A HAT-TRICK from Nick Malavisi has helped steer Heathcote to a comfortable win over Bagshot in the Northern United Cricket Association match on Saturday.
Malavisi snared 6/11 and made 20 with the bat in a great individual performance to help his side to victory.
As anyone who has played in the modern era of Heathcote cricket knows too well, the game is one of individuals making up a team rather than a team of individuals.
A subtle but important difference that illustrates the performance of the individual as the first and foremost.
When team captain Corey Gilmore says in his cliche ridden pre-game prep talk “there is no I in cricket, lads” he not only shows he cannot spell but does not fully understand the culture around him.
Former Heathcote opening bat D. Farley was noted to say “playing for Heathcote is just like playing for an A grade side in terms of the egos but just without the talent”.
So comfortable with fitting into this culture, Farley continued to play for Heathcote even after moving to the surf coast and having to travel past at least 81 other cricket teams to get to Heathcote each Saturday.
Indian cricket writer Rahul Bhattaharya puts the case concisely in a broader context when he writes “yet cricket is only nominally a team sport. It is cumulative rather than collaborative”.
The cumulative nature of the “team” win was shown on the weekend at Heathcote with 10 minnows resting on the broad shoulders of an individual performance to give the Heathcote cricket side the win over Bagshot.
The game plan for Heathcote remains to find form at the right end of the season.
In the first round, an undermanned Heathcote was walloped by Elmore.
In the second week, as fortune would have it, Calivil managed to jump in ahead of the local side in requesting a forfeit and thus giving Heathcote the most unlikely of victories.
So far so good for Gilmore’s side this season.
Facing Bagshot at home for last weekend’s match, curator Grant Baker was instructed not to produce his typical belter but rather a rampant turning pitch that would expedite the inevitable result and open up the bar early.
Winning the toss, Bagshot elected to bat. Pat Ring opened the bowling, bowled well and did not get a wicket — nothing new to report there.
Luke Bell removed the danger man Sherwell, but this brought the Bagshot captain Jefferies to the middle as he looked to settle and then build the innings.
Bagshot was in control when fifth string bowler Nick Malavisi was plucked out of obscurity by Gilmore to produce some well flighted long hops to buy a wicket.
Grasping the opportunity, Malavisi clean ripped J Hamilton to have the score at 4/73.
Shane Warne had already won the battle in the mind of the batsman before he stepped foot on the pitch.
This proved to be the case with the Malavisi factor over the Bagshot middle order as he quickly produced more wickets, working in a bowling partnership with Brenton Conforti to create individual glory.
Jefferies on 33 remained in control but then an unlikely event occurred, compounding into a series of remarkable events.
The Butterfly Effect describes the theory that a small change can have massive and difficult to predict consequences, the example being where a butterfly flapping its wings may cause a change in weather that amplifies into a tornado over the other side of the world.
Pat Ring now found himself behind the stumps for Heathcote as Malavisi took three steps back from the crease to begin bowling to Jefferies.
In an unlikely series of minor events, the ball beat Jefferies leaving him outside his crease and Ring completed the stumping.
Ring was unaware that in this sliding doors moment he had done the greatest individual act on that cricket field that day. His stumping was the butterfly. The next two wickets in two balls to give Malavisi a hat trick was the tornado.
The Bagshot innings finished on 99 in the 33rd over but the important numbers in this individual sport were N. Malavisi with six wickets in seven overs for just 11 runs. Numbers that would have Gideon Haigh reaching for his thesaurus and Shane Warne for a piece of ham and pineapple pizza.
The Heathcote team was unable to find either the cumulative or collaborative effort to chair Malavisi off the field. Instead he led his teammates off to the sound of one hand clapping, as Gilmore is currently playing with his left arm in a plaster cast.
Knowing that the Heathcote side could easily fail to get to 100 to secure the match, Gilmore reminded the opening bats about batting out the overs.
Condon ignored this in typical fashion and hit a quickfire 30. McLean was the first batsman out and Gilmore thought deeply about who to send in the pivotal first drop.
While deliberating between Bell and Conforti, Malavisi continued his big day by taking the initiative and striding out into the middle.
His 20 consolidated the teams position and Luke Bell was on 15 and Pat Ring on nine when Heathcote surpassed the Bagshot total in the 28th over.
The man of the match goes to Nick Malavisi for his hat-trick, six wickets and 20 runs. It was a feat that had everyone reaching for the record books, until they discovered it was the 140th best bowling performance in Victoria so far this season.
As the statistics do not take into account the economy rate, Malavisi is considering a High Court challenge.
Malavisi reflected on his achievement.
“To get my first ever hat-trick at our home ground, in front of the Heathcote crowd and to be the first to do it at the new club rooms is a great feat that I won’t ever forget,” he said.
In fact, since the weekend’s match there has been a groundswell of sentiment to name the re-developed ground in honour of Malavisi’s performance.
A petition has been formed around this and after only 48 hours it already has two signatures.
If the WACA can have the Lillee Marsh End, then surely Heathcote can have the Malavisi Ring End at the new club rooms to celebrate the stumping that turned the match?
Heathcote Cricket Club president Ben Harris though is remaining conservative in his approach.
“A lot happens in a cricket match you see, and it is best not to get too far ahead of yourself,’’ he said.
‘‘For example, four years ago I made a fielding change down that end and that year we won the premiership.’’