Stalwart still going strong - Gus Underwood

February 04, 2017

Still at the crease: Peter Raglus is attending his 35th Melbourne Country Week, having taken part in the past as a player and team manager.

Peter Raglus was in his element this week.

He was at the annual Melbourne Country Cricket carnival, a ritual he has partaken in as a player, team manager and bus driver for the past 35 years — yes, 35 years.

It would be 36, only for the drought year of 1982 when the Melbourne series was called off and Victorian provincial centres hosted the carnival.

‘‘That’s the only one I’ve missed in that time,’’ Raglus said.

Thirty years was with the former Kyabram District Cricket Association and the past five with Goulburn Murray Cricket Association.

Affectionately known as Rags, the Rushworth identity was the epitome of a country cricket tragic.

At 59 he is still playing the game he loves so much with the club he and his wife Kaylene have given so much to in recent years.

Rags’ old legs are a bit wearier, his eyesight and reactions are fading a little but the renowned competitive spirit is still very much there.

In his heyday, playing A-grade cricket with Kyabram Cricket Club in the early 1980s, he was a member of five premiership sides — four of them in succession.

He spent 11 years, from 1980 to 1991, at Kyabram before moving back to his home town of Rushworth where he has played since.

Rags has experienced some wonderful moments at Melbourne Country Week.

In 1987, he had the distinction of hitting the winning runs for Kyabram in a final against Alexandra which delivered only the second title and the first since 1963 for the Kyabram association in the Melbourne carnival.

In a division two final against the Albury Border side, Rags’ heroics with the ball when he took 8-50 — all of the rival wickets to fall — off 16 overs still was not enough to save the Kyabram side from defeat.

He has been there when Kyabram won titles in the top two divisions in Melbourne in 2001, 2002 and 2005.

Rags does not hesitate when asked who, in his time, are the best cricketers he has played with or taken to Melbourne Country Week.

‘‘Campbell and Newman,’’ he snaps back instantly.

Campbell is former Tongala player Brad Campbell and Newman is Kyabram Fire Brigade’s current champion Paul Newman.

‘‘They are on another level,’’ he said.

‘‘They were both different batsmen, but I wouldn’t separate them.

‘‘They are just both clearly well above the rest.’’

Rags also has a lot of time for former Tongala and now Bamawm-Lockington United veteran all-rounder Greg Pearse, Fire Brigade’s Doc Thomas and Kyabram’s John Hill.

Pearse provided Rags with one of his most memorable moments at Country Week.

‘‘We were playing Bendigo in the division one final at the Albert ground when rain interrupted play near the end of the day.

‘‘The umpires then announced Kyabram would be the winners if no more play was possible.

‘‘We weren’t going to win like that and when the game restarted with three overs to go he went out and smashed 20 something off the first over and we were home.’’

It was the first and only time tiny Kyabram had beaten all the heavyweights of Victorian county cricket to win the title at the highest level in Melbourne.

It is also one of the reasons Raglus continues to make his yearly trip to Melbourne Country Week as long as the body and mind are willing.

Beautifully played, Raglus.

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