t almost didn’t happen, but after a late call-up last week, Box Hill Cricket Club president Michael Fletcher became the club’s all-time games record holder, when he started in his 345th game for the club. After stepping back from playing duties this year, Fletcher, 53, had no thoughts of breaking the record. ‘‘I was sitting at Dandenong watching my son play for Fitzroy-Doncaster when I got the call to say the fourths only had 10 players, so I drove to the game to play,’’ Fletcher says. ‘‘Now that it’s happened, it’s a nice thing, but I never set out to do it.’’ Fletcher started at the club in under 16s in 1975, and quickly progressed through the ranks at the sub-district club. A quality off-spin bowler, Fletcher began in the club’s lower grades before eventually carving out a niche in the firsts, where he played more than 90 games. ‘‘My highlight was playing in Box Hill’s first premiership in the firsts [1986-87],’’ Fletcher says. He went on to claim the first XI bowling average the following year, before developing a case of the “yips”, which saw him move down the grades and focus on his batting. ‘‘The view was that I bowled too flat and would need to be more attacking to stay in the firsts, and from there I made a few changes to my bowling action and just never got it back,’’ he says.
‘‘So I went down the grades, and I set myself the goal to make 100 because I’d never made one, so that was the main reason I kept playing.’’ Not only did Fletcher achieve his goal of making a century just a few seasons ago, he also got to experience what few parents do – playing alongside his son. ‘‘He [his son Nick] passed me pretty quick, he didn’t hang around long and he’s playing premier cricket at Fitzroy-Doncaster now,’’ says Fletcher. ‘‘But it was great to play a few games with him. He was quite a good calming influence on me and probably the responsible one on the field most times.’’ Now into his ninth year as president at Box Hill, Fletcher is determined to leave the club in a better position than when he found it, with the growth of the women’s section and the improvements to Box Hill City Oval two of his priorities. ‘‘The club gave me something when I was young and I want to keep giving back,’’ Fletcher says. ‘‘It’s a very special club to me and I don’t think I’d be the person I am today if it wasn’t for the influences of some of the people at Box Hill.’’ \ EwEn McRaE email@example.com
“I want to give something back to the club.”
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