Many uncomplimentary barbs have been hurled in the direction of Ian Dinsdale during the course of his marathon, 48-year cricket innings.
‘Deano’ cops them all with good grace. Making runs has been his ‘go’ and it has never really fussed him to hear people scoff at his unorthodox batting style. He just puts his head down and tries harder.
It has stood him in good stead. Over the years, the best and fiercest bowlers in the area have attacked that resolute defence. He has treated them all with suspicion and met them with a broad bat which resembles a barn door. A back-lift, which is minimal to say the least, offers scant chance of the ball sneaking through.
To describe ‘Deano’s’ technique in any detail is difficult. Most strokes are of his own invention and fancy footwork is not part of his repertoire.
Folklore has it that he played a rash shot about 30 years ago and made a pact with himself that it wouldn’t happen again !
He is cricket’s great survivor……….
I suggested to him that kids in junior cricket must have regarded him as a pest. “Didn’t play”, he said, explaining that he grew up on a farm near the Three Chain Road and getting to junior matches was a trifle difficult.
Instead, he belted a ball against the back wall of the house, incessantly. And coaxed his father, Jim, to bowl over after over to him. ‘”Dad played with Lake, in the Rutherglen Association and I tagged along,” he says.
The inevitable happened ; they were short one day. 12 year-old ‘Deano’ came in at number 11 and held up an end for quite a while.
He liked the feel of it. A run-machine was born.
It’s a pity there’s not a calculator handy, as we start to tote up the number of games that this cricket nut has played. We arrive at a figure of over a thousand – and that’s being conservative.
He has held centre-stage on grounds all over the North-East, central Victoria, the metropolitan area and even overseas, utilising his trademark assets – concentration, determination and the eye of an eagle – to drive irritated bowlers to distraction.
The clubs of ‘Deano’s’ youth were Lake, Chiltern, West End (WSCA) and Tarrawingee.
He had already become the ‘face’ of Sunday Association team, Springhurst, and was in his early 20’s, when the WDCA relaxed eligibility rules, which allowed him to play in both competitions. He joined WDCA club Bruck and so began his irrevocable link with the two clubs.
Springhurst joined the Sunday comp in 1974. ‘Deano’ opened the batting and bowled plenty of overs. He could swing the ball both ways, which earned him plenty of wickets, even though he bowled at such a pedestrian pace that the top batsmen had plenty of time to check their shots.
His team batted around him and his early dismissal was a celebration for the opposition. He won 7 Chronicle Trophies. The last of them came in 2002/03, his 28th season with Springhurst and the final year of the WSCA.
It was Springhurst’s fourth successive appearance in a Grand Final and they were chasing a hat-trick of flags. The fact that they were defeated by Tarrawingee in a tight game was met with a shrug by ‘Deano’, who was playing his 418th – and final – game with his beloved home club.
He joined Bruck in 1979, along with his mate – and neighbor from a nearby farm – Russell Robbins. After a couple of years at the tail of the ladder there was considerable improvement and in 1983/84, Bruck took out their first WDCA flag in 21 years.
It was a trademark ‘Deano’ performance in the ‘big one’. Whorouly were dismissed for 165, a target which can sometimes prove tantalising in finals. Bruck lost three early wickets. Nerves set in…..
“…..A solid Ian Dinsdale-Russell Wood partnership set up the victory. Dinsdale batted cautiously and ensured the side consolidated. He made a valuable 50 before he was caught behind……..” was the ‘Chronicle’s’ summary of his innings. Bruck passed the Whorouly total for the loss of six wickets.
It was another 19 years before they tasted premiership success – in 2002/03. ‘Deano’ was the sole link with the bygone days, as a new group of players proceeded to lead the club to 5 flags in 11 years.
The WDCA selectors came to the realisation that this fellow – depicted as a painstaking, dour, overly-patient opening bat, who valued his wicket – had something to contribute at representative level. Additionally, he was the safest of safe slips fielders.
He became a regular member of the North-East Cup team and played in 4 winning title teams. His first trip to Melbourne Country Week was in 1984. Two years later, he enjoyed a dream week, with scores of 65, then 107 against Horsham. He followed this up with 81 the next day.
He had earned the respect of every cricket follower. Only 17 individual players have scored centuries since the WDCA started playing at Melbourne Country Week. Hundreds have tried.
It’s important to keep your wickets intact early in Melbourne, to pave the way for the lower order. ‘Deano’ proved ideal in this role in his 10 trips to the ‘big smoke’ ( 8 with the WDCA, 2 with the WSCA).
He was equally at home at Bendigo, where his performances over 20 Carnivals (9 WDCA , 11 WSCA) earned him induction to their Country Week Hall of Fame.
He was a stalwart of the Sunday competition in the ‘Golden City’, and in 2001 his scores of 86, 57, 80,63 and 73 were a significant reason for their title-win. An innings of 119 two years later, capped his final trip to Bendigo.
He has played in 10 Masters Festivals at Cobram-Barooga and twice headed to England as a member of the Australian Wattle Sprigs touring team.
Most of his old adversaries have long since ‘gone out to pasture’, but vividly recall the arduous task they faced in removing the bloke they once called ‘The Rock’.
Gary Lidgerwood, who played against him and was his representative captain, said bowlers would think they were on top of ‘Deano’, when he was in his vigilant mood.
“They would become agitated and try to bounce him out. Taking advantage of his baseball background, he would just lean back and square-cut and hook and escalate the run-rate. The quicker they bowled to him, the further he hit them.”
“The other thing that endeared him to us was that he always made himself available for selection. He has a passion for cricket.”
It’s a credit to him that, nudging 61, he’s still seeing the ball well enough to be a consistent run-getter in the WDCA’s B-Grade. He stepped down from the top level in the mid-2000’s and played his 400th game with Bruck towards the end of last season.
His 285 A-Grade games included four centuries – the first and last of them 22 years apart.
When the new entity – Rovers-United-Bruck – was formed this season, ‘Deano’ handled the transition with ease.
“I still love playing and practicing and enjoy the company of the young fellas”, he says.
So the ‘Rock’ continues to roll on. With his cricket career showing no signs of ending, and after 41 years of baseball with Tarrawingee, Saints and Rangers, he has found a new passion – Golf- which he plays a couple of times a week.
‘Deano’ has never had much of an eye for stats. I suggest to him that his total of games will never be matched in local cricket and that his tally of runs must be nudging 25 thousand.
“Got no idea”, he says.