Record-holding veteran retiring

Retiring Green Island Cricket Club veteran Dion Lobb, pictured with his painting and decorating...
Retiring Green Island Cricket Club veteran Dion Lobb, pictured with his painting and decorating van yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Green Island stalwart Dion Lobb has retired after amassing a staggering 415 senior games for the club. Cricket writer Adrian Seconi caught up with the Swamp Rats’ all time leading wicket-taker.

Do you know how you get to Dion Lobb?

Dance down the wicket and it will throw the medium pacer off that impeccable length he has operated at for more than two decades.

That advice came straight from the seamer's mouth.

But of course that titbit is completely useless now. The Green Island veteran right-armer has retired.

Lobb played his last senior game for the team at the National Club Championships in Auckland earlier this month.

The 38-year-old has put together a scarcely believable record. In an age of the fleeting attention span, Lobb is a throwback to a generation we might not see the likes of again.

A younger Lobb (back row, third from the left) celebrates with his Green Island team-mates after...
A younger Lobb (back row, third from the left) celebrates with his Green Island team-mates after claiming the 2005-06 senior club banner.
He has played for one club his entire senior career and, boy, he made it last. The cap he was presented with on his debut 21 years ago is an old, grubby thing these days. He is too scared to wash it in case it falls apart.

It is fair to say it has brought him a lot of luck, though. Lobb has had a charmed and mostly injury-free career, amassing a club record 415 games.

He has got the most wickets as well - 852 scalps at a wonderful average of 15.1.

His best bowling of nine for 15 was one of those days when the ball just hooped on command.

Lobb's ability to drop on to a precise line and length brought regular success.

He was named Dunedin club cricket bowler of the year nine times and player of the year once (2008-09). He featured in all five of Green Island's successful National Club Championships and won 12 senior banners with the club.

Lobb (front row, centre) props up the Bing Harris Shield after Green Island won it again this...
Lobb (front row, centre) props up the Bing Harris Shield after Green Island won it again this season.
"Obviously it was nice to enjoy those moments in the changing room after," Lobb said.

"And that is what you play for, for the friends that you make. You play 21 years because you don't want to miss out on those things.

"I think I was the 145th player to play for Green Island and I would have played with well over 200 players. So I've played with a lot of people in my career and it is definitely the friendship [which makes the game special]."

Despite all Lobb's success at club level, he only got the one opportunity for Otago. He was called in as a late injury replacement for a first-class game in March, 2007.

The Volts hosted Auckland at the University Oval in the last game of the season and Lobb bowled second change. He trapped Carl Cachopa lbw for 17 and finished with one for 37 from seven overs.

Rain arrived early on day four and there was no play possible.

Dion Lobb pictured in 2016 with the threadbare cap he had worn since his senior debut in 1999....
Dion Lobb pictured in 2016 with the threadbare cap he had worn since his senior debut in 1999. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
He would have loved more opportunities but it was not to be.

"I enjoyed the time that I had in that set-up. Maybe it came down to I wasn't quick enough.

"But the guys that were there, like Warren McSkimming and Brad Scott, were quality bowlers. It was just the wrong time I guess.

"When the next year came around guys were back from injury and I didn't get a look in. But it is what it is."

He was desperately unlucky, really. Arguably there were quite a few who got an opportunity ahead of Lobb when logic would have suggested the Green Island stalwart was a much better option.

He answered an SOS for the first-class side in 2015 but ended up carrying the drinks.

"I just hope Blair Soper doesn't follow the likes of myself and Grant Payne and not get the opportunities."

Soper has played 11 first-class games for Otago and the left-arm quick appeared to have a promising future. But he has not played for the Volts in three years.

"I hope they noticed [how well he bowled in Auckland] and give him a shoulder tap. He definitely deserves a go because he was getting quality players out."

Lobb will stay involved at the club and has promised to fill in for the second grade or third grade teams if there is a hole. Green Island is perhaps more like the Hotel California than a cricket club in that sense.

"Just because you retire, you never leave," Lobb said.

"I'll still get back in and help out the boys."

A painter by trade, Lobb does plan to spend more time with his family - wife Amanda and daughter Harper (3) - next summer, though.

They are building a house in Mosgiel and it will need painting.

Sunnyvale will need a new champion.

The numbers

Lobb’s GI record
415 games
852 wickets
15.1 bowling average
Nine for 15 best bowling
33 five-wicket bags
556 maidens
3687.5 overs
72 not out high score
9 half centuries

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