what were my favourite activities? I answered: dancing with my wife Alison (she’s a brilliant dancer) and batting with Graeme Chisholm, who may or not be a brilliant batsman, but he got us home that day, on one leg, and gave Grovedale yet another reason to hate him. They didn’t need it.
Q3: Two separate hat-tricks in an afternoon.
A3: It was raining and cold out at Newcomb and my glasses had water on them, so I was having trouble seeing where to land the ball. As the rain stopped, I dried my glasses and Morgo said “I will give you one more over”. First hat-trick. Then Mark Anderson took a brilliant interception in the covers that made them seven-for. Morgo walked past and said it’s bloody freezing out here, take another hat-trick so we can go home. Three balls later we were heading to the warmth of Big Red. It made the Herald Sun.
Q4: Did you ever turn the ball?
A4: To quote the great Wilfred Rhodes, “if t’batsman thinks it’s turning, it’s turning”. In the Sixths the best bowling strategy is the aim at the five bits of wood one. They miss, you hit. A lot of people
Q5: You were behind a number of initiatives at the club including the Merriman Medal, the Gooch/Insole Scholarship, the sightscreens, what’s your favourite achievement?
A5: Probably a bit controversial this one but working with the City of Greater Geelong to help find a new home for the Highland Gathering. I think both organisations have benefitted from the move, we got our ground in March so that we could host finals, the Highland Gathering was moved to a venue that better coped with their vast attendances. Queens Park was never suitable for the numbers they attract. I also have a soft spot for the Gooch/Insole Scholarship.
A5: I got to have come and live with me two young blokes who became firm friends. Jaik Mickleburgh went on to make his county debut after his year with us and had a good county career. Jonno Carpenter continues to make a good contribution to cricket in his part of the world. I thought Essex made a mistake when it let him go. He was a natural leader and would have become a very handy county allrounder. Our club has benefitted enormously from the scheme overall. The English lads are one of the reasons we aren’t in Second Division.
Q6: Who is the best player you have seen at Newtown and Chilwell?
A6. That’s hard to say. I might answer by saying who is the player or players I most like to watch. Like most of us, I always felt a sense of disappointment when Dan Lawrence got out because while he was out there, he was playing a different game to everyone else. The Clarks had the same je ne sais qua. Cooper Bingham has it about him, too. And has anyone ever seen a more insouciant batsman than John Simson? When you tell the wicket keeper he looks like the gardener because he’s wearing gloves, you have to score a century. He did.
Q7: During your time on committee, there have been as many down times as up times. What was the biggest challenge?
A7: The drought produced some tough challenges. Thankfully with the water tanks, the drought proof grass and so on, being forced to end a season early should never happen again. That
we got through those times and have one of the best club – plenty will argue the best – assets in the GCA is a credit to the resilience of our club leaders, our club generally, at the time. Player
exoduses cause headaches but they always bring us back to the path we should never leave … grow your own. George Chisholm is the perfect example of the rich wisdom in that. You can see it
about him already. He will be one of the great First Xl captains.
Q8: As a writer and broadcaster, you’ve covered cricket all over the world, England, South Africa, the West Indies and the sub-continent, who are the best players three or four players you
A8: I got to watch Graham Pollock at 42 play an innings that would have done the 24-year-old Ricky Ponting proud, hitting Carl Rackemann with the new ball for four successive fours, all to
different parts of Newlands in Cape Town. For aesthetic purity, Mark Waugh is untouchable. I watched him farm the strike in a game at the SCG by running threes. That’s beyond mere class.
The best two bowlers? Malcolm Marshall and the two Keiths, Dennis Keith Lillee and Shane Keith Warne.
Q9: Your favourite Russell Mitchell story, because everyone has one.
A9: Easy, the Seconds final out at Lara, East Belmont’s bat is heading towards a half-century and Fleetie gives the ball to Ian Hastie to bowl his big inswingers. Up runs Battler from the slips cordon: “He’s falling out of crease, bowl him one down leg side first ball and Hadders will get him stumped”. After broader consultation, first bowl was thought too obvious. “Well do it fourth ball then,” Battler demanded. You know the rest.
Q10: What is the future for Newtown and Chilwell Cricket Club?
A10: I am not sure if it is for me to say. I certainly believe that under Frank Tuskes we are on the path started by Neville and Morgo that will not just keep us in First Division but heading towards a First Xl premiership and a club championship. Our junior programs are working well. And the key word in everything is work, hard work. It is important that heavy workloads don’t fall to the few, but rather we attract a broad sweep of volunteers to carry us forward. The parents of our juniors are a great resource. I ask more of them to consider their children as not playing for “our” club but playing for “their” club. In the not too far of world of Artificial Intelligence and Advance Robotics, people will have more time than ever before for leisure activities. We need to make sure that crickets, and our club in particular, is there to provide the best and most timeless leisure activity ever invented – the game of cricket.