The Vincibles: A suburban cricket season
Text, $19.95 pb, 217 pp
When you bump into people who know Gideon Haigh – and that happens a lot in Geelong – they will tell you about his encyclopedic knowledge of cricket, his dedication to detail, and his casualness with money. I want to add to this list of his idiosyncrasies a delicious ability to turn the mundane into the magnificent. For this is exactly what The Vincibles is to we weekend warriors – a magnificent vindication of our very existence.
I will try not to descend into hagiography, but right from the title – a clever play on the epithet given Bradman’s 1948 side – this book starts out as beautifully as Trumper V. in full cry. Some bits are so cleverly constructed they have to be read twice, even thrice, to be fully appreciated:
We look, accordingly, very rusty, not to say crusty. Big John’s first over for the season includes a full toss metres above the batsman’s head, and a triple bouncer that zeroes in on point. I wear one in the chest when I get into position to hook, then remember I don’t hook. ‘Jeez, you’re tough,’ comments Tommy, my partner. ‘No,’ I confide, ‘just crap.’
This is the reality of being smitten by cricket for all but the select few. At fifty years of age, I simply can’t imagine not playing cricket on Saturday, something I have been doing since I was fourteen. Not only would I miss batting and bowling but the exchanges between people with whom you share your smittenness – or the challenges of just getting underway. We don’t play on carefully manicured grounds. Only last week, we had to dig a trench almost the length of the Suez, or the sewers, to drain the water around the concrete and plastic wicket just so play could start. The ‘super-sopper’ was a couple of old towels from the boot of someone’s car.