DENNINGTON champion Terry Beks started his now-illustrious cricket career as a 14-year-old at Grassmere in the late 1970s.
He’ll play his 300th Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA) top grade match tomorrow, alongside another 14-year-old making headway in the game — his son Shannon.
Dennington last night handed Shannon his first WDCA division one cap for the match against Port Fairy at J.J. Colledge Oval.
The teenager will join his father in the side as two generations of the family mark career milestones together.
For Terry, reaching 300 matches adds another highlight to one of country cricket’s most enviable resumes.
The 47-year-old spent 10 years honing his talent at Grassmere, playing in multiple flags over the journey.
South Warrnambool football mates and his brother Leon lured him to Dennington for the 1989-90 season and he’s bled red and white for the past 23 years.
In that time, Beks has played 299 consecutive matches, including eight grand finals for seven flags.
He’s made almost 4700 runs from 276 innings at an average of 23.3.
He took his 600th wicket last weekend, has had 21 five-wicket hauls and an average of 15.9 from more than 4000 overs.
The bowling all-rounder is also a nine-time WDCA Melbourne Country Week representative and is into his 17th season as club president.
But cricket has brought him joy as well as success.
“I’ve certainly spent a lot of time there. I’ve got some great friends that I’ve met over the years, ones I’ve played with and against and been to Country Week with,” he said.
“We’ve had a bit of success. It’s been fantastic. I’ve been involved at a lot of different levels and spent a lot of time out there.”
Beks’ first game for Dennington was against Merrivale in November 1989. He made three and had figures of 0-28 as the Dogs won by three runs, but he only remembers wearing spikes for the first time.
Now a veteran, he still has a key role for Dennington locking down an end with his consistent line and length bowling.
But Beks’ career, and life, has not been without its challenges.
He lost his wife Michelle to cancer in 2000.
He has since been raising his sons Brayden, Xavier and Shannon.
Xavier will play in Dennington’s under 17 side tomorrow, while Brayden is currently studying for exams.
He is now with partner Deanne Teran, but the memories from 12 years ago remain strong.
As Beks played through the 2000-01 summer and Dennington won the division one and two flags, bush cricket’s uniting power came into focus.
“The feeling around the club was really good that year, like any year when you do well. You need that feeling,” he said.
“It was important for me to have something else to put focus into.
“The club paid tribute to Michelle. She was a popular person around the club.
“The year was dedicated to her. Once we won the grand final it was really special.
“I suppose I worked out my techniques on how to cope. I’m a really positive person, I had my own system that I was using to keep being positive.
“I’d still try and appreciate Michelle and the times we had, and try and do it in a positive way, however that was.”
Beks said Dennington Cricket Club was “really all about the people”.
The Dogs’ premierships are the highlights of his career.
“The celebrations were an achievement, too,” Beks said.
But he laughs when the subject of retirement is raised.
“I always get the nicknames old people get. ‘The Old Fossil’ is the go,” he said.
“But no. Each year, if there are young ones there I’m keeping out of a game, I’d step aside. But we haven’t been in that situation yet.
“Usually there is a spot there when they need someone to bowl tight and hold up an end.
“As long as I’m enjoying myself and I’m fit and able and I’m not keeping someone out of a game, I’ll keep going.”