This winter season marks the 20th edition of the Nick Shand Memorial cricket series, a unique event on the sporting landscape.
All over the Shire the gladiators of the grass have been buffing up their boxes and polishing their pads in preparation for the game that turns young men into men, men into slightly younger men, and women, let’s just say they only have something to gain.
Every team has its own distinct preparation for the series. Last year’s champs the Byron Full-Tossers have been consulting their life coaches and workshopping the path of victory.
The hardy Left Bankers spend the off season relentlessly patrolling the perimeters of their backblock fiefdoms where only yowies go.
The Main Armers spend long evenings meditating on flickering candle flames in their geodesic dome houses.
The Suffolk Swingers meet behind the breakers at Broken Head to tickle the tummies of white pointers.
The Geckos libate crates of red wine and swap YouTube videos on how to hit the perfect coverdrive.
The invisible committee has apparently convened (although no footage exists), the entrails inspected (soy sausages), and the auguries declared good.
All that is required is for the bloody rain to stop. Lomath Oval is a quagmire and game one between the Left Bankers and the Full-Tossers was washed out without a ball bowled in anger, although initiates were on the scene and could still discern the drowning patch of clover flowers that follow Ed the witchdoctor’s runup or the wormhole in the fabric of reality where Snakebite Pete clipped his final boundary behind square leg.
This week the Suffolk Swingers are scheduled to meet the Main Armers and all are praying to their pantheons for sunshine. Either way the Shand Series is back and looking like it has the legs to last another 20 years.