To say it had been an average season for the Haq boys (note I use the term boys) would not be inaccurate. Running into the Final series EVER at the Lyneham CC, I can’t remember back-to-back wins, I certainly can’t remember big epic wins of old. What I can remember however, is playing short a number of times, being asked to put in extra money because “we’re short again” and a couple of infamous no-shows (yeah you know who I am talking about! ). Previous dependable Haqers seemed more interested in “Field Hockey” – incidentally when I mentioned “Australia has a very good men’s field hockey team” to an American colleague he replied incredulously “Men play field hockey?) –but I digress.
So I think it fair to say that when Haq rocked up to that first semi-final against “Choke my F$$$ing dog” there was little expectation from all and sundry. In fact the usual Haq support crew made little effort to attend; such was the belief in this team. The team was a motely bunch whose ages spanned three decades as did their abilities. I don’t have the score card for that first semi so I will just give you a brief account from an alcohol tainted memory. I remember vividly being consulted by the captain (Michael Rooney) whether we should bat or bowl if we won the toss. I looked around at our players (devoid of any super stars) and wondered if this team were to bowl to itself who would win? After a number of quick calculations I realised that we were neither a batting nor bowling team, what we were was a pressure team. If we were to bat first and post any sort of score (please see “The night 28 was four too many”) than our sheer presence would be enough to get us through. I promptly told that Captain we should bat first.
The Captain promptly won the toss and myself and he went in to face the best of the Chokers (in hindsight – what an ironic name). It turns out their best was akin to that of the present governments “can do attitude”, and Roones and I began to pummel their attack to all ends, it was like watching a baby seal being clubbed to death and then being set alight. I believe 62 runs were scored in what was later described as “beautiful cricket”. As with most matches, I lose a bit of interest after I have batted so the rest of the pairs are somewhat of a blur, I do however remember a -12 (yes that’s a minus sign) pair. Nonetheless, Haq scraped together 102 runs (real shame about that negative pair!).
To most teams, 102 is probably not enough, especially considering the great start we had. Fast forward to the final pair of “My dogs choking”’s who need 34 to knock Haq into indoor cricket oblivion. To the average cricket observer this would seem a simple matter, especially after my first over (the first over of the pair) goes for ~ 17. But that observer would not have known the “Spirit” of “The Son of Haq”, somehow we pressure the pair to the point where they need two off the final ball to win. The man bowling: Big Matty, moves in, the future of Haq in his hands, and proceeds to bowl the unhittable delivery to an advancing “Happy”. Marcus, removes the imaginary bails and destiny is set: Haq will meet “I will not see you in a premiers shirt” in the Final.
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A week is a long time in cricket (although of course a week is actually the same length in time not matter how you measure it) and although we had won a momentous game against the “Chokers” our task this week would be much harder. “I will not see you in a premiers shirt” had given Haq a number of lessons in cricket in the games leading up to the final, so it was with this in mind a number of emails were circulated in the preamble to the final. Unfortunately, many of these emails had nothing to do with cricket, the main topics arising: “I Paid my noms!”, “Unsubscribe me”, “I am injured”, “does anyone know where my hockey skirt is”, “Please Unsubscribe me”, “Do we have a full team” – it appears after a decade of Haq – nothing had changed. It was with a heavy heart and low expectations I headed to the cricket center that night.
I of course got to the centre early, my old body needing time to acclimate to the new surroundings. The Devito’s (no relation to Danny) were there already, Nino checking the center couches for spare change. Marcus, presenting a happy demeanour before the match, would Haq crush this boys hopeful spirit? I am not sure who the next to arrive was, because I was at the bar, but as was the case in the semi –final, our sole tactic was to bat first and post a target (any target, even 28?).
The final’s team was the same as the Semi’s –this is a Haq rule!!. Fortunately, the only rule in Haq is “There are No Fuc##ing rules”, so after a bit of bitching (pure Haq) via the Haq Twittersphere (read as email) Deano (who will forever be referred to as Fester) replaced the Mighty Ahmed.
As I stood there I knew something special was brewing, sure that could have been the background smell of beer and BO, but I think it was the finality of the night. Win or loss, probably the latter, this would be the last final ever played at the NICC Lyneham.
Once again the captain (Roones) won the toss, and he and I went into bat. After the first over it is clear that “I will not see you in a premiers shirt” are a step up to the pie chokers. The radar consistently reads over 100, it looks like the Haq dream is over. But such is the Haq determination, the first pair post an acceptable 41, Roones scoring 28 (yeah I know – you do the fu$$ing Math). As a side note my liver makes a brief appearance in my throat, due to excessive running. Fester comes to my aid instructing that a quick beer will put it back in its rightful place.
The second pair (Kamal, aka “toe”, and Marcus, aka “Oriliuos”) enter the nets, a sceptic was heard to say “this could go either way” and proceed to bat like winning depends on it. Not a lot of highlights in this pair, although Toe runs out Orilious cold in his eagerness to win the MVP (which he subsequently does). Toe posts a game high score of 37, although Orilious played a number of classy cricket shots (7) – the pair construct a well made 44.
At this point my mind drifts off, after a quick addition I realise that 41+44 = 85, followed by a quick multiplication 2* 85 = 170, we are heading for an unbeatable lead. I look around at the remaining batsmen : Fester, Burto, Nino and Matt and wonder to myself “Which one of these Xu%ts is going to fu&&k this up?”.
The third pair Fester and Burto, represent two generations of Haq, one always injured the other always with excuses- this could go either way. What transpired in the first over will always stick in my mind, words really won’t do it justice, so let me just set the scene with Fester facing : 7, 1, 7, 2, 3, 1, 2, 2, 0 =24. Haq passes the hundred mark, print the victory shirts, write the tales of victory, minstrels prepare your epic songs… In the next three overs the pair manages a further 17, putting their total at 41, Fester with 27.
And so staring down a 160 plus total in go the final Haq pair (Big Matt and Nino). The hopes of hundreds of past and present Haqers weighing heavily on these final batsmen. I wish I could tell you they scored 40 odd (like every other pair), I wish I could tell you they batted well, I wish I could tell you there was NOT a mankad – WHAT a FU%%King MANKAD, what are we playing “I just got a FU%%ing Dog up me”. What sort of FUC^ing cheating bastards are we playing, I mean what sort of scum resorts to a mankad – he goeth by the name of “Cary”.
As the final Haq pair left the nets, followed by their meagre 13, words were exchanged. Now, I don’t want to get into the legitimacy of the mankad (although we all know it’s a low act), or indeed the unsavoury words that were uttered, but a wry smile crossed my old timers face. I knew the match was over, these “I will not see you in a premiers shirt” – had no stomach for a fight – they reminded me of Peter Costello.
And so it was that Haq entered the field to defend 139 valuable runs. To put it another way: each pair from “I will not see you in a premiers shirt” required on average 34.75 runs. Sure, not an impossible task, but in a final; against the might of Haq, by any metric Haq was ahead.
In strode the first pair of “I will not see you in a premiers shirt”, comprising a guy who should be in the front row for the Brumbies aka “Brick-Sh%t-house” and “ManCary”. They proceeded to pummel the best that Haq could put forth: Toe (0/14), followed by Runes (0/15) followed by Berto (0/11) and finished off by Fester (0/17), to accumulate 57 runs, or to put that into perspective 41% of Haqs runs combined. I am not going to say pies were bowled – because as we all know pies get wickets and NO wickets were GOT. I am not going to say that fielding let us down, because I only remember one chance going down (yes Nino dropped a regulation chance). What I am going to say (although it causes my sphincter to tighten) is that this pair batted very well, pretty well, well, ok, better than I expected.
And so the game stood at a precipice, the next three pairs only required 27.33 runs each to send Haq to cricketing hell. I looked around at the faces in the huddle and I asked myself “Do they believe?” I wish I could tell you those faces filled me with belief, but that would be a lie, the best I can say is that in between the bitching about the mankad and Nino wringing his “sore” hand, I felt a calm much like I had “The night 28 was four to many”.
The next pair entered the nets with a swagger that comes from being under 35. I stepped up to the bowling crease and proceeded to deliver pie after mesmerising pie – as predicted wickets fell (1/2 – actually “wicket”). But more importantly they showed their hand – they were going to bunt their way home!! The follow up over, by Big Matt, was the first big wicket haul (3/-6) followed
by Marcus (1/12) and finished of in style by Nino (0/15) – a total of 23 for this pair, were things turning Haqs way?
The third pair (the premiership pair) comprised “surfer boy” and “which end of the bat do I hold boy” or WEOTBDIHB for short. There was an air of confidence in the Haq men (note I use the term men) we had seen these guys bat before and knew we were into the arse end of “I will not see you in a premiers shirt”. The Captain of course immediately comes on trying desperately to end with a positive net. He proceeds to bowl some quick probing deliveries, but remarkably WEOTBDIHB manages to keep him out and the first over ends at (0/10). Next up is Nino, I look at Marcus and I know what he’s thinking “for Fu%k sake Dad hit the Fu%%king pitch”. Nino, as if by telepathy, strikes the pitch more than 50% of the time and returns the figures of (1/10). Matty and I then bowl the last two overs (1/4) and (2/-3) respectively, yielding a total of 1 run (or a factor of 20 times less runs than the first to overs combined).
And so it was that on that fateful night the final pair required 38 runs to win. As Haq huddled in the middle (for the last time ever) I think there was a strong belief that we had a good chance. This belief was even stronger when off the first ball the Devito’s (much like the Waugh’s) produced the following stat: Bowled Devito, caught Devito. Marcus went onto bowl a tight over (1/12). Toe then stepped up and although going for one seven, slowed the runs further (3/ 1). “I will not see you in a premiers shirt” now required 25 runs off the final two overs – on paper, very doable.
I kinda wish that the ending had been closer, that I could tell you that “I will not see you in a premiers shirt” put up a good fight, that “I will not see you in a premiers shirt” didn’t disgrace themselves to all and sundry, that “I will not see you in a premiers shirt” at the moment where men need to stand up – did not shirk away like the ManCarying dogs they are. But alas I can’t. When faced with the final bowlers Berto (4/-5) and Fester (2/1) their defeat was complete and Haq had their finest moment.
As Haq walked from the net I noted that mancary was despondent and had to be cajoled to shake hands. I wondered what would have happened if he had not chosen to go to the dark side. Was that the difference on this final night? I couldn’t help remembering the immortal words of one Haqer “Xu%T on the field, X&unt off the field”