#2: ROBERT MORGAN – 5/38 & 6/73 vs Craigieburn

1sts XI, Semi Final. 1992/93

This is our first finals campaign in the top flight. We are a very young team being captained/coached by Marty Rainford. Marty has now been in charge for a few years and has given the young group the direction it so desperately needed. He is tough, but fair. He enjoys the shenanigans of the young group but knows when to draw the line. Throughout his time at Lakes, Marty maintains, “There must be something in the water up here,” as he is continually amazed by the antics of guys like IceMan, Cambo, Mad Dog, Hysy, Budgie & co. One of my favourite incidents was where I was standing in the car park at Lakes before training having a chat with Marty. IceMan in his white Falcon flies into the car park, underestimates how fast he is going, slams on the brakes, tyres screeching, he slams his two front tyres into the concrete curb right next to Marty & I. He then hops out of his car as if nothing has happened. Big grin on his face. Looks at Marty & I and says, “Boys.” Marty just smiled back.

By 92/93, Marty is our coach, mentor & mate. He will go on to have a huge influence on many of our careers.

Under Marty we have been ordinary, but we are building. Talented all-rounder Andy Bennett has joined the club and most of the team is now entering its 4th season of senior cricket. But there is one change in the batting order that has a MASSIVE impact. Marty promotes himself to opening and plays the role aggressively. He has a solid season in 91/92, making over 300 runs @ 30, after averaging just 11 in 90/91. In 92/93, Marty has his best year yet – making over 400 runs averaging 34. The team is growing in confidence as Marty is leading the way. This coupled with solid seasons from Podge, Turtle, Mad Dog, Cambo, Andy Bennett, S Beever and M Baker, we make the finals in 92/93.

Playing at home to Craigieburn, we bowl first and dismiss Craigieburn for 186. Mad Dog is the star – 5/38. He has been in total control swinging the ball both ways. When Mad Dog is “ON”, he is a handful. In reply, we reach 51 without loss, but that’s as good as things get. We lose wicket after wicket and end up all out for 116 – we lose 10/65. A Lakers collapse of the highest order. We trail by 70 runs with 10 or so overs remaining today, and a full day tomorrow. It’s not looking good.

After his sterling display in the first innings, Mad Dog is given the new ball. If we can get 1 or 2 wickets tonight, we might be able to shake this game up a little. Andy Bennett starts the 2nd innings – First ball is skied to Mad Dog at deep fine leg. Out! Good start. Next over, Mad Dog starts with his customary ball off the side of the pitch. As per usual, he yells a couple of obscenities to himself as he storms back to the top of his run up. He soon finds his rhythm and is now dead-set unplayable. Mad Dog dismisses the other opener, and then the number 3 bat lasts a few balls until Mad Dog knocks his middle stump back. We are PUMPED!!! It’s the first time I’ve experienced the exhilaration of wickets tumbling in a big

game. What a rush! We are running around like headless chooks giving high fives to anyone we encounter. Cam “IceMan” Viola is on as a sub, and is up and about. He gives me a high 5 that nearly rips my shoulder out of its socket. Marty reels us in, “Come on boys, can you smell it? That’s victory.” Mad Dog is now back at the top of his run-up with Craigieburn 3/11. He is as focused as a human being can be, feverishly working on the ball with his preferred ball-shining aid – under-arm perspirant. He soon has the number 4 bat second-guessing himself after playing and missing 3-4 balls in a row. He is copping an absolute ear-ful from us. Next ball – BANG – BOWLED. It’s NUTS. Mad Dog has taken 3 wickets in 3 overs. Craigieburn are reeling at 4/11, effectively 4/81, with another over or 2 still to negotiate before stumps.

Gun bat McNeice is now at the crease. It’s his time to face the music. Lionheart has become a cauldron – no batsman wants to bat in this environment. A few balls later, Mad Dog has taken McNeice’s outside edge, it carries low and fast to 1st slip, for a moment 5/11 is on the cards, but unfortunately, the tough chance goes down. Craigieburn reach stumps 4 wickets down. What a final hour of cricket that was. I had no idea cricket could be like that. Unfortunately, Craigieburn effectively bat us out of the game on Day 3. Batting has suddenly become a whole lot easier. McNeice makes 95 and Craigieburn make 176. Mad Dog continues to bamboozle the opposition and ends up with 6/73. We have a quick dip at trying to chase 250 in 25 overs but after 15 overs, we realise we are wasting our time. Our season has come to an end.

Mad Dog has finished the game with figures of 11/111, and in the process, provided us with the most exhilarating 45 minutes of cricket imaginable.



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