Pacific’s Australian history
Mon 09 Sep 2019 
Club news item

The hundred by Aussie Michael Rae in his first game for the club on Saturday has triggered some fond memories (writes Oli Haill) of Pacific's rich Australian history. (But I'm also hoping Pete, Steve and others can help me fill in some gaps too, as I'm sure I've missed some Aussies out. Also any good anecdotes.)

Over the years, not surprisingly the've bagged loads of wickets and runs and the Pacific 'Wisden' records compiled by Steve Lay pay testament to their many excellent performances. But, aw look mate, it may come as a surprise to some, but they've all been bladdy lovely blokes too. Well, off the field anyway.

Why are these men from Down Under attracted to our club – perhaps it's cos we are named after an ocean that’s not too far from their homeland. I hope it's also becuase we've provided a nice place for them to play the national sport – I imagine it's a bit different from the cut-and-thrust sledgeathon down in Oz. 

Our first antipodean (that I know of) was Leon Yates, who made his d’boo, as they pronounce it, back in 1990. Wrist-spinner Leon scored 1645 runs in 79 innings and took 71 wickets at just over 15 runs apiece and at a strike rate of under 22. The Victorian was great in the field too, winning the inaugural Fielder of the Season award. Last time I checked, he’d opened an ice-cream parlour in Tasmania. 

Fielding has always been an area where Pacific could do with any extra help we can get and in our Aussies we have found a rich seam of talent, with Matt Ralph our fielder of the year twice, in 2000 and 2001, and then West Australian Pete Czabotar taking the title the year after that. Matt made a return with his tight seam bowling and some nifty reverse sweeps in 2016 for a couple of games, more than 12 years after his previous outing. Ice-cream's not his thing, instead he was promoting a range of isotonic drinks. Pete was a scientist and a hockey player, which you could tell by the way he played shots square of the wicket.

Part of this first Aussie contingent to play together was Tim Marshall, often dubbed the ‘burly Aussie all-rounder’ in the match reports of the time. The Melborne leg-spinning all-rounder is in the record books for once taking four wickets in six balls and he scored at least one century, as well as keeping wicket a few times and running a rich line in sarcastic sledging for the oppo (and team-mates sometimes too!).

Tim was the catalyst of Pacific's second phalanx of Aussies, which we recruited from employer, the Australian Embassy in London, aka Aussie House.

Three from the Aussie House production line were Kurt Rademaker, who daybooed in 2003 and was followed closely behind by Braden Grigg and Martin Cowling, neither of whom figure in the ‘Pacific Debuts’ in the official records but are both listed as having captained once and also both for holding several records. And I know they played a lot, cos I was there.

This was another golden period for Pacific’s Australians. Like most of the antipodeans who’ve played for us, they were highly competitive but enjoyed the more relaxed attitude to the amateur game in this hemisphere and post-game drinks. All three were good with bat and ball, and cemented their place in the team on the great France tour of 2004 with the London Hospital Griffins. 

Perhaps the best batsman of the trio was curly haired Melbourne lad Braden, who notched up a handful of centuries in his short time with us, and also bowled canny spin, where he holds the record for most overs bowled in an innings, three balls ahead of our current Tom Ireland’s 21 overs. 

Brisbaner Kurt may have looked a tough guy but was as nice as they come and had a full cricket bag of party tricks, like being able to release the ball halfway through his bowling action – although that was just brought out for intra-club games, unfortunately. He was a good bat too and notched up 1937 runs as well as his 80 wickets, including a hat-trick. 

Tasmanian Marty bowled some lethal boomerang-like swing and he played some great tunes in his car (including where I first heard the amazing electro sounds of Jean-Jacques Perrey) on the day he took a searing six wickets on the hottest day on record in the UK. 

Chris Atkin, who debuted 2006, was another who bowled a hooping ball and turned out to have one of the club’s most successful win rates as captain, with 13 wins from 19 games in charge. He's also on the 500 runs and 50 wickets list, and in the records for one of the best partnerships for the 5th and 7th wickets. 

Other short careers around this time were Ed Blake, who hit some monstrous sixes in his time, Nick Fuller who had a short career for Pacific but the Bill Murray lookalike won the Best Newcomer award in 2007 and was a thoroughly nice bloke. He is now living in Thame, Oxfordshire, where he coaches one of the local junior teams.

Darren Tempany’s name stands out in the records. He’s mentioned more than 40 times and the fact he scored 2252 in 66 innings is impressive (and looked unsurpassable until Ben Stockton overtook him in 60 games – but Tempany was also less of a grumpy fecker). He and Conrad Chandler once scored 34 off one over at London Fields, where you can imagine the disarray beyond the boundary as those sixes came flying. A big tall fella, Darren hit the ball harder than anyone I’ve ever seen and smashed a total of 110 sixes for Pacific in just three seasons – many of them will have skimmed just above head-height all the way to the boundary and you would never even think of putting your hand in the way.

He recorded the third-fastest 100 in the club’s history, off 51 balls, a record also held by fellow Aussie Sam Parkinson. Ultra-laidback Sam only ever played a few games for PCC so we only have an inkling of what he was like. 

In our current squad we have Paul Rajkumar, who was yet another Aussie to dazzle us and win Best Newcomer in his d’boo season. Like many of his compatriots, nice-guy Rajku becomes a different animal on the pitch, knocking over 'Pirate' Pete Croaker of North Midds in his first over for Pacific. 

Bolstered by his hundred on d-boo, newcomer Michael Rea still could win Best Newcomer – after all, it seems to be a tradition.