Friday, 10 April 2009

Bryce McGain: Top Bloke

The only reason I have waited this long is because it seemed like a given. Nobody needs to point out the fact that "Nice Bryce" was a genuine top bloke. If John Howard were still playing cricket badly, he'd even go so far as to say he's a "ruddy good bloke". Because he really is.

Bryce has had one of the most unorthodox cricketing careers of any Aussie cricketer. He spent over a decade of his life as an IT worker at ANZ Bank, playing club cricket on the side, before, at the age of 35, he quit his job and began playing cricket professionally. He has an eight year old son who's leg spinning is dodgy, but Bryce is already working on that. He played club cricket for 15 years - that's 15 years - before finding a place in the Victorian side.

When he was in, he spent a good few years disappearing from the side. But Bryce, that Bryce, he didn't give up. Experience and skill were his two strengths, not to mention his superpowers obtained from wearing glasses, and Bryce McGain found himself thrashing NSW in the 2007 Pura Cup. The next year, he worked more wonders and took 38 wickets at 34.15. He was the Sheffield Shield spinner.

So in January 2009, Bryce stepped out on the pitch for the Shield and took a five wicket haul which had Australian selectors shooing him onto the national team. Bryce delivered and he was pointed towards the airport terminal on a plane heading to South Africa.

He missed the plane, of course. Management had a good hard talk with him about it, and he was on the way to South Africa, full of heady optimism and a handy tip from Michael Clarke telling him to sing the goddamn victory song or risk death at Katich's hands. When he debuted, Bryce McGain had the worst 5 days of his life. I know they were, because I felt the pain and horror of those days. If I'd had to live through such an extended nightmare, I would have killed myself on the 2nd day. Not Bryce, however. He stuck it out and enduring the horrors of an over zealous South African batting order. Even Ashwell Prince got stuck into him. Ashwell Prince gets stuck into nobody; he just hits and occupies the crease to gradually build up a score.

In the end, Bryce McGain's one Test match resulted in him now having one of the top five worst Test bowling performances in history. I won't specify how many runs he went for, and where he stands, because this post is to focus on the good things about him, this top bloke.

Bryce is still optimistic, although how he can be so is beyond me. He has said that he "certainly doesn't intend [for] it to be over after just one game". Shane Warne is also backing him, reciprocating Bryce's own statement of:

But it was a couple of days of bowling, that's all. It doesn't mean I can't bowl. As disappointing as it was, I haven't lost my confidence.
The truth has never been so blindingly obvious, but it remains to be seen whether the Australian selectors are willing to look past one loss and invest in supporting Australia's most successful [current] leg spinner. In the meantime, Bryce is settling for knowing that he is a bloody good top bloke.

These Happy Days are yours and mine, Happy Days.


miriam said...

Would you look at that ridiculously jaunty photo!

Amy said...

Maybe Bryce should move into theatre, following his fall from grace? Apparently he has the natural ability. He could star in Nice Bryce: The Musical! and then continue to establish a lucrative career from ridiculing Aussie cricketers in more musicals.

The musical about Warnie was a success, so who knows.

Q said...

Almost looked like Jrod was doing the writing!

Amy said...

What can I say, he's a universal top bloke.