Cricket has been a big part of Rob Anderson’s life, and like a smouldering fire his hunger for the game has never dimmed.
It’s why at 51, Anderson has found himself pulling on the whites again.
On Saturday he will take to the field for Mornington to complete his first game in Gunnedah for over 20 years.
Mornington are on the cusp of first innings points, and their first win since 2016, with Kookaburras five wickets down and still 108 runs in arrears of their first innings.
Anderson showed he was far from out of his depth, making 25, to be Mornington’s second-top scorer. And he loved being out in the middle again – even if his body didn’t necessarily.
“The mind doesn’t really wear out but I didn’t pull up too good on Sunday,” he said, a few “painkillers” at the pub afterwards only really delaying the inevitable.
Strolling out to the middle when Mornington were 2-47, Anderson said he was “a bit nervous”.
“But that’s good. It’s always a good sign when I’m nervous – it means something to me,” he said.
“To be back on an old stomping ground was nice.
“I had plenty of moments on Saturday to have a reflection on a different weekend.”
“I was fortunate enough to play in a wonderful period of time for Gunnedah cricket.”
Aged 13 when he made his first grade debut, “Bullet”, as he is commonly known, started with Albion – before seeking a new challenge and moving to Serviceman’s Club (now Mornington).
One of the premier cricketers in town in his prime, Anderson toured Singapore and Malaysia with the Northern NSW Emu Colts and represented NSW Country.
Another highlight was padding up for the Country Invitational side against the NSW Sheffield Shield side.
“It was a pre-season game and they had Steve Waugh,John Dyson, Geoff Lawson, Greg Matthews playing. They had six or seven ex- or [current] Australian players,” Anderson recalled.
“That was a buzz. I got three wickets that day.”
Anderson moved away to Hervey Bay to raise his family and had the great thrill a few years ago of playing with his son Brad, in what was the then 13-year-old’s first grade debut.
It was something he “will never forget”.
He said helping Brad with his training and ferrying him around to games “rekindled the spark” for cricket in himself, although he admitted that the hankering to play again was always there.
Returning to Gunnedah, he was approached by Mornington president Bruce Hockings about being a club delegate, and one thing led to another.
“For me it’s (cricket) been a big part of my life,” he said.
“I remember when I was a lad, whenever there was a test match on, I never used to go to school – I’d watch it.
“It was cricket 24-7, 12 months of the year. I couldn’t get enough of it.”
He still can’t.
“I’m as passionate in the mind about the game as I ever have been,” he said.
These days that passion is infused with a desire to help people improve their game.
“It’s my turn to give back, if I can somehow. I’ll help anyone that asks me,” he said, recalling the technical structure he was taught by former Gunnedah cricketer Peter Cantrell, who went on to play for and to coach the Dutch national team.
“It’s rewarding to see people improve,” he said.
He has been impressed by what he has seen from the young Mornington side.
“There’s energy there and a will (to win) – you can’t ask for much more than that,” Anderson said.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday again.”