Scanning The Roar’s cricket comments is a riveting pastime. A symposium of passion, some points are well made, some less so. Some posts push the barrow of certain players, often curiously.
Man-crushes are as prevalent as vendettas. The spirit of Voltaire looms in such forums because we understand that all contributors care deeply about the gentleman’s game. I may not agree with everything Geoff Lemon has to say, but I scramble to his insights.
The gold standard of a cricket lover is the advancement of inane statistics. “He’s the first Namibian-born mollydooker to take a wicket with the first ball of his third over”.
But I’d suggest you’re also a cricket geek if you’ve ever played the following game, which I bet you have. It’s the one where you and your cricket-loving mates try to recall dependable Sheffield Shield players of a bygone era.
And it’s an important game, because these men deserve to be remembered.
As the Prime Minister oddly revived imperial honours, Cricinfo writer Jarrod Kimber joked on the Twittersphere that we should anoint Graeme Vimpani and John Davison. My immediate reaction was a familiar one – “Graeme Vimpani! I remember that bloke!”
And then it starts. “What about Joe Scuderi?!” Try closing those floodgates. New South Welshman, without fail, bring up Richard Chee-Quee and Greg Mail.
We know of David Saker, England bowling coach, as the “former Victorian and Tasmanian quick”.
The correlation between our national performance and our domestic standards is plain to see. During our golden era, players with consecutive 1,000 run seasons could barely get a look-in.
In recent years, the standard of both has tapered off. We are products of our environment, and our domestiques are Australian cricket’s ultimate conservationists.
As Aussie cricket fans, we boasted about the strength of our first-class competition. We rightly proclaimed that if Jamie Siddons was a Kiwi, or a Pom, he would have played a mountain of Test cricket, and done so successfully.
The Sheffield Shield final was always about the Michael Hogans, Jason Behrendorffs and Peter Nevills of this world.
Notwithstanding the contributions of Steve Smith, Moises Henriques and Josh Hazelwood, the sacred arena of international cricket will contribute faithfully to their highlights reel. For the rest, this was their summit.
For all the talk about its adverse impact on technique and long-form standards, I bow to the Big Bash for re-connecting us with non-internationals. The likes of Ben Dunk, Chris Lynn and Cameron Gannon are gaining unprecedented eminence in the Australian cricketing scene. And rightly so.
Even plodding Sheffield Shield players are much better than we could ever dream of being. There’s a reason they are on one side of the fence and us on the other. So take a moment to acknowledge their contribution to the very fabric of our cricketing being.
Honorary descendants of Lord Sheffield: Laurie Harper, Dene Hills, Mark Lavender et al. We remember you. We honour you. We thank you.
You may now arise, Sir Dirk Tazelaar.