Early in 1975 when my school principal dropped the bombshell, informing me I would be coaching the Year Six cricket team. It was back in the days when male teachers were expected to do their share on the sporting front, and the allocation of teams reflected your place in the pecking order. There weren’t too many things I’d have been more eager to avoid.
But Alec, I protested, I know nothing about coaching cricket.
Don’t worry, was the reply. You’ll learn.
I did. Within two years I was helping select the Townsville Primary Schools’ team, not because of any great expertise, more because when you’re trying to sort out around a hundred kids it’s a case of as many hands as possible on deck.
Never having had much of a chance on the field as a kid, I discovered a previously undetected competitive streak, and took great delight in enforcing the follow on against our school’s arch-rivals, a team that boasted at least half a dozen Townsville reps. That came on the back of a kid who’d bowled a fifteen ball over the year before, had just missed Townsville selection and took 7 for 40 bowling unchanged in the days before over limits.
Pressured into coaching a Junior Cricket club side on Saturdays, playing pub cricket on Sundays and indoor on Tuesday and Thursday nights you’d have probably described me as an obsessive fanatic, but it was a case of a bloke having a lot of largely beer-fuelled fun.
I don’t recall what prompted me to head to Cairns for the Primary Schools’ Carnival in 1982, but I enjoyed it to the point where I was a fixture at those carnivals for the next fourteen years. That was aided by the fact that I was transferred to Bowen in early ’84, and immediately handed the Whitsunday Zone Primary Schools side that year. A less than successful NQ trials in El Arish that year and the aforementioned competitiveness probably had something to do with that.
Along the way I’ve spent more than my share of time propping up a bar and debating various cricket-related topics at length. I don’t prop up too many bars these days, but the LHoC Sports Desk blog and associated ramblings cover the territory that I would be covering if I did.
You'll find Hughesy's prognostications on sporting matters on The Little House of Concrete Sports Desk Blogger site, though eventually I'll have that content mirrored hereabouts.