A lucky bruise

By December 19, 2021Education, Science

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.


  1. https://www.espncricinfo.com/player/johnny-martin-6509


  • Jim says:

    A genuinely interesting experience!! I am old enough to remember Johnny Martin’s first test against the West Indies in the 1960-61 summer. We were listening (no TV in those days) when he took the 3 wickets in 4 balls, the batsmen being Kanhai, Sobers and Worrell, a pretty handy lot to say the least. Johnny Martin was a left handed “Chinaman” bowler (probably politically incorrect these days) and a useful lower order batsman who would have thrived in the modern T20 hit and giggle. He could bowl unplayable balls, but in between there were some balls that test batsmen used to thrash to the boundary. He and Lindsay Kline, a similar type of bowler, were sort of interchangeable in that series, although Martin was the better batsman.
    As a bit of a cricket nut I played until I was almost 50. About four or five years ago this was driven home when I received a ‘phone call, for the second time in a few years, from Ian, a guy I used to get around with as a kid when we lived in Heathmont, an outer Melbourne suburb. The families had kept in contact after we migrated to Tasmania in the mid 1950s. As kids our parents used to play competition tennis and as far as Ian and I were concerned the place to disappear to (in the days when you could simply wander off for several hours and no-one worried as long as you were home by tea time) was the neighbouring cricket ground where we would happily watch the local team for the afternoon. Anyway on both occasions Ian was in Adelaide with the Victorian 70 and over team and the second time he was complaining that the 70 year old youngsters were too fast for him–on both occasions we all went out to dinner and chatted about old times. Ian must be pushing 80 by now and he is still playing.

    • admin says:

      Jeez; I’m impressed. The last time I played cricket was when I was in my mid 20s in Hobart. After that it was mostly squash.

  • Jim says:

    One of these days I will bore you with the details of how doing geology honours fortuitously led me to playing four games of district cricket for University in Hobart–I was out of my depth but it was fun.

  • Jim says:

    Geology and cricket
    Well you asked for it. As you may remember, at the time the geology honours programme at the University of Tasmania was way over the top—these days you would get a Masters degree for what we did. My schedule as outlined by Max started on January 1, 1965 and finished on January 31, 1966, i.e., 13 months. The programme included mapping quite a large area around Maydena (largely Permian), describing and doing statistics on the agnostids from Christmas Hills, and producing what was termed a reading thesis which in my case was the small matter of “Cambrian faunas of the world”. On top of that we were meant to do Science French and Science German, attend Sam Carey’s lectures on Geotectonics and do three or four exams, one of which was the most interesting exam I ever did—Max simply gave you a previously unseen short paper and you had four hours to write a review. In between I was playing football for Uni trying to win the premiership that we had lost by a point in the 1964 amateur league grand final—we improved and lost the 1965 grand final by 27 points. A bad night was had by all.
    Anyway, coming on to cricket—normally by early December I was back up at the farm near Smithton, and playing with the local team. However, I was still in Hobart for obvious reasons and one Saturday I was sitting having lunch in the college when my cousin came in and asked me would I like a game of cricket with University third grade. This went off OK, I took a couple of wickets and made a few runs, although the captain told me that whatever happens do not get hit on the pads with this umpire—he was right. The umpire was incompetent but totally impartial—almost everyone that got hit on the pads was given out—it certainly speeded up the game. Anyway, the following match they stuck me in second grade and I kept on making a few runs and finished up winning the B grade batting average (only about 27—we were not much good) largely due to an amazing game at what is now the Blundstone Oval, but in those days was simply the Clarence Cricket Ground, around which you could happily park your car. It was early February and my final mapping thesis was several days overdue, so on the Friday night I tried to finish it off and finished up working right through the night and driving straight to the ground just in time to start. My plan was very simple—our openers never lasted long, I was batting number three, so my idea was that we would win the toss, I would go out and play my shots, get out and go and have a kip in the car. Needless to say, we lost the toss and we fielded, but we had a good opening bowler and about 4.30 we started batting. Our openers did their usual thing, and I wandered out to bat pretty well asleep. As planned, I started playing shots and was dropped in the slips, in the gully, by the wicketkeeper, caught and bowled and by the end of the day I had reached 50 and been dropped eight times—their main bowler was not a happy man. By the following Saturday, my thesis was finished and I was bright eyed and bushy tailed—I was also clean bowled in the second over of the day.
    By the following season, the A grade had lost a couple of batsmen, so I guess I was the logical person to put in the team. I played the first four games, not very successfully, was picked for the fifth game, but decided that I would rather play with the locals—apart from anything else I had a holiday job with Utah Exploration looking for phosphate and all our work was in the north of the state. One of the good things about the four games was that Uni was captained by John Hampshire, a Yorkshireman who later played test cricket for England. John was a good bloke and watching a genuinely class batsman perform was a real eyeopener. John was in Tasmania as a coach with the Tasmanian Cricket Association. It was his first season in Tasmania and as a professional he had a bit of trouble with our somewhat more relaxed attitude, until he realised that we were actually flat out to win. He had a good sense of humour.

  • Jim says:

    Hi Arthur,

    Many thanks for the link. It is indeed a very good of work and most enjoyable–one gets a fit of the giggles while reading it.

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