It was the sort of comeback that can bring a tear to the eye of an old cricket buff.
Forty three year-old Trevor Anderson, defying his aching limbs, in a meritorious effort of stamina and discipline, bowled Rovers-United to victory yesterday.
‘Ando’ and his pace-bowling cohort Simon Godfrey were the architects of a stunning turn-around which saw Greta lose 6/14 in 13.4 overs of high drama.
I didn’t give them a chance.
After all, when you’re defending just 77 and the opposition needs a measly 19 runs with 6 wickets in hand, you’re up against it.
But before I rave on too much, I’d like to set the scene for this extraordinary passage of play.
‘Ando’ is no stranger to the W.J.Findlay Oval. The nephew of one of the greats of North-East cricket, Trevor Donovan, he came through the junior grades with United. And when the newly-merged Rovers-United took the field in 1989/90, he was there, listed as player number 1 of the 150-odd who have worn the Navy,Red and Gold in the club’s 25-year history.
He took 3/23 in the 2001/02 premiership win and had played a significant part in reaching that Grand Final by running through Corowa in the semi, with figures of 5/22.
So,the boy could bowl.
After a brief spell at Bruck he presumably hung up his boots, but answered the call when Rovers-United were short of numbers in C-grade in 2010.
He’s been there for the best part of five years and, thoroughly enjoying it, intended to play out what remains of his career in those hardly-stressful environs.
But a mini-crisis occurred a fortnight ago when the A-Grade side lost two players on the eve of the game. ‘Ando’ and his team-mate/work-mate Brad Miller were called up. It was ‘Goochy’s senior debut, ‘Ando’s’ first senior game with the Combine for 12 years.
I watched him mark out his 20-metre run-up, take the new ball and prepare for action. Nothing had changed. He had that customary stutter at the commencement of his charge to the wicket, gathered a full head of steam and dropped straight onto a good length.
He still has that prized asset for a left-armer, of being able to swing the ball away from the right-hander and it causes plenty of headaches when able to be delivered with some control.
Trouble is, he’s always been on the end of bad luck. If there’s a catch to be dropped, it’s often at his expense.
He had a couple of chances grassed last week, but, after 30 overs he and his fellow toilers had done well to curtail Greta to 4/59, as they crawled to what appeared to be a certain victory.
Within two overs of the re-commencement of play yesterday, ‘Ando’ had removed the dangerous Chris O’Connor – 5/60 . Two runs later he enticed a nick from Matt Gathercole – the pressure was mounting. It was 7/66 when he accepted a return catch from Ryan Bromilow – the pendulum had swung in the home side’s direction. And even more so when Godfrey bowled top-scorer Lochie Hadden with no addition.
The final two wickets fell on 73. Fittingly, when Tom Williams dived sideways to snare Ossie Ramage, ‘Ando’ was embraced from all quarters by ecstatic fielders. He was suitably chuffed.
The reliable Godfrey had sent down 15 overs and was rewarded with 4/19. His veteran partner-in-crime boasted stats that he would probably have only imagined in his wildest dreams – 17.4 overs, 7 maidens, 5/29.
‘Ando’ settled down to deliberate on what had unfolded, as he pensively dragged on a few ‘gaspers’. In times gone by it would have heralded a ‘night on the tear’, but those days are well behind him.
He watched as Rovers-United started their second innings slowly, but built momentum to finish the day at 4/153. Encouragingly , youngsters Josh Schonafinger (51) and Luke Whitten (50) scored their maiden WDCA half-centuries, to top off what had been a super day for the Hawks.