One of the great opportunities that cricket offers is, if you reach a certain standard, you can take the chance to travel the world, make new friends and play this great sport in warmer climes. It’s a perfect chance to escape the English winter and test your skills in a different environment.
At the end of September, Walmley Cricket Club captain Michael Waugh and Andy Hendry made their way to Australia to play cricket for clubs in Melbourne. A few weeks later, Jon Newis also flew out to join them. This brought the Walmley CC contingent in Melbourne to four with Walmley old boy Tom Burton already there having made Melbourne his home a couple of years ago. Mikey and Hendo went via Bali and Vietnam where they took in some local sites.
Once they got to Oz they soon settled in and got their cricket seasons started. Hendo is playing for Royal Park Brunswick, a club to the North West of Melbourne city. Jono is playing for Bellbridge which is a suburb 20 minutes further west of Melbourne whilst Mikey and Tom are playing for the same club, Mazenod, which is to the east of the city.
One of the early highlights of a Melbourne summer is the Melbourne Cup, the biggest horse race in Australia. The whole city grinds to a halt and everyone becomes racing fans for the day. The boys joined in.
Mikey and Jono went to Hendo’s for Christmas where fortunately Sophie took on the cooking duties. They also spent part of Christmas Day on the beach. The boys also formed their own Barmy Army to take in the Australia v India Boxing Day test at the mighty MCG. As well as a boat trip down the Yarra river with Sophie’s parents.
In the 3 week break from cricket over the Christmas period, Mikey took in a music festival and then he and Hendo went on a road trip up the Great Ocean Road and through the Grampian National Park to Adelaide where they spent a few days. A bit of golf occurred along the way.
As for the cricket, a lot of the league cricket is played over two weekends so they don’t play as many games in a season and it can be quite difficult to get any continuity (it’s possible to go several weeks without getting a bat!). Bellbridge have had a difficult season but Jono has taken regular wickets and in the last couple of weeks has found some form with the bat. He is currently second in the batting averages and third in the bowling.
Hendo has made several telling contributions for Brunswick and tops the batting averages with 354 runs at just under 40 and has 4 wickets.
Mazenod, where Mikey and Burto are playing, have had a very successful season and are, so far, unbeaten at the top of the table. They are already through to the Grand Finals but need to win both of those games to gain promotion. Both lads have been in decent form with the bat and are fighting it out at the top of the league averages – Mikey slightly ahead with around 550 runs at 70 while Burts has just under 500 at 53. They have both joined an elite list of players to make a century at the Johnson Oval (mainly elite because the ground was renamed not long ago!).
Tom is way ahead in the wickets with 20 to Mikey’s 8. Whilst they have some of the same issues we have at home in that one weekend in November was a washout, the reserve day to play that fixture in early February was then also abandoned as it was heated off. This happens when the temperature is over 37 degrees Celcius – not sure that will become a rule over here any time soon.
Mikey and Jono will return at the beginning of April for the season with Walmley whilst, despite us trying to persuade them that they are needed at Eldon Drive, Tom and Hendo are staying in Oz.