“So I don’t have to log in anymore?” asks Reg to his son Brayden
“Yes..” confirms Brayden though there is more. “...but the app does it for you dad, you just have to open it and confirm.”
Reg growls puts his cricket bag down and shuffles through it to find his phone. “Its called Bread stick in’it?”
“Breadcrumb, dad.” replies Brayden.
For the Lions, our fictional Cricket Club, it is the last day of cricket before the Christmas New Years break. Reg and Brayden are playing in the fifths which is known as the father and son team. While they have only won two games for the season there is still a joy in the team. It is amazing that they are actually playing cricket in Melbourne, in December 2020. No one says this. No one wants to jinx it.
Uber Drivers and Sanitiser
“Sanitise boys.” reminds Shuresh. It is Shuresh’s first year captaining. His uncle, father and younger brother are all in the team. Neither his father or uncle were able to play last year. Working from home enabled Shuresh’s father to play. Uncle Ravi was not so fortunate. Ravi was let go in June. Uber has filled a gap but its far from the office job he used to hold.
At the end of the first 40 overs the Lions Father and Son team have ended 7/147. Ravi and Brayden made most of the runs. Ravi ended up 61 not out. Reg and Ravi walk off together to applause from the rest of the team.
“Who ordered the Uber for tea?” shouts out one of the opposition players. Of course there is an Uber sticker on Ravi’s car. The unobservant cricketer did not see the sticker when he entered the ground.
“Probably lost, cause he can’t read english good.” shouts another. There is pause as the Lions team all share glances. This has happened before.
“The Uber driver hit you for three sixes Mitch, shut up.” snaps the opposition captain. It is a bit cool for a while but the conversations all start up again. There is cricket to be played.
A Close Match
On the middle oval the Lions third team are playing in a tight game. While bowling well they were not able to stop their opponents from scoring 165. The thirds are an assortment of players ranging from old Mick who has been at the club for thirty years to young Mick who is playing his first game in the threes.
Captain of the threes, Shaun is a bit nervous. They have only won three games so far and this one will not be an easy run chase. Old Mick is doing well being the solid opener he is. However the wickets are falling regularly at the other end.
Eventually Shaun has to bat because Old Mick is run out by a miracle direct hit. Young Mick is next in to bat. There are six overs to go and they need 49 runs with seven wickets in hand.
From the third oval the fives have turned up early. They got rolled for 103 and the other team made the score in 20 overs. A few weeks ago they would not have been allowed to do this. Victorian regulations for cricket were as follows. Turn up, play, sanitise breaks every ten overs and go home straight after the game. You could not even stay behind for a meal after training.
Scoreboards Are Important
There are few who still wear masks after the game. Certain parents turn up with masks on, just to be safe. Some players have not turned up at all.
“Where’s Stoney?” asks fifths player Ahn to everyone. “I saw him after the first round but he left..?”
“He’ll come when he wants to.” replies Old Mick.
“Is it cause of the Sydney outbreak?” Ahn offers trying to understand.
“Well played Shaun!” shouts Old Mick as Shaun has just carved a nice shot behind gully for three.
“Some people want to wait till the vaccine is available.” begins Brendon who top scored in the fives losing game. “Stoney used to work for Red Cross in Africa. He’s seen places go from peaceful to chaos in weeks. Gotta wonder how that makes you see covid in your hometown.”
“Scoreboard Ahn.” commands Old Mick.
“How many?” replies Ahn as he moves toward the small scoreboard.
“122 off 35.” says Luke who is scoring with young Mick’s Dad.
Shaun has the strike at the start of the 36th over. He gets a single. Another single returns Shaun to the strike. Shaun tries a fine cut and nicks it to the keeper. Young Mick has to go out to bat.
Shaun throws his bat into his bag and rips his pads off in disgust. There is quiet over those gathered around the scorers. Young Mick gets a single off the last ball of the over.
“Scoreboard Ahn.” says Luke.
“Ok...125 off 36, right.” states Ahn correctly.
The next over is a series of singles between young Mick and Lachy who still thinks he ran out Old Mick. Ahn updates the scoreboard to 129 off 37.
Three dot balls and then Young Mick threads the ball through the covers for four.
129 off 37.
Shaun has calmed down and is hoping for the best but expecting the worst.
Young Mick then unleashes on a short pitched delivery clearing the boundary. This is followed up with a four down the ground.
139 off 38. Two overs to go. 27 runs required.
Young Mick Goes Big
Then it happens. Young Mick crunches another six, two fours, a sneaky two runs, and then a single. Lachy finishes the over with two runs.
“About time” Says Young Mick’s Dad. The tension is mixed with delight. Shaun is slapping people on the shoulders.
161 runs in the final over. Five runs to win.
The field is back and Young Mick drives the ball to Mid-off for a single, four runs to win. Five balls remaining.
Lachy hits the winning runs with an edge through the vacant slips. Its all over. Cheering begins.
Later after Shaun shouts the team.
“I didn’t think we’d be playing this year.” Says Old Mick to Reg.
“Can’t say I didn’t think the same.” replies Reg.
“CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!!” shouts Shaun. “Young Mick! Young Mick!”
The rest of the club trickles into the ground. The sun sets over the city, red sky, pink clouds. It will probably rain on Sunday, its still Melbourne.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.