He?s still going strong
By GREG WHITE
WHEN Terry Herbert entered his teens he was always the last lad picked for a game of cricket. "I finished up so frustrated," the master bowler who's captured more than 1000 A grade wickets growled in memory of his less than auspicious beginning. "But I persisted. "In those days, if the other team was short, your captain would lend you out." One day while on loan, Herbert held six catches against his own side. "Never got lent out again," he said proudly. If he wrote a book, Herbert's stories of local cricket from the 1960s onward would be a bestseller. While he won't go that far the statistics are being gathered for a special research project. Amazingly, he almost didn't become a bowler till fate took a hand. "I was around 14, we were playing Sawtell and getting a flogging," he remembered. "Everyone except me was getting a bowl and nothing was working. "Even the wicketkeeper took his pads off for a couple of overs." What Herbert didn't know was his brother had told the captain he wasn't much of a bowler and it was only last-ditch desperation that saw the ball tossed in his direction. "My brother was only joking but they thought he was fair dinkum," Herbert said. He quickly removed three batsman and became a frontline bowler from that day. Times have changed but Herbert's passion to play has never waned. "Actually, playing veteran's cricket has made me keener," he said. "Being in A grade for Diggers Ex-Services at my age is unusual but while still active I want to stay at the top." As a young speedster, Herbert cracked a few jaws with his quick deliveries and recalls he was proud of the feat at the time. "Remember, this was the era of Lillee and Thommo and things were different," he said. "You were expected to intimidate batsmen and hurt them if you could." He doesn't hide the fact he broke opponents' bones. He's just not as proud of it anymore. There was one match, facing Jetty batsman Ron Scott, he clearly remembers. "In my last four overs I hit Ronnie somewhere on the body with every delivery," he said. "By the end he was asking to get out of there as he feared for his health." With practice and experience, Herbert's approach became just as lethal without the necessity to hurt. "I aimed to get the ball over the stumps and drifting back towards the batsman," he said. "You could get him out, or knock him out, depending on the circumstances. "Gradually I found getting him out was better." And hasn't Herbert got a few out. At least 1000 in A grade alone, and that's after discounting the records held in 35 scorebooks that are missing. "Good captains help make good bowlers," Herbert said. "They know when to use you and when to rest you. "They have good memories, knowing the style of batsmen who suits and all their funny, little quirks." He names Rod Kratz as a great captain, brilliant at setting fields, then turning his bowlers loose in the quest for wickets. "Keepers are next in importance," he said. "They notice the most ordinary things and feed you information you can use to turn a match on it's ear." Always fiercely competitive, Herbert has gone to extraordinary lengths to get onto the field, even changing his wedding day because there was a clash of dates. "My sons know how competitive I am because I treat them the same way on the field," he said. "I've encouraged them to be proud of their achievements without getting carried away. "String together a few highlights then look back later and be proud of what you've accomplished." Underachievement is something Herbert detests. "When I see young blokes stuffing about and wasting their talent, it leaves me cold," he said. "There's nothing worse than wasted opportunity. "It knocks once or twice if you're lucky, then it's gone." Herbert has no time for sledging despite admitting to some celebrated verbal jousts with his opponents. "I have been known for heated battles of words," he added candidly. "But you stopped when it got to the point of humiliation. "There's no room for that in cricket or society." There's no objection when others call him names, providing it's done in jest. "When young blokes call me grandpa or refer to me as an old fart when I come in to bowl, I think it's funny. "Only serves as motivation." At the halfway mark of the Coffs Harbour district season, Herbert is fifth highest wicket taker and fourth in the averages. From 38 overs, his figures include four maidens with 10 wickets at an average of 11.3. This bowler approaching 50 years of age is still conceding fewer than three runs an over. "I'm constantly setting goals," Herbert offers as the secret of his success. "My body is slowing down but the brain remains sharp and the desire to play is stronger than ever." While Herbert claims this season will be his last, nobody believes it. "Probably it's been 12 years since I started my final season," he said. "I can't see a 13th doing any harm." Regrets? Like in Sinatra's famous song, there've been a few. "Not going to Sydney when I had the chance," was Herbert's greatest error in judgement. "I have always been a positive person so I'm sure I would have made the grade." Being selected for Doug Walters' testimonial match and missing the game through misadventure was more annoyance than anything. "The weather turned bad and flooded the roads, so I couldn't get through," Herbert said. "Even worse, it meant I couldn't attend Dougie's dinner."