“You’re not going to Arevalo me, are you?” - dialogue from season 6 of Stingers, Channel Nine Network.
Role: Opening batter
Born: 13 October, 1962
Career Span: 1984-1992
Internationals: 3 Tests, 41 ODIs
Key Statistic: 7 consecutive ODI half-centuries
Nickname: ’revaloo (disputed)
Angela Arevalo was a dynamic right-handed batter who established a regular opening partnership with Dorothy Fisher in the 1980s and early 1990s, inspiring team mates to dub the pair ‘Dot and the ’revaloo’.
It was a joint nickname not without controversy. The 2017 Netflix documentary The Pedley Paradox conducted an eight episode investigation into this tortured piece of wordplay, but was unable to determine which member of the team was definitively responsible.
Captain Lyn Larsen was the most emphatic in her denials. “’revaloo’?” she sighed, in a clip that made the trailer. “That’s just terrible stuff. It wasn’t Angela’s name. It wasn’t her nickname. There was some rhythmic correspondence to ‘kangaroo’, yes, but not enough to warrant such a distortion. And certainly not enough when you consider that the nicknaming of the pair was based on a children’s book from the 19th century. It was a bad look - we were trying to establish women’s cricket as a modern game that young girls of the 1980s could get into, like hacky sack or listening to Wham. I was furious about it. I’d love to know who was responsible.”
“I wanted ‘Mango and Dash’,” Zoe Goss claimed. “Ange was always a dasher and while Dot had never shown any real interest in eating mangos, she didn’t have any particular distaste for them either. I thought it’d be worth her taking them up as a lunchtime snack if it helped make the nickname work.”
“The problem with ‘Mango and Dash’ wasn’t just the enforced dietary shift for Dot,” countered Sally Griffiths. “It was that the movie didn’t come out until 1989, long after ‘Dot and the ’revaloo’ had stuck.”
For her part, Arevalo claimed that she and Fisher maintained a simmering neutrality on the issue. “Me and Dorothy didn’t really care what they called us,” she said. “Seemed a little bit childish, to be honest. We were playing for Australia. We had that going for us. A nickname didn’t get us there, a nickname wasn’t going to get us anywhere.”
The pair combined at the top of the order on 39 occasions in one day internationals, scoring more than 2000 runs for Australia at an average partnership of 41.67 for the first wicket.
They had fewer opportunities as a pair at Test level, opening just five times together in three Tests. But they were unable to replicate their white ball success, with partnerships of 11, 0, 2, 29 and 0.
It was difficult to pinpoint why the pair struggled to mesh against the red ball, although Belinda Clark has no doubts.
“It was that fucking nickname,” she said.
Others point to the fact that Arevalo simply never had the defensive technique necessary for the longer formats of the game. The selectors agreed and she soon settled into a lengthy career as a white ball specialist.
Arevalo was taller than many judges gave her credit for, and in cricket writer Jessica Kennedy’s florid words: “She batted with the sleekness of a big, graceful animal, and an attitude as bright as a full moon.”
She scored easily, her back foot shots always an indicator that she was picking the length of the incoming delivery early. Her ability to get down the wicket to spinners was another feature of her entertaining batting style.
Aravelo’s debut came against New Zealand when, after a number of years on the fringes of selection, she was finally called into the Australian ODI team in December, 1984. She proceeded to score a dashing 44 (56) as Australia ran out comfortable winners, securing the Rose Bowl in the process. In a single innings, Arevalo had made the opening position her own and she soon became an integral part of the team.
In the field, she was a dynamo, saving countless runs in the inner circle.
“Mere humans could not hold the radiance of her when she moved across sunlit cricket fields, sprinting and bounding and diving,” Kennedy wrote of Arevalo’s fielding. “Even the grass seemed to grow more gaudy in her wake – not because of any alien nutrients she supplied it, but because of pure gushing gratitude.”
Despite her brilliance at intercepting even the most full-blooded of shots, Arevalo’s accuracy when it came to throwing down the stumps was mediocre. Indeed, she is credited with only one run out from her entire career, and that came when the ball deflected off her back and into the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
In the days before professionalism made international careers a realistic ambition, Aravelo also won praise for her ability to juggle the demands of cricket with training as a police officer.
“People think of Angela as gentle and graceful, and she is – but she’s a tough cookie, too,” Larsen said. “You’ve got to take your hat off to her. It can’t have always been easy for her, being the only police officer in the team. There were a lot of nights when she’d meet up with us after a day in the Police Academy, and she’d be exhausted, and also a bit let down that she didn’t get to spend more time in the nets. And we’d make our jokes, because the movies were popular at the time, and she’d take them in good grace. But I know she was tired of it and tired of us and tired of Steve Guttenberg. Whenever we needed to fire up in a match to make the most of the tiniest of half-chances, though, Angela was always up for it.”
Arevalo gave almost a decade of service at the top level, scoring 970 runs for the national team, at an average of 31.29. She scored a century against both New Zealand and England during her career, and her ODI record of seven consecutive half-centuries stands as a team record to this day.
Her record was seen in an even more remarkable light in 1992, however, when she revealed that her entire career had in fact been part of a successful long-term undercover sting operation.
Aravelo arrested her long-time opening partner on a string of bird-smuggling charges and retired immediately after doing so. It left a top order vacuum that Australia would struggle to fill, and remains the only instance of a cricketer arresting somebody with whom they’d scored more than 1000 international runs.
At the time, the press questioned Aravelo’s tactics of going undercover in the role of a police officer, arguing that surely it would make it that much more difficult to win the confidence of anybody committing a crime. Aravelo, however, was unrepentant. “It’s Poe, isn’t it? Hide your evidence in plain sight.” Then, with a gleam in her eye, she quipped. “Besides, I knew Dorothy was a cocky one.” This sly reference to the sulphur-crested cockatoos that Fisher had been illegally selling to the South America underworld earned Aravelo genuine laughter and heartfelt applause from the journalists who had only moments earlier been querying her decisions.
Aravelo remains the only cricketer - male or female - to be both inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame and awarded the Australian Police Medal for distinguished service by a member of an Australian police force.
On the Face of It (Jessica Kennedy, 1995)
The Pedley Paradox (Netflix, 2017, produced by Richard Crabtree)