RODNEY Grant has fond memories of growing up a good cover drive from Dennington Recreation Reserve.
With his cricket bat slung over his shoulder, he would walk past the Shamrock Hotel, cut up a track along the railway line and then up the hill to the ground.
While his path to games has changed over the years, Grant’s involvement in Dennington cricket has remained the same.
Today the 31-year-old will drive along the quiet road into the ground for his 200th senior game with the club. In a senior career that started when he was “13 or 14”, he is lining up for his 165th A grade, or division one, game.
It’s a milestone he almost never reached.
“I thought of retiring this year,” Grant said yesterday.
“Then (skipper) Dustin Drew saw me and said ‘you’ve only got eight more to go for 200 and I think you should play on’.”
Grant said accommodating bosses at Lion Dairy and Drink in Allansford where he works as a fitter and turner had cleared the way for him to be available for matches on Saturdays.
“This year I’ve been able to dedicate a lot more time to cricket,” he said.
“I just work a rotating roster and the last three years I’ve been using annual leave days and doing whatever I can to play.”
Grant, who has played in five division one premierships with Dennington and one in colts, said he was pleased to reach 200 games with the club.
“The mateship is what keeps me going,” he said.
“I’ve made some really good mates and the club is just so good to be around, family-oriented.”
He admits the milestone won’t be on his mind when play begins in today’s final-round showdown for top spot against defending premier West Warrnambool.
Grant said he and his teammates were acutely aware of the two-day match’s importance. Win and they finish on top, lose and they can slip from second to third.
Grant, a middle-order left-handed batsman, has found form at the right time.
In his past three knocks he has made 57 not out, 47 and 40. He has made 224 runs at an average of 24.79.
“Drewy just said bat six all year and see how you go. I got a lot of 15s and 20s but I’ve hit a bit of form now,” he said.