Well done, Luke, but is this feat even better?

The power of a morning newspaper is the way it can awaken a deep-sleeping brain so early in the day.

The body may be slowly assembling itself and its many moves as it stumbles to the breakfast table, but the brain is invariably still in bed.

People bury their face in coffee to try and make the brain work.

I don't drink coffee early, so only an arresting ODT front page that rips my one working eye right out of its socket can bring my brain to life.

Such it was on the Monday of last week when I read of 8-year-old Kaikorai cricketer Luke Marsh taking six wickets in six balls while helping dismiss a hapless Taieri side for just one run.


Now reluctant would I ever be to criticise the paper for which I work all week long writing a column, but there was a name missing from this story, and it was that omission, that cruel unforgivable omission, which tore my one working eye from its socket.

As a former cricket writer, not a good one but that is another story for another time, I have a staggering memory bank of cricketing feats, and when I saw Luke's achievement, I quickly summoned a Dunedin junior grade bowling performance that was even greater.

In 1961.

And in case readers are pshawing my recall, just because I am older than 39, the age at which the memory begins to decay, can I just add, quietly, without fanfare, behind cupped hand, that the young cricketer's name missing from that February 8 front page story was Roy Colbert?

I was also playing for Kaikorai, 11 years old, a grade filled with cricketers of disbelievable skill: I am sure Luke will be a Black Cap, but having coached 8-year-olds in the 1990s, I think 11-year-olds were just a teeny bit tougher.

Perhaps it was my exhaustingly long and unique run-up, but back then, I was considered to be dangerously fast.

l learned this approach to the wicket under impossible conditions in the Kaikorai Primary School playground.

We played beside a corrugated iron fence by the toilets, no leg-side shots, on a wicket that was about 12m long.

I would begin my approach at the far wall, 40m distant, and then, when reaching the toilets, from which or into which boys often ran, I would veer far left, then zoom back towards the delivery crease, before veering again at the opening to the girls' toilets.

I would finally turn sharp right, and dragging my big toe like Freddie Trueman, I would deliver the ball.

Look up Double Left Veer Run Up in Google. We were at the Oval playing St Edmund's, a lovely bunch of kids, but not especially talented.

I was too young to understand that loudly questioning the validity of Roman Catholicism in my follow-through was unkind.

But Kevin O'Brien, an elegant stroke player who later played Otago Brabin Shield cricket, could really bat.

He had tonked me all over Dunedin for two seasons, hence when I bowled the first two batsmen and could almost taste a hat-trick, I turned white when O'Brien strode to the crease.

But it was just one of those days - before he had even lifted his bat, O'Brien's stumps were around his ankles like surrendered underpants.

The next two fell even quicker, nearly beating the crestfallen O'Brien off the park.

Could I get the double hat-trick?

But I was buggered.

My sixth delivery was bad, plonked airily towards mid-on where we had a fielder who usually dropped the ball when you handed it to him.

But he had a big stomach, and after the ball sailed through his hands, it landed on the stomach and I swear remained there long enough to be a legal catching dismissal.

A big video screen and a large home crowd would have given me this wicket.

I then added one more with the first ball of the next over, technically seven wickets in seven balls.

Which puts me eighth-equal in all cricket anywhere in the world.

But I am not Australian. I wish Luke all the best. I hope one day he takes eight.

Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.

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