Wicket ways

Andrew Mathieson
ST JOSEPHS cricket stalwart Barry McFarlane stands on the pavilion decking at his clubrooms, looks across the windswept oval and has one thought on his mind.
The curator is worried about the state of the ground on the eve of yet another predicted dry summer.
“If it gets really hot soon, the amount of water we have is going to make it difficult to maintain,” Barry ponders.
“I’ll have to leave the grass a bit longer, that’s all, but it’s still pretty rough.
“I watched (the players) the other night with the fielding drills and usually the ball rolls straight along the ground but it was bouncing toward them.
“I’d hate to see what it’s like in January.”
Barry hand-waters the centre square and practice wickets like it’s his own private patch, meticulously watching every drop.
Looking after the club’s oval, after all, is one of his greatest pleasures.
“Days like the other day in the sun, there’s nothing better than being out by yourself,” Barry says.
“I put the ear plugs in and listen to the radio, especially if the test cricket is on it.
“I want to do this as long as I can.”
Barry, 60, is a retired Centrelink manager.
He devotes free time to his beloved St Josephs – not that he hasn’t pitched in around the club in the past.
Secretary from 1969 until 1991 and two stints as president in the 1990s is part of his legacy at the club.
His 35-year-old son, Chris, has been treasurer over the past 15 years.
Wife Felicity, who, like Barry, is a life member, has provided afternoon tea on Saturdays.
Barry even holds the Geelong Cricket Association vice-presidency now and is a life member there, too.
But the love affair with the game began when Barry played schoolboy cricket at St Josephs College in 1954.
At just 10, he was already playing under-15s.
Barry helped launch St Josephs Cricket Club’s inaugural appearance in the GCA in 1964/1965.
Barry played a leading role in the club’s maiden first XI flag a decade later after also topping his team’s batting averages that season.
“I enjoyed the competition and loved playing at the highest level,” Barry admits.
“It was the biggest thrill ever to win my first flag and be involved in that game and to top score, when I made 74, and have a good involvement in it.
“But no matter what level, I just enjoyed playing cricket as long as I could.”
Barry played more than 150 first-grade games before captaining the seconds, then thirds and has played “somewhere in the vicinity” of 400 matches.
Barry’s last game – he promises – was two seasons ago in the fifths after he officially retired full-time in 2002.
“Last year they asked me at one stage to fill in and I just said ‘nah, my body is just not capable’,” he tells.
“It just used to take me a week to get over it.”
Now Barry is the team manager of the firsts, although he both laughs and marvels at the players’ preparation before each game.
“They get to the ground more than an hour before the start and go through the longest bloody warm-ups,” he smiles.
“It’s unbelievable, they’re doing all these stretches and run-throughs before they even touch a bat or ball.
“If I did that I wouldn’t be able to play.”