SCORERS. They're the unsung heroes at every cricket field from grassroots under-12s to the international game.
It takes more than just players and umpires to bring together a game of cricket, and the often thankless task of scoring - diligently plotting dots, strokes and numbers on a templated sheet - rarely gets the recognition it deserves. It is the portal to any sensical conclusion of an afternoon of white-clad folk gathered on a sun-baked field, peppering leather at willow, retrieving it and relentlessly repeating the cycle.
Their accurate bookkeeping is the sanity that prevails to resolve - or moreover prevent - disputes at the end of a weary day's play. In their summation, the scores forever provide historical context in the form of career averages and the like for these obsessed individuals of all ages and abilities; the source of tall tales on the sauce, and recollections of a bygone era.
Last Friday two of the Clarence Valley's most dedicated scorers, Judy Disson and Ann Chard, were rewarded with the opportunity to officially score the Sydney Sixers twenty20 trial match against Hong Kong at Coffs Harbour ahead of the start of the 2016/17 Big Bash League. The offer came courtesy of NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association executive officer Darren Goodger, who never ceases to remember to give back to his Grafton roots from his Sydney base.
"It was great experience," Disson said. "It was hard work though. There was no mucking around between overs and the balls came thick and fast.
"We were up in an air-conditioned box, which was fabulous, but it had tinted windows for the sun during the day and at night it made the numbers very hard to read, especially for the Sixers."
The pair were handed two-way radios - one for security and one to communicate with the umpires, and flicked a bed-lamp on and off to acknowledge signals out in the middle.
"We used different scoresheets to what we use on a Saturday which we had to get our head around, and I am now practicing balls faced for Brothers on the weekends just in case we get another call up."
Another man was in the scorer's box most of the evening entering scores for the electronic scoreboard. But when his computer froze midway through Hong Kong's innings and had to leave the box to do the scoreboard manually, the Grafton women were completely alone and left to their own devices.
"That's when the panic button hit," Disson said. "Trying to do the scores, as well as identify players. So we called in reinforcements at one stage to do some spotting.
"You get a bit of an adrenalin rush every now and then, when you've got the wrong person and you're trying to correct it, but the game's still going on."
It was an impressive effort from the Sixers, who posted 4 for 210 off their 20 overs courtesy of some late hitting from Daniel Hughes (69 off 33 balls) and 53 off 34 from English import Sam Billings, before restricting Hong Kong to just 6 for 119 in reply.
But the ladies had little time to make a mental note of the match's highlights.
"When you're that busy you really don't watch the game.
"We balanced in the end, so that's the main thing."
Far removed from the air-conditioned comfort of the scorers' box at C.Ex International Stadium, the pair reunited under the trees at Lower Fisher Park on Saturday, as their respective clubs Clocktower Hotel Brothers and GI Hotel Tucabia-Copmanhurst went into battle.
"We talked about it on Saturday and both said we'd do again if ever asked," Disson said. "It was an honour to be asked to do it."
"The worst part was we were given sandwiches, platters of fruit, tea and coffee, but did not have time to have any of it."
Disson said scoring was a rewarding way for non-playing family members to take an interest in the game.
"I enjoy doing it," she said. "It keeps your brain active, that's for sure.
"Started out with third grade and have been doing first grade for a while now. First grade's a damn sight easier. If you can do it in third grade you can definitely do it in first grade."
Judy and her husband Neil Disson held a scorers course in Grafton last year on behalf of Clarence River Cricket Association. While that was well-received, there is still a shortage of scorers in the local competition, particularly in lower grades, where players are generally lumped with the task.
"We all know the fun of trying to work a score book out when someone stuffs it up," Clarence River Cricket Association president Tom Kroehnert said. "So when you've got someone there who knows what they're doing it makes life a hell of a lot easier."