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March 6, 2013

A ripping yarn

Michel van Oorschot
Lou Vincent knows how Michel felt ... sort of  © Getty Images
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Bowled by a 12-year-old girl.

Three consecutive golden ducks.

Four dropped catches in a match.

I am no stranger to cricketing humiliation. Many's the time I thought I had hit my cricketing nadir. Believe me, the above were all pretty awful and perhaps I will tell you about them some day.

But not today.

Because, incredible as it may seem, I have managed worse. This really was the lowest point of my adventures in the bowels of club cricket (read on to see how apt this metaphor is). The day, as is the case with all days, started full of promise; a blank canvas aching to be filled with bludgeoned runs and mesmeric wickets. Of course, my canvasses tend to resemble a two-year-old's scribblings compared to - say - Sachin Tendulkar's Mona Lisa. Nevertheless we all play cricket because we hope that a dramatic turn in form is just around the corner and today was no different.

Now, friends and family of mine might tell you that I went through a phase in my mid-twenties where I carried a little extra weight. Okay, the real truth is they will tell you that in my mid-twenties I practically weighed in the mid-twenties (stone). Being a student at the time, cash was in short supply and I had no choice but to squeeze into whites that I had acquired at a slightly more svelte stage of my life.

We won the toss and captain Moone, in his infinite wisdom, decided to field first. I hold a deep-rooted belief that my captains always field first on blazing hot days just to spite me. The fact that with me in your bowling armoury no score is defendable does not come into the equation.

"Going out to bat was quite possibly even worse. The wicketkeeper hummed 'Waltzing Matilda' every time I crossed for a run. The slips complained that the glare from my boxers was affecting their ability to see the ball"

"Michel - fine leg." If you think I was fielding there because I was opening the bowling you are wrong. It was an exercise in misfield damage control, pure and simple. Sadly, captain Moone had forgotten that opening bowler (and my brother) René suffers from the same acute leg-side longhop affliction that I do. So it was no surprise that two balls in I was forced to stretch and dive collapse like a hippo to prevent a boundary. Which I then, naturally, completely failed to prevent. This however did not top my list of concerns, what really had me worried was the loud tearing sound that rent the air as I performed the world's least-graceful swan dive. I carried out that impossible neck pirouette we have all tried at some stage of our lives when trying to catch a glimpse of our rear nether regions and my worst fears were confirmed: My silken, Aussie-flag (don't ask) boxers were there for the whole world to see.

This would have been a containable situation had I been allowed to hide out at fine leg with not a soul in sight. Sadly this was the one day of the year that a couple of young ladies decided to show up and cheer us on (you know who you are). Those muffled giggles emanating from the bench just behind fine leg still haunt my dreams. My team-mates were no less forgiving:

"Bummer, dude."

"That's a pain in the ass."

Captain Moone, sensing that where talent failed comedic value might succeed, threw me the ball. This only made the situation worse of course. By the end of my first over the hole in the ozone layer had nothing on what was left of my trousers. It swiftly became clear that the batsmen were capable of launching my offerings into orbit even whilst collapsing in heaps of laughter and I was given the infamous "breather".

Going out to bat was quite possibly even worse. The wicketkeeper hummed "Waltzing Matilda" every time I crossed for a run. The slips complained that the glare from my boxers was affecting their ability to see the ball. After an unsurprisingly ineffective innings, I "holed out" to the not-so-deep.

As I trudged of disconsolately the two Australians on the opposition team came over and saluted their flag.

A fitting end to a not-so-fitting day.

Michel van Oorschot has played club cricket in Oman, Holland, Scotland and Ireland. he tweets here

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Keywords: Offbeat

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michel van Oorschot
Michel van Oorschot is 6'5" tall, broad-shouldered and blessed with a posterior you could park a bus on - all the ingredients for a long-standing international career as a fast bowler, bar one, courtesy a cruel twist of fate: a chronic lack of talent. Ever cunning, he has played club cricket in Oman, Holland, Scotland and - most recently - with Malahide CC in Ireland in an attempt to identify pockets of cricketing weakness where his unique blend of long hops and half volleys can flourish. The search continues. @MichelvOo

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