Search This Blog

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Crooked Mick and the MCC

I probably never told you about the time that Mick put together a team that beat the English at cricket.  You won't find it mentioned in Wisden, either, because the MCC paid a lot of money to get the whole thing hushed up.  Too embarrassing, you see.

What happened was that the Poms were taking a few days off on one of their tours of Australia, and some joker decides to take them out to the Speewah.  He gets them on a train to Bandywallop (the town was still there then), and loads them into the back of a truck, and hauls them out to the Speewah, where they go around, looking at things and generally expressing surprise.

Not as much surprise at first, though, until Flash Jack explains that what they thought was kangaroos in the home paddock was really rabbit fleas, being got ready for being set on the Speewah rabbits.  This was just after the myxomatosis was introduced out there, and so we was breeding these special fleas.  We didn't get in soon enough, though, and that was what finished Bandywallop, but that's another story.

"Haw," says one of the English players, looking at the fleas, "I suppose everything you do out here is that much larger than life!".  The rest of the Poms joined in making honking sounds that we sort of recognised as laughter.  Anyhow, the thing is, Lazy Harry was sitting over on a fence, and he says to them how we played a pretty larger than life game of cricket, too.

Well one thing led to another, and the upshot was that we agreed to have a quick limited overs match, Speewah vs the MCC.  We explained the special local rules, like what you do if a skied ball gets lodged in a mosquito, and how we used the dogs to fetch any ball hit for a six.  They thought that was a bit odd till we pointed out that the cricket field we used was the home paddock, and they saw how far across the paddock was.

"Haw, you don't get many sixes, then, do you?" says the first Pom, the one that started it all.  "No more than two an over, and that's only when Mick's batting," explains Lazy Harry.  By now the Poms reckon their legs are being pulled, and so they start needling us, trying to organise a side bet, just like Lazy Harry had hoped.  He might've been lazy, but Harry used to love easy money, rest his soul.

So Harry made all sorts of to and fro noises, and the Poms kept on raising the bet, and then they even gave us odds of five to one.  That was when I bought in.  "We'll take the bet," says I, "so long as you give us ten runs start."

"Haw," says the chief Pom again, "we'll give you ten runs start a piece, my man."  So I says nicely that no, thanks, ten runs for the team is all we ask, and I can see one or two of them starting to wonder if they might be in over their heads, all of a sudden.

Anyhow, Mick was out in the paddock, rolling a ten thousand gallon water tank back and forwards to even out the pitch, being careful not to spill any water out of it, because the Poms had two really good spin bowlers that tour.  Then he puts on his oldest pair of boots, and bunny-hops down the pitch, flattening out the corrugations, and there's a pitch as good as any they ever prepared at the SCG.

One of the Poms was watching him through binoculars, and I could see he was impressed with Mick's size.  And that was before I gently pointed out that he was looking through the wrong end of the binoculars.  Funny, when those Poms get a shock, they go whiter than those flannels they wear.

Well they turned out like a proper All-England team, and we turned out in whatever we had on.  We looked like something the cat dragged in, but so long as we had Crooked Mick in the team, we couldn't miss, especially with Flash Jack officiating over the toss.  Which we won, let me add.

Then we made our first mistake: Flash Jack and Crooked Mick were the openers, but they mixed up ends, and so it was Flash Jack that got the strike.  He was out first ball, clean bowled.  In that over, we lost seven players from eight balls, and Mick never got a look-in.

Then they changed ends, and Mick was at the crease.  The first ball that comes at him, he slams for all he's worth, but with us seven wickets for no runs, he can't risk getting caught, so he slams it into the ground, where it goes underground, bounces round a rabbit burrow, and pops out at the keeper's feet, right behind him.

Now I should mention that the batsman at the other end was Lazy Harry, so Mick knew better than to start running, or one of them would've got run out.  Next ball, he puts all his force into it, same thing happens, only this time, he broke the bat.

In all that over, he broke five bats, but he still managed to hit a six on each of the sixth and seventh balls, then he decided to take a risk with the last ball of the over.  So he hit it straight up into the sky, so high that he and Lazy Harry have time to shuffle through for twenty three runs.  They were safe though, because when the ball came down again, it was hot from re-entering the atmosphere, so the keeper got a hand to the ball, but screamed and dropped it, and retired hurt.

Still, there were only two bats left now, and the Poms protested that they wanted to have two bats to use in their innings, so Mick sent for a crow bar, and used that in the next over to score four fours, a six, and a single that kept him at the crease for the next over, and that set the pattern.  We declared at lunch with 473 runs on the board, all scored by Mick.

The first two Poms padded up, and Lazy Harry suggests that it would save time if the next five or so padded up as well.  The Poms were really looking worried by now, especially as they had twigged that Mick was going to bowl.  And worry they might.

Mick's first ball was slow and curly, and completely beat the England captain, who adjusted his cap and nodded to himself as though he knew what to expect now.  He didn't.  As Mick came in for the second delivery, the England captain danced down the pitch, just as Mick let fly with one of his fastest.

The ball reached the ground, burrowed beneath the batsman's feet, deflected off the claypan two feet down, and came out of the ground just in time to snap the middle stump.  I was keeping wicket, so I saw it all, but from square leg, which is where I always went for Mick's second delivery.  He got two more that over.

Well I would have to say that they were quite good batsmen, and Flash Jack bowled from the other end, looking for revenge, but he didn't find any.  In fact, one of the Poms came very close to a six, so they were clearly world-class batsmen.  Anyhow, he came close, as I say, but Mick was there, and took a superb catch, just inside the boundary.

Then Mick came back on again, and got three more, which put Flash Jack back in, and among the tail-enders, so he got his revenge then.  And that was how we beat one of the best England teams ever sent to Australia by the MCC.  Lucky for them that there were no journalists present, and the Speewah boys kept quiet about it, because they didn't like too much fuss and bother.

Mick could've played for Australia, you know, and I asked him once why he didn't.  He said that if he did, he would've had to go to England, and that didn't attract him, because his grandmother said it was a terrible place where all the convicts came from.  So he just played for the Speewah, now and then.

* * * * *

Note: there is a whole book of these stories, which I am currently pitching to publishers, but they will probably appear in an e-book.

There will be quite a number of these on the blog, all with the tags Speewah and Crooked Mick.

No comments:

Post a Comment