Thursday, December 6, 2012


Chief Boronia Park groundsman, Dmitry 'The Heavy Roller' Stokov, had the boundary rope well beyond the normal field dimensions in last nights 20/20 challenge at Epping. Indeed, such was the width of 'The Rollers' deployment, that arriving teams were forced to field back up and part time batsmen in order to bolster what loomed as a night of dot balls. And as the Wisden reporter packed up his trusty pencil, the senior sheet told a sorry tale - with only two batsmen playing all 600 deliveries, and hardly anyone managed a five!

Despite the uncharacteristicly slow pitch, and the dearth of high scoring, round ten attracted a good crowd - with 209 paying at the turnstiles, and another 16 or so being admitted to the outer under Group pass arrangements. The run of good SSS weather saw teams taking to the field in mild mid/low 20 degree conditions - ideal for a steady accumulation of runs, that is until they saw how the curator had prepared the ground, and its green top.  

The click of turnstile and clink of coin delivered a landscape format match programme that drew initial gasps from team managers. Look at the spread, the width, the distance between wickets! Dmitry looked to have gone west with the enthusiasm of John Wayne in dusty chaps. Apart from the daunting control spread, another curiosity was noted - 'The Heavy Roller' had angled the paddock to get more sun on the centre pitch, giving the north lines a drunken lean (somewhat akin to the many well lubricated patrons from Wee Waa's finest families, often seen holding forth in the members bar at the SCG).

This was our second match at The Sanctuary, although the first to use the Boronia Park Pavilion. The course looked very wide, very very wide, and instinctively, runners thought more of a defensive shot through the covers than a hook to backward point. It had that effect. A three would be good scoring, with very few expected to post a six over the brickpit chimney. What was probably the most disappointing to our lower order players was the amount of points well out of reach. The course seemed about 12/12.5 klms, longer than the MCC rule book recommends, and with the significant scoring well to the west (rather than only a few curly ones out there for Glenny and the King), low totals were going to be the order of the day. Dot, one, dot, dot, two, dot. You get the idea.

Let's look at the course in more detail.

Close to the start/finish we had a nice ten/twenty that attracted significant interest. There was a nice connect running clockwise from these two that led to the Sanctuary itself (and its tough forty point ask), and a loop west to the brick pit and the upper reaches of Terry (Murphy) Creek. Here westerly extensions drew batsmen from their crease, often to their regret, chasing a boundary or two before realising the lunch break was coming up and the need to completing the circle. The puff O meter was often in full deployment as the long run home took its toll on poor footwork and timing.

Most seemed to feel the pull of a clockwise circuit, typically running 1,16 (not sure why the map showed green on this leg, when it was an all clear track??!!),27,13,28 (most ignoring 11/12),18,22,30 and some sort of construction via 9,23,8,21 (hopefully) and a series of dot balls home. On this loop, the in/out to 18 had the flavour of a Billy Bowden crocked finger 'six' indication, with the clue change catching a few. Number thirty required exertion, whilst the run connecting 22 to 23 rewarded those that like to feel their spikes bite into the couch.

Although most traffic seemed to be clockwise, a few took off westwards bagging 17,14,21,8 before drinks at Terry's. If you had the runs in you, working the ball off the pads towards long on, and going 21,29 (ignore #4 - probably our lonely pot),24,20,19 and 25,6 to the creek, had its reward - and could result in team selection for the Hobart test. In this outer ring, #5 at short cover also distracted, and might have run #4 for 12th man duties. The fiddling around in this 5,24,20 area needed concentration to avoid a run out, and was a nice part of the map, and the setting. Just a pity it was so far from home for the majority of the players.

I've mentioned the Sanctuary being a low reward for effort, but note 'Not' Terry 'Creek' Bluett got in a bit of O practice by legging these two twenties in his 280 LM point total. The cool hand of Contour Kate also was at work here, keeping many a batsman from chancing a cheeky run. Number 28 also required a bit of a drop to secure, but not the effort of the Sanctuary twins and as a consequence, had more fans. Most other points and locations were clear enough (when you got to them), with only a few reporting slow running at #23 to the third umpire. 'The Cucumber' reports lost time at #2 for some reason, but not to quite the same extend as his recent innings for the Central Coast Cowboys at Lake Haven - where his middle order innings ended in LBW after arguing with officials.

Nice to see the small O flags once again, and the WHO mob in full regalia. A toughie Dmitry, and a rather low scoring flog, but lets take a look at the team performance before repairing to the Ladies Stand and a chance to meet our country cousins.

Our top score was 520 runs from WHO's opening bat, Andrew 'Graeme Gooch' Hill. This is a welcome win for Andy who has been shaded in recent innings by some strong colts from the Garingal team. Most of the other winning scores in the age divisions were exceptional runs - and much as expected, with perhaps a few of them to remark upon here. Firstly no sub juniors - a surprise as young Dunk is usually the first to pad up in the SJM, and we have been enjoying the exploits of sister Ellen or 'The Mayor'. Secondly, we see a remarkable run from Mal 'The Nail Gun' Ramsey, taking the honours in JM with 400 to shade 'The Mattress' by ten. Michele Dawson wins in JW with a quiet 260, and the only post in this category, while Gill took the long handle to the Open Women bowling, piling on 460 to go past Wendy - out for 430 after a reverse sweep skied to square leg.

Greg 'The Oil Rig' Barbour was in good touch in the vets, shading an earlier innings from Mike Burton (510/490), while in VW, Karen 'The Holiday Cottage' Blatchford ran 350 to outpace Paula. Karen has been Newcastle's form batswoman of late, and didn't disappoint here. Another score perhaps worth a smudge of the 2B - the three equal winners in WaM, with 'The Clay Pan', 'The 70's' and 'The Glove' all posting 230's.

As this season has seen the last test for 'Punter' Ponting, Pork Pie thought he would look for a likely replacement bat for the number four position from within the SSS ranks - and offers the following 4th placegetters: In the mens team, JM's Michael 'Darling Harbour' Brereton (230 after a 57.40 outing), Mark Schaefer (OM with 480 points), Neil 'The Organ' Lefevre (MM, 420), Malcolm 'Motto Guzzi' Bradley (a nice 430 in VM), Ian 'Doc' Cameron in SVM with 330 (this is technically 5th, as we had three SV batsmen in equal 2nd), Dave Lotty in the Legends (290, including consecutive boundaries over silly mid off), and Lloyd Gledhill's 250 in IM. Our women's team offers, Clare 'The Tattoo' Williams from IK with 390 in OW, Louise Brierty (300 in MW), Helen MacDonald (clearly benefiting from brother Alan's bowling instruction, with 270 in VW), Carol & Debbie with equal 4ths in SVW (250's), and Hannah & Robbie in the groups - with 190.

I've mentioned we only had two 600 runners, Glenn (home in 53.46 for his 510) and Lee 'The Enigma' Coady - working the slower ball for 350pts in his long stay (69.01!!) at the crease. The cruel second strikes again, but helps to confer Lee with the special 'longest at the crease' award. Something we wished Ricky had achieved in Perth.

Our most popular scores were three groups of eleven batsmen each (you can see where the theme is coming from!). Team 280 with several Garingal stars, including Lisa 'Linseed Oil' Linssen as captain and TKF Cox as wicketkeeper, are in group recovery after just not quite getting to the 300 run mark that would have ensured a Christmas bonus. Alison Curtin went closest, having thrown the bat at 360 points, but underestimated her return run. 'The Venetian Blind' is hoping coach Miller will forgive.  Team 260 included a range of ages amongst its players, and were ably led by opening bat Rod Eckles 'Cakes' and his partner at the crease Mitchell 'Hoping For A' Bye.  Also noted amongst this inner city team are captain Duncan 'Kings' Cross and cunning leg spin bowler Chris 'The Googly' Cunningham. Lastly we have the eleven 240's. This team included several well known players, including legendary fast bowler 'Tearaway' Ted Dexter...oops, Mulherin, Clifford 'Ted' Heath (captained the parliamentary team in 1980), and specialist number five Nicole 'Pup' Sellin. Junior star Kaj Bollerup is also noted in this line up, and feared for his away swing bowling. 'Bowl 'em up Kaj' is the cry as our 240's take the field.

Some good Group scoring this round, including the tidy 370 runs from Annaliza and Michael Merryment, and, by way of contrast, Heidi & Angus not liking the off cutter in their modest 100 pt post. Dave Stitt is noted 'groupless' this innings, posting 180 after a 65.01 (another 1"!!) occupation of the crease.

There are many other interesting and amazing scores, generally of more modest proportions than many of the fancies will be used to, but there you go! Big thanks to Dmitry and the WHO crew for putting on another SSS biggie - and failing to tempt The Pork Chop once again into the arms of The Sanctuary! Next time maybe, but it will have to need several thirty pointers I suspect. Be also good to see the area around the old brick plant finished, and maybe a checkpoint on the chimney!

Next week sees the Feet taking off their socks once again, this time giving the lower limbs a touch of carnivorous running as we tackle Butchers Block Point and the delights of Longueville. 'The Planets' is our course setter, and one hopes he keeps his natural speed and spread in check as he places pots perspicaciously with us mere mortals in mind. This is always a great event, with its interesting mangrove and creek side tracks, the excellent harbour views and that nice touch of mortgage pressure often evident hereabouts. Make it a date, perhaps a semifinal fling, as we close in on girth expanding times and ruination by Visa.

Speaking of finals, the following event (#12) at Balmoral is our traditional pre Christmas work out at this sensational location. Although we are starting at Suakin Drive, I'm informed that the Bennelong Bunnies are going to drive us towards the beach and the waft of shark and tatie. A great way to end the first half. But wait!.... 'The Sauce Bottle' is going one better, putting up a corker on Boxing Day at Freshie to really end the year. I'll talk more about this one next week, but note than Ian is advising of earlier starts (from 3pm) with last starts at 6pm. It's a public holiday so no excuses about work causing a no show. The Manly Mayor is promising a sensation!  




the unknown runner said...

I think MR PP is right. The "High Roller" should have read the email sent out to all course setters regarding the length of a hilly course. If you were not fast it was a battle to score over 300.

Dave said...

I know it was a long course, but I personally loved it. There were plenty of tough decisions, some hills and a good range of pots tempting runners to over-extend.

Dave said...

Have others been enjoying Chris Brown's optimal route reviews?

Also Ran said...

I agree with Dave. Yes it was a tough course, but that made for lots of tough decision making. I think it's good to have such a layout in the mix occasionally. It would be rather dull if the winner got 600 in 44:55 every week.

Daniel Dohle said...

I agree with Dave and Also Ran. It's good to have these type of courses in the mix every now and then. Makes for some good variety and means people have to think harder and control the urge to get that extra pot.
If you are back in time in this type of course, it feels great.
Only thing that could have been done a little bit better is to provide some more pots closer to the start for the slower people and walkers. I understand their frustration.

Course setter said...


I had to compromise either to put more controls closer to start/finish but most of them I'd have to place on the streets. Or put them further and make people to do a bit more mental work along with running. I went for option 2.

I personally started to loose interest to Summer Series events exactly for the reason of being too simple navigation/thinking wise...

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