RM Metzler

At the Shires Dinner on May 14, 2010, Mark Metzler was officially inducted as a Legend of Shires. His daughter Pauline and grandson Stuart attended the function and Stuart proudly accepted the nomination on Mark’s behalf. Mark was a valued clubman and Life Member of Lane Cove Cricket Club and he is one of only two Covies to have scored more than 10,000 runs, and he still holds the record for the most centuries by any Lane Cove batsmen with 13.

Mark Metzler – Lane Cove’s newest Legend of Shires!

The following excerpt was taken from the Lane Cove Centenary book:

rm metzler

Mark Metzler shows how to hook.

Throughout his long career Mark Metzler always took the umpire’s decision in style.

Even when he knew he was not out the only sign of dismay he gave was a second, sharper look at the umpire. When no change of mind was indicated from that direction he would say “fair enough”, take one little skip toward the pavilion and walk off quickly with a smile, bat under arm.

Sometimes, perhaps, he would indulge himself on the way back with a short resume of what had actually occurred at the wicket. But it was not comment intended for anyone’s ears but his own.

When he knew he was out, and was given out, he would compliment the bowler or fieldsman on his way past.

Metzler loved batting too much to have any innings spoiled by a display of ill-temper. His love of batting was, if anything, greater than John Dettmann’s, hence his continuing to play so late in life. In Lane Cove’s 100th year, aged seventy five, Mark opened the batting for the N.S.W. RSL XI against Victoria, scoring 47. Like Dettmann he gave no thought to his ever-diminishing average. To be able to bat was all that mattered, the contest between bat and ball. Although when he was nearing 10,000 runs for the club he, understandably, got a little edgy. Indeed the whole team (the C2’s of 1973-74) shared his nervousness as he took 9 or 10 innings to get that last 50.

Unlike Dettmann, however, Metzler’s real love of the game began and ended with batting. Certainly he was a good field, sharp in his youth, safe in his later years. But fielding was something you “had to do” in order to get a bat. Often, when deep into an opposition’s innings, his mind could be seen to wander a little, dreaming no doubt of the innings to follow. Bowling was strictly a “no-no”. After 45 years of playing for Lane Cove his bowling figures were one wicket for 99. One suspects he had to be talked into the handful of bowling spells that made up those statistics. Mark saw bowling as “taking up with the enemy”. Bowlers were to be overcome, not joined up with. Until he reminded himself that you had to get the other team out before you got a bat. Then he tolerated others doing that job for him. No-one remembers Metzler ever asking for an over or two.

Arriving at the batting crease he was full of anticipation. He took guard carefully, as if staking out a territorial claim for the afternoon. Then, just as carefully, he would examine each section of the field, as if scanning the horizon for enemy troops in his army days. Suddenly he was ready, bat tapping twice, the bowler receiving his full attention. Finally he would say, sometimes to himself, sometimes out loud, “all right fella, let’s see what you’ve got”.

The challenge that followed was the joy of the game for Metzler. He tried to sum up the bowler in those first few overs, looking for the deliveries that he must take care with, looking for the balls he knew he could score from. In his prime his own stroke repertoire was such that wherever the bowlers pitched loose ones he could get them away. He loved nothing better than working the ball around the ground, defeating the field-placing of the opposition captain and bowler. His strokemaking was of a tradesman’s variety compared with a Hiddilston or a Hollander but that was because his objective was always to have bat meet ball in the most-effective way possible. To guide the ball where he wanted it to go. Making it look good was not Mark’s concern. He preferred square of the wicket, either side, but he could back-cut and glance easily, too. In his younger days he liked to drive as much as anyone but in later years the off-drive was more likely to skew off through cover or point and the on-drive became a pull.

From beginning to end, each innings was a personal challenge. It was one on one. Every ball was a victory or a defeat. Or perhaps a draw. But that is not to suggest that he wasn’t a team player. Indeed his quality in a crisis was his most endearing feature. Time after time, through 4 decade, if his team was in trouble, it was Metzler who rescued it. Such occasions, you see, were when the challenge reached its most exciting proportions, when the adrenalin flowed most freely. If successful, as he so often was in such circumstances, then these innings were Mark’s happiest.

Each year his determination to stay at the crease seemed to grow stronger. The feet moved even more in front of the stumps, the shoulders became even more “square-on” to the bowler, the dead bat dropping the ball more surely in front of him. More than ever his defence was exemplary.

Six times Metzler scored over 500 runs in a season, a record he is rightly proud of because only two other Lane Cove batsman have done it – Arthur Campbell and Ivo Hiddilston. In total he scored 12,375 runs for the club, seven of them in its 100th year. His average of 25.46 was the sixth-highest among the top scorers. Twenty years ago it stood at 33, second only to Arthur Campbell. He still holds, with John Hollander, the club and A Shire record fifth-wicket partnership of 263 made in 1956-57. In those days he was also Lane Cove’s David Boon, taking many sharp chances sitting on the bat at silly-leg.

Mark Metzler scored more centuries than any other Lane Cove batsman. He looked after the juniors at Longueville for many, many years including last year.

He served as a captain, a delegate and a committeeman time and again and was a Life Member in 1981.

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