I love the game of cricket, but have never been much good at it. I used to play for my university, but only in third and fourth grade.
Watching the second test of the current Ashes series, I saw the Australian fast bowler, Jhye Richardson clock batsman Stuart Broad on the grille of his helmet and push that onto the right side of his jaw. As is usual now, they checked Broad for concussion and any other damage. He seemed fine, but will probably end up with a bruised chin.
This reminded me of an instance in my university cricket ‘career’. I had played a match on the weekend as an opening batsman for the fourth grade side and tried to do a hook shot against a short-pitched delivery. The ball skidded off the top edge of the bat and collected me with a glancing blow on the left cheekbone. It came up in quite a large bruise over the next few hours. At that part of the year, I was beginning my honours project in a Geology degree. Each honours student was given an area to map geologically, at the end of which would be produced a geological map and a thesis explaining the geology of that area, with particular emphasis on the aspects of the geology in which the student was most interested. This entails walking around the countryside looking at almost every rock outcrop in creeks, gullies, on hillsides, in road cuttings, and in railway cuttings. It is a very time-consuming process. My area was centred on Kimbriki and extended from around Mount George in the west to Burrell Creek in the east, just about 20 kilometres west of Taree on the New South Wales north coast.
Because the maps covered such a large area (about 100+ square kilometres), to gain access to the areas concerned we had to ask permission from the owners of the numerous dairy farms. As a consequence, we had to go from farm to farm to talk to the farmers. They were usually very accommodating, but some asked that if I found any gold to let them know. I told them if I did, I’d split it with them 50:50.
Burrell Creek is a small, loose assemblage of houses and farms, with a post office and general store, and one of the properties nearby was one of the last on my list as it was near the eastern edge of the area I was to map. I rolled up to the front door, knocked and when the door was opened by a bloke in his mid 40s, I introduced myself and gave him my spiel. He zeroed in on my bruise and asked how I got it. I explained that it was a cricket injury and he asked where I was staying. I told him I was staying in my father’s station wagon in the driveway of the recently abandoned Kimbriki school. He said that he worked in the council offices in Taree, and he could organise to get the electricity reconnected and a key to the school for me.
Later in the conversation, he told me he used to play cricket. I asked who he played for, and he told me mostly played for New South Wales, had a season with South Australia and played 8 test matches for Australia. He was Johnny Martin (1931-1992), a left-arm orthodox spin bowler and aggressive lower order left-handed batsman. Kimbriki school had fluorescent lighting, heating, and a couple of tables which made my honours project much easier than it would have been, had I tried to do everything either inside or on the bonnet of my father’s station wagon. It was a lucky bruise.