L-R Paul McDonald, Peter Judd, Lee Hardham, Mike Riley, Trevor Sing, Chris Carr, Peter Kemp, Tony Balcombe, Trevor Saker, Peter Le Lievre, Mike Goldsmith.
Four SAVCA players were nominated to attend the 2021 O60 national team trials in Bowral in December. Of those four, Greg Quinn and Tim Pellen (both of whom have been in the national O60 team) had to drop out for personal reasons (strike one.) That left Peter Judd and Mike Riley to represent South Australia. With only two from SA attending, Mike decided to join Juddy and make it a road trip instead of flying to Sydney, eliminating another potential Covid risk.
The Covid pandemic seemed to be subsiding, and there was hope that players from all states could/would attend, but about a week before the trials a new variant (omicron) of the virus emerged, throwing us back into uncertainty with potential border closures (strike two.) That made the long road trip more logical than flying by avoiding higher risk exposure sites, like airports.
The weather in Bowral had been rainy for several weeks prior to the planned trip, and was looking gloomy for the two days of matches. Seemed like strike three.
The Saturday prior to departure (Dec 5), Juddy fell on his left shoulder taking a catch in an Adelaide Turf match, fracturing several ribs. Much more like strike three! Mike questioned Juddy several times about whether he should/would go, but he insisted every time that he would be going. He didn’t get to bed until around 2:30 am Sunday morning, 3 ½ hours before the scheduled departure time. Thinking Juddy would have to pull out, Mike drove to his place fully prepared to drive to Bowral alone. The third withdrawal from the trials would be completely understandable, but the fourth would have unfair on the organizers and other players who attended. However, the struggling Juddy still insisted on going, and after bundling all the gear into his car, they hit the road just after 6 am. Strike three averted.
It’s a long trip from Adelaide to Bowral, and even harder if you can’t move easily, or cough, or laugh, or get into/out of the car without pain. A real trooper, although there is some question about his sanity …
Some 14 hours later they arrived and had a chance to meet up with many of the other players, mostly from Victoria, NSW, ACT and (surprisingly) one from Queensland. No-one from Tassie, or WA, understandably.
Day one of the trials. Before the game Juddy and Mike went to Mittagong Oval for a Covid test, as required by SA Health for crossing back into SA on Wednesday. Juddy and Mike were then teamed up with our Victorian compadres, and we played our first game on the picturesque Bradman Oval in Bowral. The pitch was pretty patchy, showing signs of overuse, and weeks of wet weather. Batting first the “south” team put on 142, with Carr scoring 29 and Le Lievre and Balcombe scoring 27 each. Juddy grunted his way painfully through three runs, before finally heeding the suggestion that he retire hurt. Mike went in during the last over, but ended up 0*. The pick of their bowlers was Patterson, who took 3/19 of 7 overs. In reply the opposition fought their way to 143 (in the last over) with Eric Higgins from NSW making his 40* comfortably before retiring. Price made a patchy 27 before being bowled, and their wicketkeeper, Bradburn, making a rapid 32 or so. Mike conceding 36 off 6 overs, showing an obvious case of nerves, and Juddy was unable to bowl. Not a great SA showing on day one.
Day two of the trials. South played the same team the following day, but on Chater Oval, in another picturesque, but more rural, setting. (The decision that all teams could play on Bradman Oval meant that each team only played one other team for both games. Thus we didn’t get to see either of the other two teams.) South batted first again, but could only manage 106, with Peter McDonald featuring, with 35, and only three other scores over 10. Wasantha Herriatha for north starred with 10 overs, 4 maidens, 3/9. In reply north opened strongly, with Higgins getting to 30 before being bowled. There wasn’t a lot of support from his teammates, with the only other northerner to reach double figures was Patterson, with 21. Having dispensed with the nerves (as it seemed any chance of selection would have evaporated the previous day), Mike bowled 10 overs, 7 maidens and took 3/4. North could only manage 72 runs, and were bundled out in the 45th over. Juddy fielded for most of that innings, but was unable to bat or bowl. An improved SA showing.
The long drive back on Wednesday started early again, but was uneventful. The mandatory Covid test was taken in Tailem Bend, and we arrived safely in the early evening. (Both tested negative.)
A postscript to the story: Juddy went back to the hospital in the next day or two, and found that he had a total of four cracked ribs, and possibly a couple of hairline cracks!