Dean Jones and His Mate. By Paul Tasker

Despite the services of Australian International cricketer and World No1 ODI batsman Dean Jones, Nostell lost their match at Carlton earlier in the 1988 Season and were desperate to gain their revenge in the return fixture at Nostell.

Now, for most teams, having one World class cricketer playing for them would be sufficient by any stretch of the imagination, but not Nostell. They knew how dangerous Carlton were and didn’t want to take any chances, so Dean Jones asked his mate, Tony Dodemaide to come and play for Nostell as well.

For those who don’t know who Tony Dodemaide is or what he did, according to Wikipedia he was an Australian International cricketer who made his Test debut in December 1987 against New Zealand where he took 6 wickets and then followed that up with 5 wickets against Sri Lanka in his ODI debut in January 1988. Not a bad résumé at all and as a right arm fast-medium bowler playing on Leeds League pitches, he must have thought that all his Christmases had come at once. Well, you would think so, wouldn’t you?

Unlike the previous game, where the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the weather forecast for this game wasn’t great, with dark clouds all around us and heavy rain expected later that afternoon. The pitch wasn’t great either and was very green, so runs would not come easily, especially against the pace and seam of Tony Dodemaide.

Once again Nostell won the toss and put us in to bat and as you can imagine with conditions definitely favouring the bowlers, we naturally struggled against Tony who was moving the ball both ways. But, Carlton players are a tough bunch who don’t give in or throw their wickets away and are always prepared to battle hard. And this game was no different.

In difficult conditions, we managed to accumulate a competitive 160 or so runs and at least give us something to bowl against.

When it came to Nostell’s innings, Dean Jones decided to bat at No 3 again and it wasn’t long before he was at the crease. However, due to the tricky pitch conditions, his usual fluent shot making was being hampered, (which to be fair to him he would never have seen a pitch like this in International cricket), so I came on to bowl, as I guess the skipper thought I could do the business.

Roy Sampson was Captain and he always had confidence in my ability as a bowler (probably more than me sometimes) and he wasn’t afraid to try new ideas. However, to begin with he set a pretty standard field with a long off, long on, a deep square leg and a cow corner.

Due to Malcolm Baddeley’s superb bowling performance in the previous match, I didn’t get an opportunity to bowl at Dean Jones, so when it came to bowl my first delivery, I don’t think either of us knew exactly what was going to happen. I was very nervous, but tried not to show it and the look on his face when the ball began to turn was priceless. He was surprised, but I loved it and whilst it gave him something to think about, it gave me more confidence and allowed me to get into my rhythm.

It was at this point that Roy Sampson decided to bring mid-on up to about half way and tempt Dean Jones to hit me over the top and hopefully make a mistake. I could see the logic, but this was Dean Jones and not some tail ender. I wasn’t 100% sure about his tactics, but Roy’s faith in me always gave me the confidence I needed to give it everything.

I just kept running in and ‘spinning’ the ball as much as I could, focusing on line and length and trying to make it as hard as possible for him to score runs. And then it happened.

Dean Jones had had enough and made up his mind to come down the wicket to hit me over the top, but he didn’t quite get to the pitch of the ball and his miss-timed shot went in the air towards mid-on, whom Roy had just brought up a couple of overs previously.

On this particular day, it was my dad, Melvyn Tasker (Big Taz) who was fielding at mid-on and we all turned to watch the ball head in his direction. In what felt like slow motion, the ball looped in the air, but we couldn’t tell if it would carry or go over his head. As the ball travelled through the air it finally reached my Dad who caught it with ease and then he proceeded to celebrate by running across the pitch like he’d been shot out of a cannon. To this day, I honestly believe if someone hadn’t run to stop him, he would have made it all the way back to Carlton. That’s how much his wicket meant to us. Needless to say, he was a bit chuffed with the catch, but I’m not sure if it was because I was bowling or because it was Dean Jones who was batting. Either way, we were in to them.

Once Dean Jones was out, even the ‘All Round’ skills of Tony Dodemaide couldn’t rescue them from this one and it wasn’t long before we had Nostell in trouble. But there were some ominous dark clouds moving closer, which meant it was going to be a race against the weather.

Nostell then gave up going for the win and decided to go for the draw to stop us from picking up full points or better still for them was to wait for the rain to come and share the points. But as before, Carlton proved too good for Nostell and just as the rain came, we bowled them out to win the game.

Over the years, Carlton has produced some terrific players, who as individuals could turn a match on its head in just a few moments of brilliance, but as a Team Carlton has always been special and more than the sum of its parts. This is why the club has had so much success over the years.

Not many clubs would have given a little skinny and naïve 15 year old kid the opportunity to play first team cricket as one of their main bowlers, but Carlton did and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Here’s to another 150 years of Carlton Cricket Club.