Royal Park Reds have declared the Park Cricket official ‘Trade Period’ open as half an eye is cast beyond September.
Given the need to fill a playing roster the week after the AFL Grand Final, this is the time for putting the feelers out in the networks in the hopes of filling the team sheets and 'call if needed lists'.
Mates of varying ability and characteristics are linked to the club at training sessions and pub catch-ups often with a description of what they are likely to bring to the club (if, indeed, they actually show up).
Here’s a relatively comprehensive list of the types of ‘Mates’ we’ll hear of and (maybe) meet in the coming months.
The Child Star
‘Made the Regional / State / National Kanga Cricket Squad’
This Phenom is in surprising abundance, having managed to slip through the cracks of the national talent development network. Numbers of this Mate are strong enough to cause real concern for National Talent Managers considering how many they've missed.
Despite an international career laying before them in their youth, this Doogie Howser would rather have a hit with the 3rd XI whenever their Mum can help out with the kids.
Pub tales of the hit that this prodigious junior made from medium paced under 12 bowling grow year on year to the point that it’s reputed to have spent more time in the air than most modern Australian Prime Ministers spend in office.
‘Plays in our mid-week mixed netball team’
This mates prowess at Wing Attack and ability to get everyone to pay their rego fees on time presents as an attractive bit recruitment. The logic that whipping around the outdoor courts at Clifton Hill will ensure a solid forward defence is a long bow to draw, but this mate is a potential future Treasurer and Association Delegate.
If nothing else, they’ll be handy in the field, probably able to organise a warm up and likely to bring something other than tim tams for tea.
The Name Dropper
‘Met them at the races. Said they’re keen’
This mate is usually a mate of a mate and their siren song can be a seductive lure at seasons dawn.
Armed with statistical evidence that Darren Berry was a better keeper than Ian Healy and anecdotes that Dazza a ‘really good bloke too’, this mate is the Tyrone Vickery of IGAMCD season.
They often can’t train for a range of reasons; their bat is getting shipped over from Adelaide, they’ve got a runner in a group one that week, they’re going to meet up with *insert former state players name* to see if they can ‘get them down’ to the club.
The suspicion that they are dodgy is confirmed at a pre-season function. This sentences them to the 4th XI who are desperate for numbers and have put up with their attempts to overtake the Captaincy.
Despite the fact that nobody believes their dross and can’t stand them, this mate will hang around for most of the season to listen to the sound of their own voice.
‘A gun. Genuine gun.’
Here it is folks. The White Whale of Park Cricket recruiting; a genuinely good cricketer that has been consistently successful at a grade higher than the one your club plays in.
Given the lure of bigger clubs paying money for their services*, the likelihood of them pulling on the pads for a couple of stale BBQ shapes and rather weak Koola cordial each weekend is remote.
The committee should be prepared to meet their demands where possible but should not go too far. This mate will want to just ‘play somewhere relaxed’ and having a set of desperados buzzing about could scare this rare beast off to a cushy $400 a game paid position.
Given that this player has probably worked very hard at their skills for a long time they don’t need you like your club needs them.
Best to present as laid back and hope like buggery the itch to have a hit gets the better of them.
The Reds remain hopeful that their neighbour at Poplar Oval Peter Siddle will pop over the road for a trundle with the 2nds.
Peaked in High School
‘Used to bowl smoke!’
A growth spurt in year 9 meant that this mate could send down high paced thunderbolts to clean up the frightened tail end of rival schools. Their poor English and Maths marks meant that they got an opportunity to do it again the following year.
After becoming the owner of a few extra kilos, a booze filled conversation at the high school reunion is enough to convince recruiters that the world has in no way caught up to or surpassed this jet from days of yore.
Best to have a back-up plan in the totally likely event that this mate breaks down after a session or two.
‘They flew to watch the entire Australia A tour of South Africa’
These are in relative abundance and a genuine requirement for any club. They should be gathered and nurtured at each opportunity, These are the Smurf-like figures that keep any club ticking bound together.
This mate will copy and post Gideon Haig articles into your teams Facebook group so your members don’t have to shell out their hard earned for content from the Oz.
They can bring astute knowledge of the Afgan test teams development and predict the likely finalists for the WBBL based on playing rosters.
They will be blessed with a highly specific cricketing talent that is unflappable; The ability to throw down the stumps every time within 20 meters, annoyingly hard to get away off spin or a sweep shot that brings runs regularly.
This quirky mate will have a score book ledger that is spot on and able to provide comparative strike rates of both batsmen at various stages of their innings.
The Royal Park Reds have begun training of sorts. They are still waiting for any of these mates to arrive. They live in hope... It could be you
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