Blasts from the past at Oakes
IT'S not bad having your own line in one of the most famous sporting jingles of all time, C'Mon Aussie, C'Mon, but former Australian fast bowler Len Pascoe reckons the only divot he's likely to make in Oakes Oval tonight (Friday) is if he falls over trying to take a catch.
The soon to be 60-year-old is one of the elder statesmen of the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) Masters Tour, which will take on a Lismore District Cricket Association Invitational XI in a Twenty20 match tonight.
So while Pascoe no longer looks like the menacing figure he was in his World Series Cricket (WSC) days, and former Test off-spinner Greg Matthews is feeling a bit buggered after long nights as a commentator on SBS's Ashes coverage, other members of the ACA Masters team, including Greg Blewett and Michael Bevan, don't look a day older than they did when they retired from the Australian team.
Pascoe has fond memories of playing a WSC match against the West Indies at Oakes Oval in the late '70s where the curator declared it was a 'batting paradise'.
“We were looking forward to getting a flat deck and facing the might of the West Indies,” Pascoe said.
“Michael Holding was springing off the sightscreen, and the first ball went over our opening batsmen, who were Trevor Chappell and Kerry O'Keeffe, because the rest of them didn't want to open the batting. The ball hammered into the sightscreen behind the 'keeper, one bounce.
“I think we were 4-0 in that particular match and we went looking for that curator back then.”
Pascoe said that the last ACA Twenty20 match he bowled in the ball was still 'orbiting'.
“It went into a black hole some-where, this guy hit it so hard,” he said.
“But it was in a match like this, that Dougie Walters discovered a stringy-boned kid out the back of Narromine and, of course, we know that to be Glenn McGrath.
“These matches are a fantastic opportunity for locals to showcase and find themselves earmarked to play in Brisbane or Sydney.
“This area up here has been a fantastic breeding ground when you consider one of the greatest cricketers of all time in Adam Gilchrist comes from this town.”
Matthews still rolls his arm over for Sydney University in grade cricket, but plans to ease his way back into playing after a long series of late nights and lack of sleep commentating for SBS on the Ashes and one-day series in England.
“It was just mentally and physically exhausting, I'm just going to ease my way back in. There's no great need, I tend to be more of a trouble shooter at Sydney Uni,” Matthews said.
“We (the ACA players) love making a contribution to the local community in that we have coached 8000 kids.
“We have raised more than $25,000 and, unbelievably, we have been watched by 80,000 people.”
Among the 'locals' in the line-up is former NSW batsman Matthew Phelps, whose parents still live at Clunes and run a macadamia business.
“My last game for NSW here (Oakes Oval) I scored a hundred against the Vics, so I certainly have some fond memories,” he said.
The match at Oakes Oval today will be preceded by junior coaching clinics from 9.30am to 11am and training for Under-15 and Under-17 representative squads.
Former Queensland and Austral-an Test batsman Greg Ritchie stole the show at an ACA / LDCA function at the Lismore Workers Club last night with anecdotes from his playing career and life as his alter ego, Mahatma Cote.
The ACA Masters team is:
Andy Bichel, Rodney Hogg, Greg Campbell, Greg Blewett, Michael Bevan, Phil Emery, Greg Matthews, Greg Ritchie, Len Pascoe, Wayne Holdsworth, Corey Richards, Matthew Phelps.