Here Today, Gown Tomorrow: Celebrations but no Wedding Bells for Alumni Team
by Gord Fleming(84-88)
On August 12th, 2007, the 25th Annual Haliburton Scout Reserve Cricket Match was played. Few that participated in that first rain-soaked match in 1983 could have predicted that the two-team HSRCL (Haliburton Scout Reserve Cricket League—Ed) was here to stay. Back then, with nothing more than broken canoe paddles, sawed off broomsticks and a ball made of fragments of electrical tape, the two English guys on staff brought the grand game of the old world to an improvised sports field at HSR.
The now-defunct Lords and Loon Islanders were the Original Two in a league that started out mainly to provide older staff (Loon Islanders) a venue to wail on (wale on? Ed.) ITs (Lords) when it was decided that late-night lard and eyebrow shaving raids were sort of inappropriate.
Over time, equipment would be improved, players learned the actual rules and terminology, and the Original Two franchises were replaced by teams representing current and former staff respectively, resulting in the HSRCL as we know it today.
The 2007 edition would be the first match played under the new format of timed innings, replacing the stodgy old “all out” rotation that so badly slowed the pace of the sport. It offered players the incentive to swing for the fences and play a more aggressive running game, as runs were more important than staying alive.
“You need to try something new when fans and players alike are getting bored” said league spokesperson and MVP bowler Shaun Donald (98-06). “You shouldn’t have time to recite three Norse sagas in your head between ball contacts”. When asked which ones, he would only reveal that they were all works by Snorri Sturluson.
As players from both sides emerged to greet the day, they slowly allowed the little scratching thought at the back of their waking minds to take it over: today’s match was their most important of the year. It was also their only game of the year – a must-win, sudden-death, winner-take-all, hyphenated-superlative laced contest for all of the glory and legend that comes with a championship. They had worked so hard all season to get here.
Some may cynically point out that they played no actual cricket, but they certainly watched some baseball on TV and possibly chased the cat around now and then. One may even have taken some pointers from the pros at the 2007 World Cup.
“Yes, I picked up some excellent tips by listening to World Cup of Cricket updates on the radio sports briefings” said Alumni Skipper, Gordon Fleming.“Mostly, I learned that if we lost, my body might be found somewhere under mysterious circumstances – so I came here motivated to win.”
The alumni team and its die-hard supporters started their intensive pre-game preparation with a hearty meal that included at least 117 of the major food groups, carefully prepared by team chefs Warner and Beth in their awesome recreational mobile conveyance.
The players built their mental toughness with visits to a kybo in which a once vanilla-scented air freshener was hung by the neck until dead as a cruel warning to other air fresheners not to even bother trying.
The Alumni team then hit the field led by new staff ace John McVeigh, decked out in a beautiful wedding gown.
“It’s tradition to wear white on these occasions”, said McVeigh. “I really believe that one should respect traditions, even if some of us don’t really have the right to wear white. I’m not naming any names because what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse, you know? I have to honour that as well”.
So, with a dude in a dress and a new format, the 2007 HSR Cricket Championship was played to a small but enthusiastic crowd, as balls were hit, thrown and caught and people in white ran around the field. In the end, the Alumni team triumphed over Staff team by a margin of, oh, I don’t know…Let’s say…18.
“I think that was a key component in our victory” said Skipper Gord during the post-game wrap up. “Like every year, I told our team that the secret to winning is to score a little bit more runs and have the other team score a little bit less runs. I don’t know the exact statistics, but in my experience, the success rate of this approach is pretty high”.
Wise words from the Captain, ringing loud and true as he hoisted the HSRCL trophy for the third straight year.