Maher’s Musings - Individual brilliance

By Tyler Maher

Individual performances in a game of cricket do not come much better than Paul Wickham’s efforts at the weekend.

The Undera B-grade opener was no less than outstanding with bat and ball as his side defeated Old Students convincingly at Kialla Park Recreation Reserve.

Wickham slashed his way to the highest Cricket Shepparton B-grade score on My Cricket records with a huge knock of 194 — falling just one more lusty blow short of a rare double ton in the association.

Lions captain Glenn Campbell was in awe of Wickham’s innings — watching much of it from up the other end of the pitch.

‘‘It was moreso the clean hitting (which was most impressive),’’ Campbell said.

‘‘From the get-go he just went for it and there was nothing slogging about it, he was just playing good cricket shots.

‘‘As captain it was pretty good being up the other end and watching him do his thing, I felt a bit sorry for the bowlers at one stage because it was just all see ball, hit ball.’’

The 26 boundaries — including nine towering maximums — Wickham hit before being bowled garnered him a massive 122 runs, more than the Students managed for the entire contest.

But Wickham was certainly not done there.

After being thrown the ball late in the Students’ innings, Wickham proved unplayable with his medium-paced outswingers, taking three wickets for no runs in the space of 10 deliveries to help bowl the home side out for just 99.

‘‘He came over to me and said ‘I’m feeling good, come on give me a bowl, I’m on a roll’,’’ Campbell said.

‘‘So I did and he finished them off pretty quickly.’’

Wickham’s heroics had this columnist recalling some of the greatest individual efforts on the field, where the opposition could only sit back and watch history in the making.

Here are a few — in no particular order — that the team at Musings HQ came up with.

If you can think of a few more, make sure you send them in or leave them in the comments section of The News’ social media pages.

Kusal Perera

The freshest performance can kick this list off.

Perera’s epic — and unbeaten — 153 to give Sri Lanka a one-wicket win against South Africa last week was the stuff dreams are made of.

With a target of 304 in the fourth-innings chase, Sri Lanka had slumped to 3-53 before Perera came to the crease and worked his magic.

Not only did the number five nurse the tail superbly, he also took on arguably the best attack in the world and regularly lifted it over the boundary during the stellar knock.

When you add his 51 in the first innings, it was definitely a supreme individual Test match for Sri Lanka’s newest hero.

Tim Arnel

Another recent addition to the list of brilliant performances — and not on the same scale as Perera’s — but Arnel’s achievement was definitely impressive nonetheless.

The Numurkah speed demon tore Euroa to shreds in the second innings of an outright Blues victory last month, taking all 10 wickets to fall and finishing with 10-25.

It came after he had whacked 79 coming in at number eight in the first dig to set up the triumph, showcasing his destructive prowess with bat and ball in hand.

Rohan Larkin

Sticking with the Cricket Shepparton theme, it is Central Park-St Brendan’s legend Larkin who is the next cab off the rank.

Some might say it is hard to pick which of his plethora of standout individual performances is head-and-shoulders above the rest, but for this columnist it is easily the double hundred that started a dynasty.

The story has been told a thousand times before, but let’s set the scene again.

Aside from a breakthrough premiership at the turn of the century for the Tigers, the early 2000s belonged firmly to Karramomus.

But in the 2003-04 season a new Haisman Shield champion would be crowned after Central Park and Mooroopna had made the decider.

The Cats got the cream though, with Larkin only making three runs in his side’s score of 189.

He was never going to let that happen again in the rematch though.

Larkin took the 2004-05 grand final by the scruff of the neck — making an unbeaten 243 from 348 deliveries after coming to the crease at 1-2 — and secured the first of seven Haisman Shields in a row for the Tigers.

In fact, when asked about where Wickham’s innings stood in terms of Cricket Shepparton knocks across the journey, Campbell immediately brought up Larkin’s knock — which he saw first-hand from the field playing for Mooroopna.

Larkin’s mark stood as the highest A-grade total on My Cricket record for less than a season when teammate Sam Ahmet made 251 not out late in the side’s next campaign, but it was Larkin’s masterpiece that will stand as the first brush-stroke on the Central Park (Haisman Shield) dynasty canvas.

Marcus Stoinis

In just his second One-Day International, Marcus Stoinis almost pencilled his name in the annals of cricketing history with a solo defeat of New Zealand at Eden Park.

After taking 3-49 with the ball as the home side reached 9-286, Stoinis belted an unbeaten 146 from 117 deliveries to fall seven runs short of a ridiculous recovery job.

The Aussies had fallen to 5-54 by the time the ‘‘Oil Rig’’ muscled his way to the crease, but he was unfazed by the occasion.

Perhaps the most remarkable note about Stoinis’ knock was that his 54-run partnership for the final wicket — which only came to an end when Josh Hazlewood was run-out at the non-striker’s end — was solely the all-rounder’s doing, with the No.11 not facing a single delivery.

Nick Davis

This one is not cricket of course, but who could pass up another opportunity to watch Davis rip Geelong a new one in the final term of the 2005 semi-final.

Leo Barry may have been the hero, but Davis’ quartet of goals in the last quarter against the Cats was what kept Sydney’s season alive.

‘‘I see it, but I don’t believe it,’’ from Anthony Hudson as the go-ahead goal sailed through also stands the test of time as one of the most repeated pieces of AFL commentary in history.