Anecdotes – Best of 2020
2020 – the season that was
With the exception of the War years (1942 to 1945) when the Competition was stopped, we haven’t seen a season like this one. Just think for a moment on what we have experienced since December:
- Grounds closed for ‘catastrophic fire conditions & poor air quality’ (21 December)
- Round washed out (18 January)
- Extreme heat cancellations (1 February)
- Washed out (8 February)
- Semi-Finals rain affected (14 March)
- Grand Finals cancelled due to COVID Virus (21 & 22 March)
- Junior Rep trials postponed (29 March)
We now also have the Junior Presentation Day (21 March) cancelled due to COVID-19. The Seniors Presentation was also cancelled due to Government restrictions on non-essential gatherings with more than 100 people.
While it has been another great season, once play has actually occurred,
A record season
How about this for a great season:
- 799 unique registered players (a Club & Association record)
- 39 Junior Teams – the record is 40 Teams in 2015/16 but is +4 on last season
- 5 Girls teams – +2 on last season which is the highest number of Teams since 1999/2000
- 12 Senior Teams – equal to our Team entrances in 2009/10 & 2011/12. It is also +1 on last season and is an Association record
- 98 Junior Blasters – +25 on last season
- Blowfly Cricket – approx. 20 participants
We guess this means we are doing something right so thank you to everyone – Players, Volunteers, Leaders – this is due to the collective effort of so many great people who we are proud to be part of our great Club.
There is nothing like seeing 2 brothers batting together and being involved in a comical batting partnership. Picture this. Rowan Dickinson (C3 & pictured far right back row) batting with older brother Callum (pictured far right, front row) with the Team 9/134 (Vs Thornleigh, 5th & 12th October 2019). Rowan has just taken 10 runs off the last over and was on fire. Enter older brother Callum who wasn’t going to be outdone by Rowan. On the 2nd ball of the next over, Callum pushed the ball gently to a very short mid-off and decided here was the opportunity to get Rowan runout.
Week 2 – the sequel
Come Day 2 and Rowan was obviously still fired up. After Thornleigh were ‘invited’ to bat again Rowan was again the main destroyer with 4/11 (6 overs) and giving him match figures of 8/27 in 14 overs. While just missing out on the rare 10 for the match (only 52 times in our history), it is a great result. Unfortunately, his Captain, (Buzz) now knows how to fire him up – get him cranky and make sure he bats with his brother every match.
Praneel Singh (D2)
We haven’t had a Space Cadet recently, but this week it just happens to be one of the best players in D2 – Praneel Singh. The following quote from Captain Mike says it all:
“Praneel next time you decide to make a late decision to run your Captain out, remember who has all the power in this team!!!!! So we are 3 for 50 at the end of play. We have 7 wickets in hand which should allow us to get the remaining 53 runs required to win.”
The bottom line – if you are going to be involved in any runout – make sure it isn’t your Captain.
An Opposition Captain
We rarely mention the Opposition in this piece but had to this week. In one of our higher Grades, the Opposition were 2/275 overnight and decided to bat on. There is an old saying that if you can’t defend 270+ then the Opposition deserve to win. But…the skipper, who happened to be on 89* overnight, batted on until he got to a personal milestone of 100 – giving us a target of 310 in 60 overs. The obvious result – a draw.
Another Opposition Captain
We usually reserve this great honour for one our own – it is like a badge of honour, just ask the great Eric Junkkari who has been to space and back more times than anyone. Alas, this week an Opposition Captain is the winner.
In the C3 game just completed, the Opposition were 7/44 overnight, chasing 144. Before play started, the Opposition Captain advised that their last remaining batsman was unavailable this week and that he was declaring the innings closed and that he was sending us back in to bat.
Buzz then gave this offer a nanosecond’s thought and cordially advised that actually, they could have a 2nd bat as he enforced the follow on! Somehow they hadn’t reckoned on that?! The result – they were rolled for 40 before the first drinks break and we got 10 points.
Stu Fiedler (C1 Blue skipper)
We have had a couple of Opposition players win this prestigious nomination this season and this is another one that adds to an impressive list. To quote Stu Fiedler (C1 Red, Skipper):
“Our bowling innings started with a bang with Waris ‘no. 11’ Trehan taking a wicket in the first ball of the game. The batsman wasn’t too happy with his shot, with him smashing his bat into the ground and met with the reply of the mighty wrath of Campbell Park, his bat broke in half.”
Profile of a centurion
Rohit Ninan (B1) scored his 2nd ton for West Penno (Round 4, 19th October 2019) with 109* which is our 485th ton. What makes this even more special is that he opened the innings and batted the entire the day – what a fantastic effort. So what is Rohit’s secret and how does he go out and dominate a quality attack? The secret has been unveiled:
- Pads – use your 14 year old brother’s pads that are way too small but don’t hinder running between wickets
- Bats – well let’s leave this one. Imagine what would happen if the bat actually had a grip on it!
Famous last words
Stu Fiedler, C1 Skipper (pictured left with Tarun Lath) sent a note out on TeamApp just after he won the toss in their game against ARL. After choosing to send the opposition in he commented
“Won the toss, bowling first at Greenup Park….what could go wrong?”
Next TeamApp update: “ARL 0/127 at Tea”.
The boys did fight back and had ARL at 8/225 before they declared.
“Don’t sledge my son”
Andrew Morris (A2 Blue) opens the batting with his son Zac and they are an awesome partnership. Andrew finished the day (Round 3, 26th October 2019) with his 4th ton but had motivation. During the game, against Hornsby at The Glade, one of the Hornsby players referred to Zac, in derogatory terms while he was keeping. Not a good decision. As Andrew reminded the Opposition player “Don’t sledge my son” – this gave him the motivation to play a match winning innings.
The Sheep Station Cup
Round 5, 2nd & 9th November 2019) is a special one. We had not 1 but 2 ultimate clashes between our own in the Sheep Station trophy.
We have a history of our Teams playing against each other since the 1990s. It wasn’t though until 16 December 2017 that the Sheep Station Trophy was formally introduced. The game was an A2 fixture between Rick ‘Couldn’t call a cab’ Turner (A2 Blue) and Simon ‘Couldn’t toss a salad’ Smyth (A2 Red) – two of the worst ‘Tossers’ in our Club. For the record, Rick won the toss but lost the match played at Dural Park.
What is different this week is that we have 2 Teams playing against each other in the same Round, simultaneously and at the same time:
- A2 Red (Andy) Vs Blue (Gunny) – at The Glade
- D1 Red (Diggers) Vs Blue (Rob) – Greenway Park (pictured)
We have a magnificent trophy that was made by Rick Turner that will somehow have to be shared between Teams.
While on the Sheep Station Cup
Another bit of Club history in the A2 Sheep Station Cup. For the first time in our history we had a father (Ben Meikle) and son (Andy) play in the same Grade, against each other (Round 4, 2nd & 9th November 2019). On every other occasion the father / son combinations have played together. Anyway, there is more to the story.
Playing at the Glade Oval, says it all, Andy’s Team (Red’s) are bowling and out comes Ben to face his son. The Match Report from Gunny says it all:
“One of the moments of the innings though would have to be Ben ‘fine wine’ Meikle, who only gets better with age, getting completely bamboozled and bowled by a wrong-un, bowled by his son of all people, for a golden duck. Couldn’t have written a better script.
‘Not happy’ Ben later came on to bowl – back to Gunny:
“Defending 143, the Blues were actually quietly confident of making a match of it….Better Meikle then entered the scene, looking for redemption. Boy was the old fella fired up.
Benny put on a bowling Masterclass, picking up 5/35 (12 overs) putting us in a position to win this match. After Ben picked up one of his wickets, Andy walked to the crease. This was the moment for Benny. Yeah he didn’t get him out. He hit him for a 4 actually.”
Colourful cricketing identity
One of our Club Icons is making a name for himself in the media with multiple appearances in mainstream media. Who other than our Club Chair, Barry McDonald who stole the show at the SportsNSW Awards earlier this year plus ofcourse all the awards for Distinguished Long Service, multiple Life Memberships….the list goes on.
The reality of Barry’s increasing fame in the broader community has not been lost on Barry: “Actually, whilst modesty is my endearing feature, I am now a multi media personality….” after appearing on a double page spread in the Sydney Morning Herald recently.
Check out these latest entries:
Anatomy of a high score
Last Saturday we had a near record 3rd wicket C1 Grade partnership of 257* – falling just short of the current record of 259 scored back on 22/10/2011.
The partnership was by Campbell Wallace with 176* (pictured left) & Matt Schwartzel 83* (pictured right). For Campbell’s ton, it is also the equal 12th highest score in our Seniors History. The highest score is 225 scored by Ken Smith in 1956/57. His score included 26 x 4s & 1 x 6.
The story behind the scenes is what makes this interesting.
An update from his Skipper, Phill Hando follows:
“This is Campbell’s first season with WPHCCC and I didn’t get him to play for his batting. He is actually a bowler but due to breaking his leg 6 or 8 weeks ago (a small fracture while in a hurdles race) I have put him at first slip and not let him bowl.
He volunteered to open the batting with Jack as no one else wanted to. He has played cricket for years with the school (had last season off to do athletics) and has never hit a 50.
Also hasn’t played cricket for 2 years concentrating on Athletics for Kings
So the secret to success is to break you leg, not pickup a bat for 2 years, volunteer to open eth batting because no one else wanted to and go out and score 176* – sounds pretty easy actually.
I wish I could say I knew he was a batsmen all along!”
Who doesn’t she know?
Scattered throughout our Photo Gallery are photos of Jane Bish (Club Executive Member, mother of Dylan in C1’s, wife of Julian, CEO of the Bish household and all-round Super Mum). Anyway, last Sunday JB popped down to Mark Taylor Oval to watch the 1st Grade T20s involving Northern District CC. Apart from catching up with Mark Tubs Taylor; Peter Taylor and other well-known identities along comes the GOAT – Nathan Lyon.
Usually people like Nathan get asked for photos every day of the week and avoid them. But, when JB asked for a photo the opportunity for Nathan to be photographed with our own Super Mum was too good to resist. So, the accompanying photo shows a beaming Nathan and an equally impressed JB.
3 brothers with A1 numbers
Playing A1 Grade is special. To have 3 brothers receive an A1 Player number is special. So a big congratulations to the McBrien family who have achieved this milestone:
- James McBrien – player number 300 (debut 2009/10)
- Cameron – 317 (2017/18) (pictured)
- Lachlan – 325 (2019/20).
While rare, this isn’t the first time in our history. Since our first A1 entry in 1951/52 (68 years), we have had just 3 sets of 3 brothers earn an A1 playing number. Apart from the McBrien’s our other brothers who have achieved this wonderful landmark are:
- Bellamy’s (Alan, Alb and Ron) – players numbers 3, 4 & 5 (1951/52)
- Donaldson’s (John, Ken & Don) – numbers 30, 31, 32 (1963/64)
Well done boys.
The secret to success
Ben Meikle (A2 Red) is one of the top bowlers in the A2 Comp and has been for a long time. What is the secret to his consistent performances and how does he have such energy when most of his Team are fading late in the day. The secret has been found – an afternoon nap. This shot taken at Dural Park during the Tea break of the latest game finally reveals the secret.
So…who is the ‘better’ Larkham?
Going on in the background has been battle between father (Dave playing D1 and pictured with hat) ) and son (Brent, playing A2, pictured front left) Larkham about who would be the first to get to 50 wickets. Starting the season, Dave had 37 wickets and Brent had 47 wickets. After 61 overs Dave was the first to bring up his 50 wickets. Brent has bowled just 13 overs for his 1 wicket to be stuck on 48 career wickets. So it looks like bragging rights sit with the old man.
The fact that Brent scored a double ton 2 years ago and is in an old fashioned ‘shootout’ with Andrew Morris to be the first to reach 2,000 runs is a separate matter. When it comes to bowling ‘Disco Dave’ has taken the points.
Last week we reported that the Tamworth Carnival (U14s) was cancelled due to the drought. This week we were advised that the U16 Stan Austin (Taree) Carnival was cancelled for the first time. The official advice from the Manning Junior Cricket Association gives a great insight into the conditions our cricketing friends from the bush are experiencing:
“The Manning Junior Cricket Ass needs to apologize that due to the drought conditions on the Mid North Coast which are the worst we have experienced we need with great reluctance to cancel the Stan Austin Carnival for 2020.
The Mid North Coast Council have brought in level 4 water restrictions which bans use of water outside.
The lack of rain will not only hinder the preparation of turf wickets but also affecting the outfields, we have had to cancel the use of several grounds because of the dangerous condition of the outfields, one ground has cracks in it that a golf ball would easily go down.
We are cannot see any improvement of the situation in the near future according to the forecasts. We have had 2 withdrawals, 1 drought related.”
“I am simply in awe”
It is not every day you get the chance to play against a childhood hero but it happened in the D1 Game on the weekend when Greg “Yellow Wiggle’ Page played the boys. To quote Skipper Rob Hanich:
“D1 Blues have quite a few younger players in the squad. Each of them grew up watching and listening to the Wiggles. Today was a bit of a starstruck day for them. They could not believe they were playing against the original Yellow Wiggle Greg Page –here.
At one point while batting and facing Greg, Pravin could be heard turning to Greg and saying “I am simply in Awe!”.
Anyway a true gentleman Greg “Yellow Wiggle” Page agreed to have a photo taken with his fans.
The only disappointment is that Greg did drive e in a big red car. It was grey actually and not very big.
Lauren Kua – our latest Australian Representative
In December 2019, Lauren Kua was selected in the Australian U18 Women’s side. Lauren is now our 2nd WPHC Junior (behind Lisa Sthalekar) and our 3rd WPHC alumni (Denise Annetts) to be chosen for an Australian side.
Lauren played with us between 2015/16 and 2017/18. She scored 429 runs @ 61.29 with a top score of 46 retired. As a bowler, she took 15 wickets @ 14.73. In 2016/17 she was named as our Junior Girls Player of the Year.
She now plays Brewer Shield for Gordon. Testing the memory, Lauren was about 2 or 3 years under age throughout her Juniors career.
Well done Lauren on this wonderful achievement and still a lot more to come.
What West Penno Players do outside cricket
While on the SCG, during the lunch break on Day 1 of the Test Vs New Zealand Ray Khamis and Ryan Gunn competed to win a prize by hitting a ball through a bulls-eye target. They came close but just missed out. They did though get their 15 mins of fame by being on the centre field plus being interviewed and shown on the big screen. Great to see the boys wearing their Club playing shirts and Premiership caps.
Apart from being on the ground during a Test Match, the best part though was after the competition as the boys were leaving the field. Obviously scarred from a life of heavy defeats, a player from a nearby local Club came charging down to the fence and loudly proclaimed in a well thought out and eloquent commentary – “F— WPH”. Got to love it – the boys certainly did.
Family record achieved
It has been building for a while but on the weekend we had, for the first time, 8 family members from 2 families play in the same team at the same. The game was in C1 for our Red side playing Stu Fiedler’s Blue’s at Greenway Park. The photo says it all – from left to right:
The Schwartzel’s (Dan 17, Matt 17, Warren) and the Hando’s (Phill, Sam 20, Tom 19, Jack 17 & Harry 14). The family members are in age order. Adding to the History is that the Schwartzel’s (Dan & Matt) are twins.
To think that this has taken 90 years to achieve makes this a special achievement.
As mentioned in an earlier Anecdote, the previous record number of family members playing for our Club was by the 5 x members of the famous Donaldson family in the 1960s & 70s – Don (Snr), Don (Jnr), Jim and twin brothers John & Ken. While they all played A1, they never played together as a combination of 5.
This still has a long way to go from the early teams of the Association though. The South Colah Cricket Club had 18 sons of Patrick and John Duffy (Duffy Ave) of Thornleigh, Dural CC was sustained by the seven sons of Thomas Best, Pennant Hills CC by the 10 sons of Arthur Thompson (Thompson’s Corner) and Castle Hill CC by the eleven sons of John James.
The art of tossing
We have a few instances of bad coin tossers with Simon ‘couldn’t call a cab’ Smyth and Rick ‘can’t toss a salad’ Turner with a new star on the block – our very own Rob Hanich (D1 Blue – pictured left with Buzz Burrows) skipper. To quote Rob direct:
“Okay, as the author of the match report this week, I have no idea how I have managed to lose ten tosses in a row. It is becoming incredibly annoying and the team is past frustrated and now just think it is one massive joke. It would probably have been 11 losses from 11 tosses but last weeks game was washed out before we could do the toss. The book makers are now forming odds on whether Rob can win a toss before the season finishes.
The Club record for successive losses in a season is 15 straight by the great Greg Fiedler in the 1980s. We have a true champion in our midst.
How good is this. Cameron Croucher (C2) has just returned from New Zealand for birthday celebrations and shouted the boys to a beer from the family brewery. The Photo Gallery has more photos but it would be pretty hard to find a more perfect Team Member to make sure plays every game.
“That’s the worst shot I have seen you play”
Barry McDonald (pictured left), revered WPHC Chairman and legendary A1 Umpire, was umpiring our A1 game against Kissing Point on Saturday and Gav Taylor was batting. For those who don’t know, Gav is one of our great A1 players who was part of our 4-year Premiership winning dynasty. Anyway, Gav was batting and managed to get a golden when he hit a simple catch to Gully.
After the game, Barry was chatting to the boys and commented to Gav: “That is the worst shot I have seen you play”. This is what you call, telling it as it is.
Everyone who plays and contributes to our Club as a Volunteer is special. However, the contribution of some folk stands out as being exceptional. Enter Sreeni Pillamarri (Club Executive Member & C2 Grade & pictured center in purple shirt).
Last year, Sreeni walked from Sydney to Canberra to raise money for drought stricken farmers. Over the last few weeks Sreeni has stepped up again to help the Community. Sreeni was one of the main organisers of a Fundraiser Buffet at Dosa Hut NSW outlets (Harris Park, Dural & Penrith). They raised $6,150 to support Bushfire Fighters, victims and volunteers.
The funds raised at Harris Park ($1,650) and Dural ($2,500) was donated to the Dural RFS.
Sreeni didn’t stop there. He bought 150 battery chargers for the phones of RFS volunteers in Canberra – $2,028 of his own money. He then drove to Canberra and delivered the charges to our fire fighters.
It didn’t stop there. Sreeni also was one of the organisers with the UAS (Uttarakhandi Association-Sydney) who raised $2,500 for the Cherrybrook RFS Branch. Check out Sreeni’s Facebook page – here
Well done Sreeni – we are very proud of your efforts.
Women’s Social cricket
All the talk about Girls cricket is spot on but let’s not forget about the mums and older daughters. Last Wednesday, CNSW kicked off a Women’s Social competition, the 1st of its kind in Sydney and we were blown away with the attendance – 70+ ladies for a Come & Try day with 100+ expected when the 6 week Program starts next Wednesday (12th February). Over 15 of these ladies were from West Penno.
The interesting story, behind the headline success is the build-up. Remember that this is the first time this type of initiative has been run anywhere in Sydney. 10 minutes before the scheduled start there was a handful of ladies who trickled along. Then more came along and more still. What happened is that most of the ladies were waiting in their cars to see if anyone else turned up before appearing. They did, in a busload and the rest is history – an incredibly successful start with even better days to come.
Telling it like it is
Got to hand it to Ray Khamis (A2 Blue) who has a certain turn of phrase that while at times direct, is generally pretty spot on. This insight from his Skipper, Michael Gunn:
“Shout out to Ray for telling a Kenthurst player that his bat was broken. Upon personal inspection however, Ray decided he was mistaken and that the batsmen just wasn’t good enough to hit them anywhere near the middle only for him to nail one through cow-corner next over.”
The Best Day’s cricket
Steve ‘Buzz’ Burrows (C3) is one happy Skipper. Apart from already winning on the 1st innings and sitting on top of the Competition table, Steve had, in his view, the best day of cricket: his Team has already won, he didn’t have to bowl (the opposition was bowled out for 70), didn’t have to bat (we are 1/176 at stumps), didn’t score and didn’t have to give any decisions while umpiring.
Quote of the week
Probably not the best outcome going into the Semi Finals but our Blues (Gunny) played a 1-Dayer against 1st placed Normo at The Glade (says it all). Batting first we were rolled for just 35 with Brent Larkham top scoring with 19. Andrew Morris (pictured) summed it up perfectly in his TeamApp update:
“Runs on the board are always hard to beat. Pity we didn’t score any”
The boys also set a new record on the way – our lowest score in A2. The previous lowest was 54 scored by our Reds on 23/11/2019.