From a quadruple hat-trick to not getting a bowl: Gareth Morgan leaves third grade cricket fans hanging

When a local sports reporter told Gold Coast cricketer Gareth Morgan he was going to write “a bit of an article” for the back page about Morgan’s six wickets in an over the day before, the 44-year-old was surprised.

“I said to him: that’s a little bit over the top for third grade cricket don’t you think?” Morgan recalls.

By 9.30am the next day, after 2.5 hours of back-to-back interviews, the part-time bowler for Mudgeeraba Nerang and Districts Cricket Club was doing a live cross with the BBC.

“There was a lot that went on last week that was very bizarre for just a normal bloke like me,” Morgan says.

A “knowledge management supervisor” at the Gold Coast city council, Morgan catapulted from cricketing obscurity to stardom when he took six wickets off the last six balls of a game to single-handedly win a game for a team known as “The Bushmen”. The highly unusual feat is sometimes called a “quaruple hat-tirck” because it means four sequences of three wickets in a row – the first second and third balls, the second, third and fourth and so on.

A week later, and there was added interest in whether he could keep his run of six consecutive wickets going.

Morgan had interstate visitors come watch the game, children wanting to have their picture taken. Some said they had come just to see him bowl.

But they never got their chance – Morgan didn’t bowl in Saturday’s win over Tamborine Mountain.

He had no one to blame but himself, given he’s the Bushmen’s captain.

“My role in the team is not to be a frontline bowler,” he says. “I don’t often bowl myself in that third grade competition much at all.”

Morgan counts himself lucky enough to have learned a few things on the cricket pitch over the decades and sees his role as helping mentor young cricketers in his side as they cut their teeth against men.

On Saturday, Morgan had four deaf cricketers in his team, two of whom will travel with the Australian men’s deaf team to play in Qatar.

“I was trying to give them opportunities, give them some game time, teach them what I know,” he said.

“We’re helping these boys to maybe get an opportunity to live out their own dreams,” he says. “The dreams we’ve all had at some point.”

Dreams Morgan got to live out, almost by accident, on the mature side of 40.

When Morgan talks about his sporting highlights, they are seeing his beloved Parramatta Eels make a rugby league grand final, being at the MCG when the Sydney Swans won the 2005 AFL grand final, going to Anfield to see Liverpool play.

With that six-wicket over against Surfers Paradise that captured the world’s attention, the spotlight was on Morgan.

“As a kid growing up, you think of those moments, you see other people do it on TV,” he says.

“This is as close as it’s ever going to get for me.”

And it was a whirlwind of a week.

“I was at work talking to my boss and the whole day my phone kept ringing,” Morgan says. “He loves his cricket and he said to me: ‘look, go and deal with it’”.

So the council worker took Monday afternoon off to “try and sort it all out”. What followed was a week of talking to reporters from national newspapers, TV presenters and podcasters from around Australia and the cricketing world.

But last Saturday, Morgan had four spinners and four seamers in his team and bowled out the opposition in 28 overs.

“I definitely wasn’t needed,” he says.

Which may have been the right thing to do by the team, but it certainly left a few of the Bushmen’s new fans disappointed.

Yes, people were heckling Morgan to bowl himself.

“But I told them, I don’t bowl unless there is an issue,” he says.

Issues often crop up in the lower tiers of grade cricket, however. With representative cricket this weekend, Mudgeeraba will have to juggle their team sheets and Morgan may be a bowler short in his side’s top of the table clash against Alberton Ormeau.

“If the selectors take a few of my bowlers, I might have to roll my arm over,” he says.