by Pam Bishop
Our second ACS lunchtime Zoom session on Friday 25th September featured special guest, Craig Dodson. The humble, self-effacing, Craig now describes himself as a 41-year-old balding cricketer well past his prime; a former first grade player who was “a boring and methodic off-spinner”, handy enough but no world beater. He preferred to field at fine leg, a position not too demanding and one where he’d missed too many catching opportunities over time. Whilst not sounding all that impressive, Craig has achieved something that other cricketers simply can’t match. He played for eleven different cricket teams, in five Australian states in a single season, the basis for his newly-released book, ‘A View of Australia From Fine Leg’, at the same time raising close to $10,000 for charity.
Craig’s lifelong passion for cricket was sidelined when battling with depression in his 30s. Having not played for 12 years, the desire to don the whites and take to the field was again enlivened during the second Test of the 2019 Ashes Series when the idea for a writing project came to him. Not surprisingly, he realised that the project could also enable him to raise funds for mental health support hence a link to Gotcha4Life.org, an organisation that provides educational workshops and training programs for young people.
Each of the eleven cricket clubs were chosen either through personal connections or because there were interesting stories attached. Members were always friendly and welcoming, as well as interested and supportive of his fundraising cause.
With little more preparation than hitting a few balls delivered by his 6 year old son, we heard of the torn quad suffered in his very first game at Pomborneit (Vic.) when the temperature was 8 degrees. Then there was the golden duck scored on his 1600 kilometre one day round trip to Adelaide, the closest he has ever felt to Bradman, being clapped onto the field and off the field!
But there were plenty of positives. He excelled in Brisbane where he replaced an injured Jimmy Maher, to score runs and take wickets! When approached for assistance with promotion and fundraising, international cricketers such as Greg Chappell, Ian Healy, Damian Martyn and Darren Lehman (who wrote the forward to Craig’s book), “… couldn’t help quick enough!”
As “one guy with a good idea”, Craig gained many insights and the admiration of all he met on his Australia-wide adventure, much of it spent at fine leg. His book is well worth reading and his cause well worth supporting.