CRICKET ASSAULT - The Coach’s Memoir - By Joshua Bean
The flights were booked – leaving for Adelaide the day before the first ball is bowled to give the squad a full day to get to know each other a little better. First things first: upon arrival collect the biggest “here we are” hire van to fit all the boys and their kits comfortably whilst taking in the views of Australia’s most basic city where it’s hard to find a good beer, decent bar or anywhere to park a massive long wheel, high top van. OK… maybe I’ve started off a little negatively about what was a memorable tour, but yes West End bitter is worse than Boags. But let me be clear; this is a story of defiance. Defiance against the city of Adelaide, and against the other Universities that did their best to mute us both on and off the field.
Day 1 Player familiarity day
After driving around looking for car parks for over an hour it was time to get our bags to the hotel, put on our best beach and yacht attire and head to Glenelg. It was well worth the 45-minute Ubers. Upon arrival it mirrored a poor man’s Santa Monica Boulevard. This was perfect for me as coach. Some went and loosened their limbs with some beach cricket, but the other more confident squad members elected to participate in the first of many coach’s meetings. I shared with each player the top secret dossier, titled – ‘Trust the Process’ – . All about the importance of the task ahead, what this means to their University and their state of Tasmania, which included a message from the Premier and of course, Tim Paine.
The get-to-know-each-other day was a success. I sat back a little and got a good idea of the persona of the group and what makes each individual tick (i.e. basically checking if anyone would be sent home and, if so, what it would be for). One squad member stood out on day one; Damien ‘Boomer’ Harvey from Wynyard, with any queries about his footwork answered as he tore up any available area to dance and, as much as this hurts me to say, had the hand of many a lovely lady lured in by his stunning choreography. From what I saw it was evident that the squad was here to win, and we would hit the ground running.
Above: Team photo (Absent: Paul McNamara)
Day 2: GAME DAY!
Match one – UTAS v UNI SA
Here we go! Game on. We arrived at the University of Adelaide’s grade cricket headquarters only to be waved away from the number one wicket – which looked superb – and shunted on to an adjoining oval. On first inspections the wicket is incredibly soft. Wet? But how…? There had been no rain the days before so we chalk it down to lazy grounds-keeping. Well at least this would make the toss easy, right? Bowl first and hope it dries out a little for when we chase down the total. After convincing the Captain that was the plan, it didn’t matter – we lost the toss. Oh well. “Boys, we’ve lost the toss. It’s going to be tricky early but, hey, they just all warmed up in their full kits, how hard could this be?!”
Uni SA Didn’t seem like they’d be much of a threat, but they gave our boys a cricket lesson. They adapted to the conditions perfectly and handed us a hiding. The match was flawed by bad individual decisions and lack of understanding of the capabilities of our own players in their chosen disciplines. Oh, and our Captain, Jack Di Venuto’s decision to learn how to bowl leg spin mid innings.
A dashing 32 (25) J Di Venuto and 23 (11) Liam McLaren scraped us to 106, leaving UNI SA to cruise to the total 2 down (Dominic Rawlings 1-16 off 4). During the match I kept a keen eye on the very high standard affair next door between Monash and UNI NSW……. the two teams we were set to play next. Oh dear…
UNI SA 2-106 d UTAS 105
Not a great start, but hey it’s done with now. It became pretty evident that night that there were issues; maybe we didn’t know each other that well, a Captain under pressure with dressing down from Richard Baines about not being handed the ball, was he a secret weapon? Anyway, first game, wet wicket, lost the toss – no biggie. Stick together and refocus for a massive double header tomorrow (one very nervous coach).
Above: Captain Jack Di Venuto and UniSport's Mathew Cheeseman
Day 3: Redemption?
Match 2 Monash UNI v UTAS
After our morning debriefing at Bang Bang café the equation was simple. We need to win our next two to stay in the big dance, tier 1 – what we came for. A nervous Coach... Worried… But never show your weakness. We arrive to our ground (the same park with heaps of ovals) and get chucked on the lesser No2 ground. And guess what… it’s wet. What do we need to do? Win the toss and bowl first…. toss lost.
Seriously. We’re batting first on another damp one. A Gutsy 68 by South Hobart’s Kayden Hine and absolutely nothing from the rest allowed us to scrape to 118, which proved to be clearly not enough as Monash arrogantly piled on 3 – 123, with plenty of loser banter across the way. We looked the best team in our full UTAS cricket reds, but we had become a laughing stock after two games. Senior Assistant, Paul McNamara’s, fruit, lollies and refreshments seemed wasted on us.
This is the point when things got real. The first of many phone calls I started to receive... The Mercury, “Is it true Uni are pulling you out early to save cost and their brand?”. But the most memorable was from UTAS Cricket Club’s President, Charles Rose, a key organiser of the trip. Charles, a Doctor also, had just come off emergency department night shift and his Fitbit stated that the most stressful event of the day was finding out the recent scorecard. I could hardly get a word in as he interrogated my processes and scrupulously analysed my team and their performances. When eventually allowed to speak I stood by the group and told Charles to TRUST THE PROCESS.
Next up, Uni NSW. They just chased down UNI SA’s total of 98 in 8 overs, one down with a bloke hitting sixes with a broken leg and not running (true story) and yes, against the team that beat us first. Interesting…… We had a bit of time before the next game so Richard Baines and I headed off to a restaurant where we were greeted by the owner manager who informed us that his place had the best food in Adelaide and talked about his love for Tassie. Two semi-raw chicken salads later and I was in the dunny. Seriously, Adelaide?
Match 3 UTAS v UNIVERSITY OF NSW
I arrive back to the ground as soon as my bowel muscles retracted, sending Chris Brown out to toss the coin... we win, we choose to bowl. Finally, we are on centre stage. A proper, dry(ish) ground with pace and, most importantly, a nice big stand for me to huddle up into the corner of. This could go one of two ways; was it to be Silverchair’s ‘Pure Massacre’ or Placebo’s ‘Pure Morning’? Well, what happens next will go down in Unisport National’s history. Given the hours had clicked over, it was a ‘pure afternoon’.
A pumped-up Dom Rawlings took the new ball and, with some tweaking to his field, he had a licence to attack and that’s exactly what he did, removing both openers and their number 5, to take 3 for 23. Mister Fix It Dan (WG) Whitmore took 2 for 7 off 4, UTAS’ s most frustrated quick – Richard Baines – snared 3 for 16 off 4 backing up his bullish off field demands to have the ball at any cost. But the killer blow was delivered by the infamous George “The Ripper” Cripps with 1 for 6 off 1, knocking their big dog off in single figures with a superb back-spinning seaming delivery which seemed to die on him. So... Wowee. All out for 96.
Great wicket that seemed to get quicker, no excuses for our lads surely. Perfect wicket. Experienced Premier Cricketers Kayden Hine 51no and Captain Jack Di Venuto 38 steered us home comfortably with five overs to spare! And weren’t we carrying on! But the real highlight had to be Will “All hands on” Deck who sub fielded for the opposition, especially his involvement in the mid over pep talks and our own wickets celebrations!... yep, he got smashed in the home truth meeting that night and took the yellow jacket.
Day 4: King of Second Tier
Match 4 UTAS V LATROBE UNI
Ok, we missed the top tier, but we had just destroyed UNI NSW’s campaign, and that was very satisfying. So, the message from me was to keep winning and keep enjoying our time away. UTAS batted first and posted a very competitive 6 -155. The standout was a brilliant 52 (25) from Chris Brown, along with cameos from Hine 22 (24) Greenwell 27 (32) Dan “WG” Whitmore 13 (11). The bowling was clinical Richard “give-me-the-ball” Baines took another 2, Deck, WG, “Boomer” Harvey 1. But the standout was Taj Bhonagiri who took 3 for 21 off his 4.
UTAS 6-155 d La TROBE UNI 112
GAME 5 UTAS v AUS college of physical education
Same day, same ground. We all piled into the bus and went on a beautiful tour around the beaches looking for a place to eat. No luck. we found a cafe that didn't do food. We ended up at a Maccas on the freeway tailing onto the end of long lines comprising of the other cricket lads. Message from coach was this: sugar free coke and no sundaes.
Lucky enough to stay at the same ground and having familiarised ourselves we batted first. Not agreat start as we lost three quick ones. Chris Brown and Liam Mclaren chimed in with 20’s but the saviour, once again, was the quietly spoken Taj Bhonagiri. His 35no at number 7 got us to a respectable 141. It’s fair to say that as a coach we left a bit in the shed with Taj, I thought he was a bowler! He must have been sitting there watching the first two games thinking, these guys are hopeless, I want my money back. Apologies to Taj. Ball in hands, job to be done, discipline and that’s what we got. Deck, Bhonagiri, Baines 1, and George “The Ripper” Cripps 2 wickets did the job containing them to 5 -123.
UTAS 141 d AUS College of physical education 5 – 123
3 from 3 was a great feeling.
GAME 6 UTAS v MONASH UNI
Last day of cricket and, just like it started, we had a game that allowed us to have a solid afternoon/night session. This was like a minor league final and it was very comforting to see Monash fall in a heap after missing the topflight finals. Were they worried about playing us? Yes. Did they pretend like they didn’t care? Yes. Did they say they weren’t playing their best team, but did? Yes…and yes, they had humiliated us in game 2.
We batted first again and it’s fair to say the boys went out and had fun. Chris Brown, again with 52 (26), was a pleasure to watch with his lap sweeping, cameos from Damien Harvey, Di Venuto and 32 from WG Whitmore, along with a capitulation from Monash allowed us to pile on 184. Enjoyable viewing. The bowling was even more impressive. Singles to Greenwell, and Luke “business class” D’Alessandro, Baines another 2, and three a piece to Deck and McLaren ensured a complete routing, Monash all out for 118.
UTAS 184 d MONASH 118
THE RAP UP
The tour was DONE!
Well done lads on destroying every team in our path after finding our feet in the two warm up matches. It was perceived initially as a bit of a fun trip but after the first two losses it was apparent that there was a lot of pride at stake (and an acute awareness that losing and being mediocre wasn’t much fun). When you put on the UTAS strip there are no excuses. I am certainly excited for next year (if I can hold my position). I absolutely loved the group of guys that toured and I’d like to push harder next year for greater success. If that means an extended squad, I’m happy with that. Every player played a part which was impressive:
- Richard Baines’ wicket haul was huge, Lance Armstrong like arrogance.
- Taj, sorry I didn’t know you were good. I know now.
- Will Deck, circuit respect.
- Damien Harvey – ultimate team player.
- Dom Rawlings – competitiiiiiivvvee.
- Kayden Hine - Tour pro
- Paul McNamara, thank you for your support. (sugarfee snakes next year please)
- And Bob Cotgrove, who almost didn’t pass the social requirement test to get on the flight, love your passion.
Bring on Perth.
This is your coach Josh BEAN signing off.