Rup-Minyip's Dan Clark came within inches of his maiden century in the Horsham Cricket Association at the weekend.
Chasing quick runs in the second last over of the day, Clark was cruelly run out on 99 against Noradjuha-Toolondo.
RICHARD CRABTREE spoke to Dan about how it all unfolded, and how he is feeling after a winter spent playing cricket in England.
First up, the 99 on the weekend, how was the innings?
I suppose it was probably not a bad time for me to come in after Iso (Brayden Ison, 83 runs) and Spud (Dan Schaper, 101) batted well to get us to where we were. I thought Iso couldn't have batted much better really.
We were about 5-160 when I came in and they had been in the field for 40 overs. Everyone did a good job to get us there and then obviously Spud put a bit of icing on the cake toward the end.
Were you feeling pretty free to play your shots coming in at that stage?
Probably not for the first 10 or 20 overs, but toward the back end a bit more. When Spud was hitting them everywhere it made it a fair bit easier. It took a fair bit of pressure off me, because he seemed to just be hitting them all out of the middle.
What happened in the end with the run out on 99? Was it a mix up?
Sort of. It was the second last over of the day, I had a fair idea what I was on, but at the time I was probably thinking more of the team. I had been in for a while and I thought if I didn't get that run, I would probably be stranded at the non-strikers for the last over.
That's what I was thinking at the time. It probably looks pretty bad now that I ran myself out on 99, but I wasn't really thinking about it too much to be honest. Obviously the day went pretty well, so it didn't matter too much in the end to not quite get over the line.
Nearly your first ton?
Yeah, it would've been.
Did you know you were on exactly 99?
I did actually. The ball before flicked my thigh pad and went down to fine leg. As soon as we started running, everyone on the sidelines started cheering. Then it got called as a leg bye, so I knew I was on 99.
It was pretty funny after I got run out. When I walked off everyone had their head down and felt pretty bad for putting the mozz on me.
It was just your second game back in the HCA this season after spending the winter playing cricket in England. What was that like?
It was really good. I definitely learnt a lot from their slow, seam bowling; that was the biggest challenge. You have to make your own pace on the ball and they set fields to make that difficult over there. There's probably a stark contrast from playing on green tops to coming back to a synthetic wicket.
It's very different coming back here. I played in the top order over there and then I batted at seven on the weekend. You probably couldn't get more polar opposite conditions.
How long were you over there for?
Three to four months. I was playing near Birmingham. It was some of the coldest days of cricket I could ever imagine.
I went through an agent and they organise it all for you and the club gets you over there with accommodation with the club.
I did a lot of coaching while i was over there, coaching three different teams during the week. I had a women's team, an under-15s team and an All-Stars program over there, which is like our Milo Cricket.
It puts it into perspective a little bit for those international guys that come over here to play. Seeing it from their point of view, going the other way, it can be pretty daunting at first.
It sort of reminded me that you've got to look after those guys coming over here and make sure they are enjoying their stay.
How did you fall in love with cricket as a junior?
I'm not really sure - I think it probably came from Gavin Young being our junior coach, he put a lot of time into us when we were younger.
I think the Rup-Minyip cricket club overall have been pretty good in terms of encouraging cricket and getting everyone to play. The volunteers at the time put in a lot of time they didn't have to to help us play cricket.
It's probably one of those things you don't realise as a junior, but can appreciate a bit more when you get older.
Definitely. That's probably what I saw going overseas, was just how much volunteers do. I had to prepare the wickets as well over there, and you could see all the work and time that goes into all the basic jobs that when you're just playing, you would never even think of.
Across your time in the Horsham Cricket Association, have you got any career highlights that stand out?
Probably the grand final win (2015-2016 season), when Hairy (Travis Hair) got the runs for us. That's the only one I can really think of.
I reckon I must have been 17 or 18 at the time.
Have you got a favourite teammate in the Rup-Minyip side this season?
Definitely Mark Mbofana.
He was back in Zimbawe over the off-season and he reckons he has scored a lot of double centuries over there.
But he's a class act. Very good value.
Least favourite bowler to face?
There's probably not one that stands out - other than Dan Schaper in the nets.
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