At the Annual General Meeting last week, Greg Mail and Mark Faraday became Life Members of Sydney University Cricket Club. It goes without saying that the contribution of these two men to our club can not be summed up in a few words.
It is only fitting that a fellow Life Member pens a farewell piece to these two men who have given more to our club than any, James Rodgers penned a fitting tribute to the Greg and Mark published in the 2016/17 Annual Report.
FAREWELL FROM SUCC TO GREG MAIL AND MARK FARADAY
When Don Bradman died, John Williamson sang a tribute where he pleaded with the Don to give us one more parade.
There’s no point pleading with Maily and Faras to give us one more game. Like all cricketers, eventually they’re finished. In Maily’s laconic words, ‘I’m not playing cricket anymore.’
Just reverting to Bradman for a moment, Bradman scored 3221 runs in 1st Grade in Sydney with 14 centuries.
Maily scored 15,242 runs including 44 centuries.
Even Faras outscored the Don with 4050 runs in 1st Grade with SUCC alone together with his 1000 for Manly.
But I suppose we’d better put these figures into context. Bradman played only 36 innings in 1st Grade.
I went to see an elderly Dr HO Rock about 35 years ago. He’d played for SUCC just after World War I and he’d also played for NSW. He has a higher Shield average than Bradman. He scored over 700 runs and averaged 112 in Sheffield Shield cricket. Bradman averaged only 110. Now Dr Rock and Maily would have got on well together. When I asked the doctor about his record, he drew thoughtfully on the twentieth cigarette that he’d had that afternoon and, out of the corner of his mouth, (Yes. The corner of his mouth), he said disarmingly:
‘Well you know Bradman played a lot more games than I did. He had more chances to fail.’
I’m not sure how Faras and Dr Rock would have got along. Faras most likely would have advised him to give up smoking and then sent him his legal bill for his time. Now don’t think for a moment that I’m fixated on how much Faras earns as a high flying lawyer or the fact that he can regularly order the $40 ribeye steak at The Nags, washed down by the $75 Coonawarra Cab Sav, which retails at about $3.50 as I’m reliably informed by Liam Robertson and he’s always got an eye out for a bargain.
While we respect and admire our teammates, we often make sure that their heads are out of the clouds. So when I asked our guests’ teammates about their favourite moments, they avoided all talk of Mail’s 22 years in 1st Grade. His record 44 centuries and 72 fifties in 1st Grade, his nine 1st class hundreds, his record 15,242 runs, his 4085 1st class runs, his five 1st Grade premierships, his two Sheffield Shields. The stats are overwhelming. It was a little easier to forget Faras’ 6000 runs in Grade cricket, his three 1st Grade premierships. Now I’ve got to be careful with Maily’s figures. He tends to correct. A well-meaning spectator once called out to him after he’d run 41 kms of a marathon, ‘Only one km to go.’ Maily’s reply, out of the corner of his mouth, ‘I think you’ll find it’s 1.2 kms, sport.’
But you’ve got to go behind the stats to find the personalities. So, I went to Will Hay whose answer was incomprehensible: ‘Can GM story be one of GM stories that he told umpteen times although in fact doesn’t always relate to GM?’ The question mark at the end of that said it all. But that wasn’t all. It was followed by the message,’ I will be out of the office until Monday 22 May on work related travel…’ (a euphemism if I ever heard one), followed by the ever-helpful, ‘For immediate assistance, contact the Morgan Stanley Trading Team.’ So I rang the MSTT but quite amazingly, no one had ever heard of Greg Mail or Mark Faraday. What sort of lives do they lead at MSTT?
Danny Ward’s similarly incomprehensible story (which he spelled STOREY) drew a response from Smash: ‘You can take the architect out of Lebanon but…’
Then Eddie’s reply was equally cryptic: ‘I don’t use this email address any more.’ Well, if you don’t use it, how did you know that I was trying to contact you on it?
But I shouldn’t sledge my cricketing superiors too harshly, especially, to my mind, Eddie should still be playing for Australia. Incidentally, some Parramatta troll was pestering Eddie on social media (he must have got the right twitter address?) after 1st Grade beat Parra in this year’s semi-final. Eddie replied ‘How’s your Mad Monday going champ?’ Maily got in on the chat: ‘The correct response to this by anyone from Parramatta is ‘two weeks later than usual.’
To be fair, Eddie did come good…when he recalled Maily’s response to a journalist unwise enough to ask him if he’d scored a slower hundred than the one he’d just scored in eight hours against Victoria. Maily’s reply: ‘You don’t watch much cricket do you, mate?’
So the stories flew around.
Faras’ highest score for the Club, 186 at Waitara on an afternoon when 2nds piled up 520 was cast into the shadows by what happened the following week. Faras’ suggestion of a quick Friday night net was followed by a few beers, then a BBQ, then a few more beers, then a visit to Kings Cross with Rig! 5am bed, woken by 35 degree heat, a comatose Rig, a seedy Faras, a long trip to Waitara, having to be driven by Sarah due to the legal inability of the two senior players to do so , a wilting afternoon in the field, 520 not enough, 2nds soundly beaten.
On the other hand, when SCG MacGill failed to show for the start of a Sunday game at Village Green, Tim Laing offered Maily a sub fielder.
‘Nah. No thanks. We’ll beat you with 10.’
Maily never did rate slow bowlers: ‘they’re only there to see me comfortably from 40 to 80.’ And when a 1st Grade spinner suddenly changed from right arm off spin to left arm orthodox, Maily informed the umpire that it didn’t really matter because he was rubbish at both.’
Maily was rarely out of his comfort zone, piling up runs at the crease, catching them easily at slip, bowling his medium pacers, beer in hand in the dressing room commenting wryly on the day’s play. But at the 2016 Club presentation night at Darling Harbour, about midnight, after scrapping Will Hay off the floor, Mel insisted that Greg step onto the dance floor and shimmy along to Justin Beiber. For the first time, Maily was wrong-footed.
Dressing rooms tend to see cricketers at our most uninhibited. Consider this conversation:
Faras to Ward: Does Smash have a sister?
Ward to Faras: Yeah. Why?
Faras to Ward: Smash has such beautiful curves that I’m thinking of making a play for his sister.
We know how that ended.
One of the great things about University cricket is that the onfield banter tends to be far more cerebral and often causes confused rage in opponents. A Sutherland batsman’s appearance at the crease this season was greeted by Maily’s, ‘don’t worry. He’s batting 15 spots too high in the order.’
Faras was less succinct but just as effective.
When Danny McLauchlan threatened all sorts of violence against our batsmen in a semi-final against Bankstown, Faras stopped the game, reported the threat to Umpire Goodger, told Danny that he’d sue him, turned to Goodge and told him he’d sue him also for failing to fulfil his duty of care as an umpire. Was this the same Darren Goodger who was allowed into Cargo Bar one Saturday night with Laurie Borg while Faras was left outside, shamefaced, refused admittance?
Of course, prolific batsmen like these two tend to talk more about their bowling. Bradman was proud of his two Test wickets, Wally Hammond and Ivan Barrow. Maily has good reason to remember his first 1st class wicket, the great VVS Laxman caught in the gully by Gavin Robertson or the four Test players in his 4 for 18 against WA: North, Nicholson, Casson and Angel.
On the other hand, Faras has little to boast about. Not even one 1st Grade wicket, including Scott Henry’s deliberately dropped catch on the boundary at Village Green.
Let’s return to John Williamson’s words:
‘Sir Don, you gave us pride in ourselves.’
Similarly, Nick Larkin said this about Maily:
‘You set new benchmarks and consistently high standards for performance, behaviour, spirit of cricket. You never lowered the intensity. You had the respect of every player. You were revered by your team and this Club. You shaped the way that 1st Grade played, with belief, attacking, resolve and confidence. We scaled the heights and we are now the envy of clubs across the competition.’
On a personal note, when I was asked by Theo to take over as Chairman after Mick O’Sullivan’s death in 2013, I said I thought I could do it as long as we had Maily captaining 1st Grade and TK 2nds and Faras and Theo on the Board. Their combined wisdom, integrity, and judgement were exceptional. Both Maily and Faras played in the 1st Grade Premiership side that year, and TK and Theo in the 2nd Grade premiership, premierships that meant so much. Kerry O’Keeffe texted me on the night after our great victories: ‘Micko will be on the Reschs in Heaven.’
One of the more memorable innings I’ve seen in any Grade was played by Faras that afternoon. We needed 144 on a very difficult wicket. Faras came in at 3-30 which soon became 6-71. He’d played with exemplary technique and patience, sacrificing his natural instincts, and greeted Tim Ley with, ‘Timmy, there’s more pressure in a 10 foot putt. Have a go at them and we’ll win this.’ Faras’ 36 was worth three times the runs. Tim made an inspiring 48 not out. We were home by 3 wickets after being bowled out for 37 in the 1st innings.
But where was Maily? Best man at Chris Campbell’s wedding. He’s a man of his word. He’d promised Chris months before.
So Maily and Faras won’t come out one more time as much as we’d love them to. But what they’ve left is a colossal legacy that is unsurpassed at this great Club; the greatest records, the fondest memories, battalions of friends, who’ve all been so proud to share this with you tonight.