by Kobe Jacobs, ACS Literary Scholar
Phillip Hyde has been able to rub shoulders with some of Victoria’s finest cricketers, having played ten first-class games for the mighty Vics in the mid-1980s.
Born and bred in Glen Waverley, his house was only a short walk away from Central Reserve, the ground where Victorian Premier Cricket Club Richmond is now located.
In the late 1960s, Waverley Cricket Club occupied this ground and this is where Hyde’s cricket journey began at the young age of nine.
Gradually progressing through each age group, by the time he reached 12 years old, Hyde was playing cricket for both the Waverley Cricket Club and for his school, Haileybury College.
Once graduating from school at age 18, Hyde’s introduction into senior cricket at Waverley slowly ramped up.
“I got to play in the Waverley second eleven which at that point was a Premier club,” Hyde recalls.
“And then I got a few games in the firsts but I was a wicket-keeper batsman so I was behind the guy who was the state wicketkeeper, Peter Sacristani.”
The now 64-year-old has played in three of the main four levels there is to cricket in this country. That being club level, district level and also state level.
Richmond Cricket Club was the side that Hyde represented at the district level, a club where he described winning a first-grade premiership as just incredible.
“We won a first-grade premiership after a long drought for Richmond back in
83 or84, I can’t quite remember,” Hyde recounts.
“We beat Carlton in that final and they were the hardest team in the competition with guys like Keith Stackpole, John Scholes, John Douglas and Dean Jones, they had the gun team.”
This wasn’t the only time the two teams met in the final game of the season, as two years prior Carlton knocked off Richmond in what Hyde described as a titanic match.
“They were the standard and were just very hard to beat.”
Whilst still at Richmond, Hyde would be called up for the Victorian state team in 1983 which was ultimately the pinnacle of his cricket career.
Many dream of the chance to represent their state playing cricket, and if it weren’t for dedication and perseverance, Hyde wouldn’t have broken into the squad.
Even he admits there were times when he didn’t think he could do it.
“I never expected to play for Victoria ever I never really aspired to play for Victoria because I didn’t think I would be good enough,” he said.
“It’s amazing what happens when you just keep turning up and you do your best and now and again you get a bit of luck.”
Hyde’s first game for Victoria was a memorable one, as he got to play against cricketers to whom he once looked up.
At age 25, his Sheffield Shield debut against Western Australia played at the MCG is a match he will never forget.
As the Victorian team were nearing the end of their training session on the Thursday night, Hyde took a quick look at the what was the old MCG scoreboard and was left stunned.
When glancing up at the Western Australian team list, he saw the names of Bruce Laird, Graham Wood, Kim Hughes, Rod Marsh, Dennis Lillee and Tom Hogan.
“And we (Victoria) had some good players, we had Hoggy (Rodney Hogg) and Graham Yallop, but there’s my name down at number seven in the keeper’s spot.
“I thought this is just a surreal moment, I never thought I would ever have my name on the same scoreboard as those guys, I’ll never forget that until the day that I die.”
Then came the time to hit the hallowed turf, where it was one of Hyde’s cricketing idols in Rod Marsh who gave him a nice welcome to the middle.
In his first stint as a Victoria batsman, Hyde was able to face both Terry Alderman and Tom Hogan, with the latter snicking him off to Rod Marsh after facing three deliveries. Caught Marsh, bowled Hogan.
Hyde’s first dismissal as a keeper was assisting in the wicket of Graeme Wood, who caught an edge off Simon Davis. Caught Hyde, bowled Davis.
His time on the Victorian side was more short than sweet, injuring his knee and not being able to crack back into the team.
The tear of some cartilage in his knee almost deterred Hyde from not wanting to play the game again, being so tied up with his working career.
Then working in the advertising sector, Hyde was offered a promotion which meant that he had to move to Sydney from Melbourne to further pursue his career, he accepted the role which all but put an end to his involvement in cricket.
This wasn’t to be the case however.
Hyde’s former club in Waverley had rang him up one day asking if he was keen for a hit again.
Hyde accepted and went on to play four games before re-gaining the interest to play again.
The next season following his return, Hyde was announced as captain/coach of Waverley.
This would see him continue to stay involved in coaching cricket until the age of 53, where Hyde would eventually coach his son’s cricket team.
Waverley’s efforts to lure Hyde back into both coaching and playing ultimately paved the way for his involvement in the game to continue, as he is still involved in the veteran’s cricket competition.
His business career has also just been as important as his time playing cricket, having served a stint as an accountant as well as starting up his own software company.
Hyde admits that cricket has always come second to his business ventures but implies that cricket has been a big part of his life.
Reflecting on his short stint with Victoria, Hyde mentioned how difficult it is to be a consistent professional sportsman.
Still participating in the over-60s format, Hyde’s appreciation for the history of the sport and his competitive nature are the two factors keeping him wanting to play.
“Cricket is a very romantic game and the older you get the stories get better.
“We talk more about what we used to do as opposed to what we do now or in the future.”
The storytelling aspect of the game is something Hyde very much enjoys and there is one that he will never forget which occurred last year.
It was a game between Hyde’s Australian Cricket Society and Canterbury in the veteran’s tournament that left him amazed whilst fielding at square leg.
“I remember a batsman who could hardly walk out to the crease,” Hyde recounts.
Quite puzzled, Hyde turned to the fielder standing next to him at square leg and asked what the issue was.
The fielder replied with the following.
“This guy had a stroke a year ago and he was stuffed, this cricket club (Canterbury) has been the reason why he has been able to get this far.”
Such a story has left Hyde truly amazed at how the game can impact others.
“That’s what this is all about,” Hyde said.
“The fact that cricket can now play a role like that, it just shows you what the game is capable of being to people.”
Australian Cricket Society’s literary scholar Kobe Jacobs is mentored by writer John Harms. His pieces are also published at www.footyalmanac.com.au .