It’s hard to go past numbers when choosing best batters – cricket is that kind of sport where good decisions, bad decisions and conditions even themselves out over a period of time. Having said that, there are however special batsmen who under circumstances that are unfavourable, weigh in and always give a good account and those occasions are rarely reflected in statistics.
Kahlin Oval remains an ideal playing and viewing venue – nothing is too far away and my mind stretches to four outstanding innings, all played at that place.
Only one player involved in those special memories made it to the top 12, but they all will nonetheless hold special places for me. Here they are: Clinton Hoffmann playing for Southern Districts scored his maiden first grade hundred against the most potent bowling attack in the competition and Marc Calkin, playing for Nightcliff got a big hundred in belligerent style also against Darwin. To even the ledger, the double hundreds scored by Darwin pair Luke Shelton and Patrick Pisel in the one innings against Palmerston was the first and remains the only one of its kind in the competition.
Other notables who also didn’t make the cut were Katherine (NT) born Matthew Sinclair who scored 214 for New Zealand against West Indies on test debut and fellow Kiwi, and future captain, Brendon McCullum who scored a double century for Palmerston.
Here is my batting team listed alphabetically:
- Nick Berry (PINT) is the only player to make my list in both bowling and batting categories. Always calm in a crisis, Berry was generally an accumulator of runs but could accelerate when the need arose. He is one of a few to score two double centuries in the competition. In 141 innings he scored 5976 runs @ 51.94 with 14x100 and 24x50.
- Craig Cachopa played a couple of seasons with Tracy Village and the New Zealand recruit immediately displayed above average class - it seemed every time I saw him bat he scored a century – which he probably did. Cachopa set about the bowling from day one and accumulated 1697 runs at 67.88 during his short Top End journey. Among the runs were 6x100 and 11x50.
- Greg Clarence (PINT) was another who graced the field for a relatively short period but his impact could not be ignored. Batting at three, he had the defence and attacking array that was almost impossible to curb. With a top score of 258 n.o., Clarence scored 2143 runs (7x100 and 9x50) at the wonderful average of 69.13.
- PINT top order batsman Simon Lavers seems to make hundreds or not many at all. His apparent cavalier approach to batting can be both frustrating and encouraging to teammates and fans alike, but over a long period, his accumulation of runs has given him the lofty status he richly deserves – Lavers may eventually become the official highest run scorer in competition history. Currently he sits on 8317 runs @ 42.43 from 210 innings which includes 17x100 and 45x50 – not bad for a bloke who gets hundred’s or not many at all!
- Ian Redpath (Southern Districts) scored 7209 runs in 215 innings at the modest average of 34.83. “Redders” however is one of those players who could bat anywhere and was always best in a crisis. He scored 2x200; 16x100 and 34x50.
- Brad Schmulian was a New Zealand import who could claim to call the Waratah Cricket Club his second home – returning to play with the Red Caps for eight seasons. His 250 wickets bowling leg breaks put him well and truly into the all-rounder class, and while those wickets are impressive, so are his batting numbers mostly from the middle order: 106 innings with 3868 runs @ 52.99, 13x100, 19x50.
- Probably better known for his exceptional prowess as a wicketkeeper, Darren Treumer, could also bat as his 8084 runs @ 41.89 with 13x100 and 44x50 make plain. Most often in the middle order, his style was never overstated as he elegantly went about his work picking up runs with an exquisite array of strokes that would very often hit the boundary fence. Treumer was never out until he very much was, and even then, he was happy to debate the issue. While that attitude may have raised the hackles of opponents, he was the ultimate team man.
- Ken Vowles realised at an early age that he could play cricket and with the support of his family and Southern Districts mentor, Jock Bremner, set off to prove that very point. Mixing SACA District cricket with that in Darwin, Vowles may have relied on his talent, strength and probably his eye too often which perhaps denied him greater achievements. Nonetheless, he was a “first pick” player in any representative side and while his explosive style didn’t save too many games it was the catalyst behind some memorable wins. His 5592 runs @ 35.17 with 9x100 and 31x50 almost certainly understates his worth to NT and Darwin Cricket.
- Jake Weatherald played at Darwin during his junior and early senior seasons and then transferred to Tracy Village where he mixed his SACA first-class activities with those at the Village. Weatherald pretty much batted at the top of the order during his NT Cricket Under 17 and Under 19 representative days and he continues to fill that role in all forms of the game at SACA first-class level. His commitment to an attacking style of batting will not always produce great innings scores but his 1800 runs @ 62.07 with 8x100 and 8x50 sets him apart from most others at DDCC level.
- Officially, Waratah and NT Cricket batting supremo Ralph Wiese scored 8478 runs @ 40.18 with 18x100 and 48x50 in 238 games. I didn’t see Wiese at his best but knowledgeable people, with no agenda, suggest that with the onset of Cyclone Tracy in December 1974 and with the possible loss of records during the demolition of Darwin, suspect his record is modest. Those same people believe Wiese made well over 30x100 in Darwin Cricket, and while I have good reason to accept the veracity of those claims, his true contribution may never be recognised.
- Shaun Williams was the hard nut of batting during his stint at Darwin Cricket Club. Refusing to give opposition bowlers any chance, his gritty chase for runs became a feature from day one. Always batting at the top of the order, Williams lead from the front and more often than not set a solid batting foundation for his Club and the Territory during representative cricket. Williams played 81 games with Darwin CC and accumulated 3300 runs @ 49.25 with 8x100 and 18x50 – not bad for an opener.
- 12th man was a difficult choice, but decisions must be made, and I chose DDCC journeyman Marc Calkin. Like so many of his style, Calkin’s overall record doesn’t fully reflect his ability. At his best, the pugnacious Calkin had few peers as an attacking batsman who could be used anywhere in the top six. His real value was in white-ball cricket, but overall, 4300 runs at 37.39 with 10x100 and 19x50 is better than reasonable in Darwin cricket.