Damien Edwards: a fond farewell

DAMIEN EDWARDS: A FOND FAREWELL

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The end of the 2015 season at Lymington Cricket Club was a particularly sad time for all those who played and socialised with the Australian legend that is Damien Edwards. The quiet and unassuming cricketer who hails from Dame Edna Everage’s Melbourne suburb of Mooney Ponds is returning to his native Australia with wife Amy after five highly productive years at Lymington Cricket Club.

Damien came to join Lymington CC courtesy of club stalwart Dave Griffiths who worked with Damo’s future father in law. Griff passed Damo’s details onto Adie Hunt, and the rest is history. He soon made his mark, becoming an integral part of the Second XI and rarely looking out of place when called up to the First XI. His runscoring in 2014 was an important factor in the Seconds winning the Hampshire League.

So what were Damo’s first impressions of the club? “I found it a very welcoming place to be with some very talented young players. I loved the Sports Ground and there were some hilarious characters throughout the club”.

Back in Oz Damo had played for Melbourne grade side Sunbury United, and although it didn’t take him too long to adjust to English conditions, the less competitive aspect of Hampshire League cricket surprised him. “The standard is similar but a big difference is how aggressive the sledging is over in Australia compared to how tame it seems over here. It’s also a different animal batting on low and slow pitches with plenty of movement in the air. It was particularly challenging early in the season after some typical garbage British winter weather”.

IMG_2575Damien has produced many match-winning performances over the years but admits that most of his best performances came in 2014 which was a particularly successful year for the Second XI. “Two unbeaten tons when I opened the batting were memorable. Also my only southern league 50 away at Burridge after we had a typical Lymo batting collapse was decent. I also enjoyed my 6-for against Sway in the Presidents Cup, mainly because nobody expected it… especially me!”. On the flip side, Damo also lists the half century at Burridge as his most disappointing moment because… “I got out at a crucial time to a dreadful shot which ended up costing a certain win”.

Having played under quite a few captains in his time at the club, who does Damo rate as the best? “Ollie Kelly is probably the best captain I’ve played under. He always put great faith in me and that enabled me to contribute massively to the side. He has got us playing with this ruthless streak that all good sides need so we don’t only just win games, we hammer teams.” The Second XI skipper was quick to return the praise as can be seen from his glowing tribute below.

What will Damo miss most about Lymington Cricket Club? “I will miss everything. It’s been the happiest time I’ve ever had on a cricket field and I am genuinely sad to see that come to an end. I will be following the club’s fortunes very closely from back home though.”

DSC07020And has Damien learnt anything from his time at Lymo that perhaps he wouldn’t have learnt at any other club? “Yes, always try your best to beat your age with the bat so you get cheap beer in the bar after the match!” Although Damo took advantage of that offer many times (so successfully in fact that Peter Tapper eventually withdrew the offer), it never actually improved his drinking ability which, for an Aussie, is pretty pathetic. One highlight, or lowlight, of Damo’s drinking adventures came after last year’s annual Birmingham Bullocks fixture when the slightly tipsy Aussie took part in a drinking game. The aim of the game was to drink the contents of a plastic cup and then crush the cup with any part of your body except your hands or feet. The smarter contestants simply sat on the their cup but Damo, being Damo, decided to head butt his cup instead and ended up with blood gushing from a deep circular gash in the middle of his forehead. Another episode Damo may prefer to forget came on his First XI debut at St. Cross when he strode out to bat wearing his trousers back-to-front, much to the amusement of opposition and teammates alike.

DSC06970Damien forged a close friendship with clubmate Edward Freeman, and the Aussie made several telling performances for Ed’s famed Rockbourne evening league XI. “Ed has been everything to my career,” Damo laughed, “he provided a lot of entertainment that’s for sure. Nobody loves cricket as much as Ed and he just keeps finding ways to stay at the highest level which I admire a lot”. Damo also puts much of his success down to the club’s biggest supporter Johnny Jumpers. Quite often the pair would meet to discuss tactics and swap fashion tips over a latte at Cafe Nero. “We got on really well, although I didn’t necessarily agree with some of the dirty old clothes he wore and the language he used,” admitted the 48 year old scoreboard operator.

Does Damien forsee a bright future for Lymington? “Yes, we have a very young side in the Ones. I was one of the older players at the grand old age of 25! Therefore they can only get better and there is strong competition coming from the Second XI who have developed a ruthless nature to their game. The club’s got everything in place for a bright future”.

Lymington actually got one more season out of Damo than they had anticipated as he was due to be returning home last winter but it took a while for wife Amy to obtain a visa. An electrician by profession, Damien plans to carry on doing his “dodgy electrics” when he gets back Down Under. But he definitely plans on coming back to visit Lymington in the future. “We’ll need to come back to see Amy’s family, so we will try make those visits in the summer so I can have a game or two”.

Finally, Damien was asked to describe Lymington CC in three words: “BEST EVER CLUB”.

Cheers Damo, thanks for all the runs, the memories, and the highly unexpected 6-for at Sway! Lymington Cricket Club wishes you and Amy all the very best Down Under.

Personal Tributes:

Ollie Kelly:
It was Kipling, paraphrased, who spoke of the importance of treating successes and failures in the same manner.  In cricketing terms, I can think of no one that better applies to than Damo. Damo spearheaded our Hampshire League Championship success in 2014. 500 plus runs at an average of over 90 can only be described as epic. About 400 of those runs came from crunching pull shots and graceful on-drives. He batted the full 50 overs twice, registering two superb hundreds (one against bitter rivals New Milton). He also decimated Ellingham with the ball on that tense final game of the season, recording figures at one stage of 5 wickets for 1 run.
2015 was less kind to Damo. Every time the ball hit him on the pad, he was given out; every feathered edge was caught. It was a season of little luck. Not once did Damo complain or bemoan his poor fortune. He was only every upbeat and encouraging or positive towards others in the side. Nor did he ask to hide down the order or shy away from the new ball.
The legendary Lymington captain, Adrian Hunt, described club captaincy as not being about adroit tactical acumen or dextrous strategy but managing ten, often raging, egos. Any captain would be delighted to have ten Damos. He gives 100% on the field every single time.  He is happy to bowl early on, in the middle overs (however flat the wicket) and is utterly reliable at the death. If he is not required with the ball, he never sulks or is difficult. He will field (well) anywhere. He is an opening batter of the highest order (who will be very difficult to replace).  He is available every week and trains hard every week from the first week of February to the end of the summer.  Just as importantly, Damo never misses a club night out.
It will be very strange next season on the first weekend in May walking out to bat with someone new. Put most simply, Damo has been a crucial part of our side – both in cricketing terms and as a character on and off the field. As referenced above, he really will be impossible to be replace.

Simon Naylor:
I knew from the minute I signed him up on the doorstep of his (internet) girlfriend’s house that we had a world class player on our hands. You could tell by the way he used his walk, he was a superstar, no time to talk. In the nets, he made mincemeat of established players with bat and ball. I remember having to comfort fast bowlers and spinners alike. “Who is this man, they cried?” I simply answered. “This is Damo. Embrace him. Enjoy him. Watch him. Love him.” And by jove, they did.
Damo has become a Lymington batsman, bowler and electrician in equal measure. He has been part of two promotions, countless club lash ups, and he sorted out the mouse/dishwasher issue in the bar as well. A true club all rounder in every sense. 2014 was perhaps his highlight to date when he played a big role in getting the Seconds promoted, and also married Amy in a fantastic bash last summer at Beaulieu. It was great to see them both looking so happy.
It’s a great shame that we’ve had to send him to Australia, but rules are rules and it has ever been thus. We are losing a club stalwart. We wish Damo and Amy all the very best down under, and look forward to seeing them on hopefully frequent visits back to Lymington. I am sure I speak for everyone at the club, when I say we are gutted to see him go. He is irreplaceable.
Good luck Amy and Damo!

RCC 6 aside winners 2015

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