Few can ignite a cricket match with his astonishing clean hitting like the ACS’s own Peter Robertson.
It may not be technically correct and it doesn’t always come off, but when it does, cricket watching is fun.
‘Robbo’ is reconnecting full time with the Australian Cricket Society this summer after playing several seasons establishing an Over 60s team at Research.
He loves the game of cricket and says the opportunity to play keen senior competition with Veterans Cricket Victoria is extending his career.
A regular with the Australian Cricket Society’s Wandering XI (and Over 60s) for the last 15 years, Robbo was a part of Victoria’s back-to-back titles at national championship level in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
‘The friends you make along the way is one of the best parts about it, too,’ he says. ‘I love veteran’s cricket. It’s fantastic.’
Robbo is captaining the Vic thirds in the national championships due to be played on the Sunshine Coast from September later this year.
His first Over 60s final was an all-Victorian affair, Vic 1 versus Vic 2. Peter, playing in Vic 1, had a major part in the win, scoring 16 as a pinch-hitter and taking four for 23. ‘We won by just two runs,’ he said. ‘It’s always a good feeling representing your state.’
Also part of that Vic 1’s side was ACS long-time member Phil O’Meara.
The second final was against New South Wales in which he contributed with both bat and closed down the opposition with the ball to again be a frontline contributor.
Robbo says Queensland has traditionally been the toughest state to play against.
He was 17 years old when he started at first XI level at Banyule CC. ‘We were on malthoid (pitches),’ he said.
An aggressive opening batsman with a liking for hitting 6s even in the first over of a match, he also bowled tight off-spin and was part of three consecutive ‘A’ grade Heidleberg CA premierships.
‘Any Grand Final you win is a good one, but my favourite was probably the first one. We were behind in the game and managed to come back and win it outright.’
His journeys took him to Queanbeyan in Canberra and for a time, Northcote.
‘I also played in the YCW comp on Sundays,’ he said. ‘A lot of district and sub-district cricketers were involved. One of them was the Brownlow Medallist Peter Bedford who would play for Victoria in cricket and for South Melbourne and Carlton in the old VFL.’
The two fastest bowlers Robbo faced throughout his career were Rodney Hogg, after he’d retired from major cricket and Mick Lewis who also represented Australia.
‘I was playing over 40s and hit Hoggie for a four. The next ball went by my nose. There were no helmets back then. He followed through to about the batting crease and said: “Don’t do that again.” He was just rolling his arm over, bowling military medium… until that four. I’ve never faced a quicker follow-up delivery.
‘But fast bowlers never really concerned me. I always believed the faster they bowled the quicker it would come off the bat.’
Robbo’s tilt at Premier League (then District cricket) with Northcote was brief.
‘It didn’t work out as they said we play with a straight bat here Peter, and that wasn’t my go.’
He says his natural liking to be aggressive comes from his off-seasons spent playing baseball. ‘It rejuvenated my cricket career,’ he said
‘To any young cricketers I’d advise anyone to play some baseball, too, if they can.’
His stats are impressive and include a Milburn-like 237, all before tea! He also made 150 not out in a grand final. ‘That season I also made a 187 and an 89 in the semi.’
Robertson was also a very handy bowler, starting as a leg spinner before transitioning to off spin. ‘At A Grade level I have a I got a hat-trick and an eight-for (12),’ he said.
The hat-trick sequence had his first delivery caught at slip, the second caught by the wicketkeeper and the third plumb lbw. ‘The umpire had his finger up before I turned around to appeal, so that was very exciting,’ Robertson said.
His priority as an all-rounder is always to try and score more runs than he conceded while bowling.
Now 65, he has his sights set on playing on and on – including Over 70s level.
The ACS is rapt to have him back. – DONAL WILSON