Last week, West End Redbacks rapidly rising quick Jordan Buckingham joined an unusual cricketing club with a frustrating price of admission.
Following strong performances for Australia A and South Australia’s Second XI, 23-year-old Buckingham was selected to make his One-Day Cup debut against Queensland, with housemate and fellow Redback Nathan McAndrew given the honour of presenting his cap.
With the toss run and won, the South Australian squad, buffeted by strong northern winds, gathered in a tight circle to play their part in another milestone in Buckingham’s career, something the Victorian native has made a habit of since crossing the border in pursuit of a cricketing dream three years ago.
As the elements crept menacingly towards Allan Border Field, McAndrew delivered some words of encouragement to his housemate, drew some laughs from his teammates and embraced Buckingham as the bright red cap changed hands.
At that moment, cricket historians removed the cap from their pens and marked down J Buckingham as making his List A debut for South Australia. There was just one small issue.
Buckingham would not play that day.
The Queensland skies, known for their unpredictable ferocity, decided to open just moments before players were due to take the field, resulting in what was hoped would simply be a delayed start.
It was not to be however, with the persistent precipitation lingering so long that play was abandoned without a ball bowled, leaving Buckingham in the unenviable position of having debuted in List-A cricket without ever getting the chance to take the field.
Speaking following the game, McAndrew was flat for his mate, knowing what it meant for him to represent his adopted state.
“He enjoyed it, it was a special day for him, but he is a competitive bloke so I think it hurt that he couldn’t go out there and compete for South Australia,” McAndrew said.
“He loves that more than anything. Unfortunately he didn’t get to go out there so he has to wait until the next opportunity.”
Originally hailing from regional NSW and Victoria respectively, McAndrew and Buckingham share more than just a locker room, with the two living together on the western coastline of South Australia.
In recent months they have also welcomed first year Redback Jake Fraser-McGurk, another Victorian by birth, into their home, with the trio recently bonding over a rapid and stressful change to their setup.
During the cap presentation, McAndrew mentioned that the match payment Buckingham would receive for his debut would hopefully help when it come to the connection of utilities at their new place.
While he can laugh now, there was a three-week period where the situation they found themselves in was decidedly less humorous.
“It wasn’t so much the electricity bill, it was that we have just had a bit of a nightmare with our rental,” McAndrew said.
“The owner sold it, so we had to get another place at short notice, and I managed to sort one out while the boys were playing a Second XI game in Brisbane. And you can just imagine how much help they were.
“We’d been looking unsuccessfully for a while and it was pretty dire by that point actually – if we didn’t get the one we did then it was the homeless shelter I think.
“We got everything over the line and just needed to sort out hooking up the gas and electricity. I’d done all the grunt work to this point, but Jordy and Jake were winding me up, saying it better be on when they get home.
“They were loving that banter while they were away, so it was good to be able to throw that one back on them when I got the chance.”
When asked how helpful his 23 and 21-year-old housemates were throughout the process, McAndrew had no hesitation.
“Useless. Just useless,” he laughed.
“It’s not that I feel like the old timer, I think I just am. I hit 30 in the offseason and I didn’t think I would ever see myself as the adult, but there you go.
“They are great young lads and it’s been great fun and long may it continue.”
For McAndrew and Buckingham, Adelaide now feels like home, with both becoming card carrying South Australians and going from strength to strength on the field and building a new life away from the game.
It was with great joy that they accepted their new roommate, the new world-record holder after his 29-ball century in the Marsh Cup on Sunday, and McAndrew can’t wait to see what the thrilling young batter will become.
“Jake has settled in so well. He is enjoying the calmness of the group – he feels like he can just be himself,” McAndrew said.
“He doesn’t need to prove a point to anybody, so I think he has enjoyed that and it has shown on the field.
“He has played some really instinctive cricket and that’s who he is. He is an attacking, talented cricketer that can change games, which we’ve seen already.”
Having already debuted in both One-Day Cup and Sheffield Shield cricket, Fraser-McGurk doesn’t have to worry about the predicament that his housemate finds himself in. Having officially debuted in List A cricket, Buckingham must now wait to actually play List A cricket.