As cricketers we all share a deep love/hate relationship with this great game and for this we naturally bond as mates. The mateship is further strengthened between cricketers who share a common art, whether it is batting, bowling, wicket-keeping or in most cases, circuiting. SUCC exemplifies this mateship between groups. There is a beautiful bromance between opening batsmen at the club. The rarity of fast bowlers means they are social outcasts and so they gather for emotional support. Those with strong salads also tend to gravitate together. However there is no doubt in my unbiased view that the most prestigious group is the Keeper’s Union. The union has been home to some colourful individuals, all with good rigs and this piece will attempt to highlight their stories, both past and present.
The union gathers each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon somewhere on Uni No. 2. The specific location varies but necessities include a fence, proximity to practice wickets and soft grass for unnecessary diving. We always need to be far enough from the nets to allow time to evade the incoming bombs hit from the bowling of Liam Whitaker (formerly Stu McLean).
A typical training session will involve catching cricket balls off the face of a bat, shadow batting with tennis balls on the practice wickets, close knicks off a cone/stump and partaking in a slips cordon session. Josh Richards will regularly throw in a new theory on catching. For most of us we flatly refuse to conform but the teenage union members are unwilling participants – largely out of fear of union rejection I assume. One of JR’s worst theories was catching balls to his left hand side with only his right hand. Not only is it unrealistic, but have you seen his fingers? They are all the same width, same length, like Cuban cigars. No danger. Nevertheless, each session we are always striving to execute our Gary Whitaker disciplines #howgood but it is what happens between catching that makes the session and contributes to the unique culture of the union.
Circuit consultancy is a regular topic, discussing the weekends post game activities, swings and misses and what we could’ve done better. When Morgs was at the club, he took us to new lows; plastic bags and cheap vodka, say no more. But now we have the columnist Tom ‘not so’ Decent and early season form would suggest he will make some off-field headlines of his own.
What about the little nuisances of the keepers union, what we love and what we hate. We love standing up to the stumps unnecessarily, particularly to those disgruntled medium-fast bowlers who we know will be personally insulted by the ploy – Tim Ley (pre 2012), Ben Joy and Charlie Cull come to mind. But admittedly we should try to catch it when we’re up there, sorry Cully. We also love jagging a legside stumping; the prized dismissal that must be celebrated with exaggerated enthusiasm unless it is from Ash Cowan’s bowling and then its par for the course.
What we hate – dirty sheets! Morgs gave this term a literal meaning but for the rest of us we detest any number other than 0 that follows the lower case ‘b’ on the scorecard. What grinds us further is if the byes were from a dusty legside delivery bound for fine leg that was given ‘byes’ because it caught a millimetre of the cut grass. We also hate half volley throws, especially from point. We are more forgiving if its in the tactical interest of the team but in the 5th over when conventional swing is the ticket then half volley throws are a no no and we will treat your pathetic throw with the disdain it deserves.
Some notable mentions for former union members…. Daniel ‘bus driver’ Ward is a true SUCC great and stalwart of the union. As a junior union member under his guidance I learnt not only what it meant to be a part of the union and but also how to threaten others with organised Lebanese crime. He stamped his authority on the tennis ball drills, trying to pin the shadow batter with bouncers and beamers from the face of the racquet and when meant to be shadow batting, blatantly trying to hit the ball and allocating unrealistic runs to himself until he’d compiled a double century.
Brief mentions to current members Furby and his broken bean, reformed hawk BTJ, reluctant keeper Hugh Kermond, Shawry hunting flavour overseas, Penrith recruits Ben/Jarrod (same person?) and wanna-be keepers Popey, Hilly and his new rig and Islam.
Keep an eye out for the keepers union at your next training session; the group within the club you wish you were a part of.
Yours in union,