(If you detest the game of cricket or don't know what it's about, don't give up, because the following isn't really about cricket. Well it is, but then it isn't really……Oh what the heck….you can work it out for yourself)
"Old age and treachery,
Always overcomes youth and skill"
This is a lesson I should have learned much earlier in life than I did. It should have dawned upon me when, as a member of a youthful Agricultural College cricket team, we played an "away" game at rural Lake Rowan, (population 42) in 1967.
There was no "lake" at Rowan that I can remember, for at the time there was drought. It was 100 degrees in the shade at 9 am, and the dead grass was crackling beneath our sandshoed feet.
Dead turf was just one of the "home ground advantages" for our opposition which comprised eleven tough weather-beaten wheat farmers who were having a day off from harvesting grain to have fun, and make sporting mincemeat out of us pampered wet-behind-the-ears students.
We knew who should win this match, for we were impeccably attired in newly laundered and pressed cricket "whites", compared to their tattered and stained "grays" which had seen twenty or more seasons in the sun.
Their captain was a middle aged mountain of a man whose prowess with a cricket bat had become legendary throughout the Murray and Goulburn Valleys in Northern Victoria.
His name was Mr Fob. There is a distinct possibility that this was not his real name, for in the bus on the way up there I overheard one of the boys expressing his opinion that the last part stood for "old bastard". He had automatically acquired the title "Mister" out of respect for both his seniority and size.
Mr Fob took care of all pre-match preparation including fine tuning his home ground advantage. All other cricket pitches in the competition were concrete strips covered with coir matting.
Lake Rowan's was made from compressed termite mound. Mr Fob graded it smooth, and swept it free of sheep and kangaroo droppings pre-match, by dragging an old steel tractor wheel up and down it behind his ancient farm truck.
When Mr Fob was batting, the effect of this slow pitch was that no matter how angrily and fast we bowled at him or tried to bounce his head off, the ball would lift very gently off the antbed at bludgeonable height. He would annoyingly either angle his crossbat and sky it back over his head down into the pile of pre World War 1 rusting farm machinery and barbed wire under the gum trees, or swat the docile projectile to the fence with an accompanying "go fetch it boy!"
Now I say "fence", but indeed there was no fence, nor any markings anywhere on the paddock to indicate where one might ever have been. The only fence was the one that existed in Mr Fob's head. When he had determined that "the ball had gone to the fence" for four runs, he would indicate thus to the official scorer, who coincidentally happened to be his son.
The distance between the batter and the "fence" seemed to significantly increase in the afternoon when it was our turn to bat.
Probably something to do with expansion of the earth's surface caused by increasing ambient temperature.
We were inevitably thrashed by a huge margin at the hands of a better cricket team, which also had more than a little help from the treachery of old age.
Mr Fob's enviable reputation and notoriety lived on.