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As the Australian National University (ANU) celebrates its 75th anniversary, Dr Craig Emerson reminisces about the social cricket series played between economics departments in the 1980s. It was a time of big hair, big dreams and broken bones.
In 1981, back in the days when the ANU Research School of Pacific Studies (RSPacS) shared the Coombs building with the ANU Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS), the economics departments from both schools had their first social cricket match.
This epic clash was the inaugural game in what would go on to become a one-day interdepartmental cricket series, hereafter known as the ‘Cassing Cup series’. Visiting Fellow at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, Dr Craig Emerson, fondly remembers this time.
“To facilitate maximum participation in the game, several novel rules were introduced,” Dr Emerson said.
“A batsperson could not be dismissed before scoring, they had to retire at the end of the over in which they had scored 30 runs, and bowlers could bowl no more than five eight-ball overs. The match was contested over 30 eight-ball overs per side.”
Dr Emerson, a PhD student at the time, captained the RSPacS team. Other academic team members included Dr Peter McCawley, Emeritus Professor Kym Anderson, Professor Peter Lloyd and the Hon Dr Mike Nahan (a PhD student with Emerson in the 80s and former WA Treasurer).
Jim (James) Cassing captained the RSSS team, which included Emeritus Professor Bob Gregory and Dr Peter Hendy, a summer holiday student, who went on to become the Member for Eden Monaro.
“On the road to glory, Cassing scored the maximum 30 runs—his first effort with the bat in top-class competition,” Dr Emerson said.
“His dismissal, no less than five times before scoring, provided valuable practice for his impending onslaught on the RSPacS bowlers.”
The first game started a fierce but friendly rivalry, and RSPacS asked for a re-match, which was held in January the next year. This time, the RSPacS team had a few ring-ins who would help them on their way to sweet revenge.
“The illustrious Cassing broke his hand playing forward to a rising delivery from the RSPacS ring-in, ‘Hurricane Haberkorn’,” Dr Emerson said.
“However, this did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for a deciding match.”
The final match was played on 7 February 1992, allowing a sufficient amount of time for Cassing’s hand to heal. The rule preventing a player from being dismissed before scoring was abandoned for the series decider.
“Assisted by a powerful batting line-up and a weakened RSPacs team, the RSSS won the series in a high-scoring affair,” Dr Emerson said.
“Cassing’s performance with the bat placed him in the HaIl of Fame alongside Sir Donald Bradman. Both scored a duck in their final innings and both have an average of less than a hundred.”
The Cassing Cup was named in the spirit of a famous quote from the man himself: “It’s not how you play the game; it’s whether you win or lose”.
So where is this glorious trophy now? It was last spotted in the clutches of Emeritus Professor Bruce Chapman, who may or may not remember its whereabouts.
While the RSPacS has since become the ANU College of Asia and Pacific, the spirit of competitiveness, teamwork and a side of cheekiness has carried over to the culture of Crawford School, as we remember those who fought bravely on the cricket pitch.