Rowbottom banishes protection to post 158 not out

THE tale of the 44-year-old opener who made 158 not out, including the last 50-odd without pads, will go down in Allansford Cricket Club folklore.

Gary Rowbottom had his teammates bemused when cramps forced him to bat without pads against East Warrnambool-YCW on the weekend.

Rowbottom started cramping in his shins and calves when he reached 70 on day one of the WDCA division two match at Uebergang Oval.

He persevered, but when the pain became unbearable he discarded the leg protectors.

Rowbottom was on about 110 at the time and bravely — or mindlessly — batted on to reach 158 not out.

The innings ended when tailender Nick Mills departed for 20 in the 73rd over. 

Allansford made 276 and had East 1-1 at stumps.

Rowbottom said a top order collapse prompted him to bat on. He got hit in the knee once “but it was OK”.

“All I was worried about was to keep batting. We were 6-100. It was only the 45th over,” he said.

“I wanted to keep batting because I thought an 80-over day, the quicker we go out the more fielding we have to do. I didn’t want to field.

“So I kept batting. It came from there. It’s the old adage in cricket — the longer you bat, the better you see them. I was seeing them like footies at the end.”

Rowbottom started his cricket career at Boorcan and had two seasons at Noorat before joining Allansford.

He came out of retirement to play alongside his 15-year-old son Tom, who opened the batting with him at the weekend.

“I really enjoy playing with him. I hadn’t played for a couple of years, it’s been really good,” Rowbottom said.

He said Saturday’s 158 was the best of his “eight or nine” centuries.

Making runs is in the family, with his older brother Brian, 47, belting 695 for Boorcan in South West Cricket’s division three last season.

“When we were kids growing up at Boorcan, we’d have a leather case and we’d be playing with just a bat,” Gary Rowbottom said.

“It would be a bit different if you were facing a young Gary MacLean or a young Mick Rantall.”

Coincidentally, MacLean — more renowned for his batting these days — blasted 137 for Nestles against Wesley-CBC on the same day in the same grade.

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