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Happy Boxing Day

Brian of London here, though for how much longer after this post I’m not sure. There is a cricket match going on in Australia, Melbourne to be precise, and, well, let’s just say it’s not going to well for Australia right now.

Cricket is an odd game. Lasting five days (in the test match variant) and including five full meal breaks and a sundry other stoppages for tea or drinks, it is a specially acquired taste. Even more dedicated are those who quietly follow the matches on the radio.

For them here is a little treat, it is Bill Bryson’s account of driving across Australia in his book In a Sunburned Country though I seem to remember it being called “Down Under” and finding a cricket match commentary on the radio.

“As if to emphasize the isolation, all the area radio stations began to abandon me…Eventually the radio dial presented only an interrupted cat’s hiss of static, but for one clear spot near the end of the dial. At first I thought that’s all it was – just an empty clear spot-but then I realized I could hear the faint shiftings and stirrings of seated people, and after a quiet pause a voice, calm and reflective said:

‘Plichard begins his long run in from short stump. He bowls and . . . oh, he’s out! Yes, he’s got him. Longwilley is caught leg-before in middle slops by Grattan. Well, now what do you make of that, Neville?’

‘That’s definitely one for the books, Bruce. I don’t think I’ve seen offside medium slow fast pace bowling to match it since Baden-Powell took Rangachangabanga for a maiden ovary at Bangalore in 1948.’

I had stumbled into the surreal and rewarding world of cricket on the radio” (pp.144-145).

“Imagine a form of baseball in which the pitcher, after each delivery, collects the ball from the catcher and walks slowly with it out to centre field; and that there, after a minute’s pause to collect himself, he turns and runs full tilt towards the pitchers mound before hurling the ball at the ankles of a man who stands before him wearing a riding hat, heavy gloves of the sort used to handle radioactive isotopes and a mattress strapped to each leg”(pg.145).

“Listening to cricket on the radio is like listening to two men sitting in a rowing boat on a large, placid lake on a day when the fish aren’t biting”(pg.146)

“‘So here comes Stovepipe to bowl on this glorious summer’s afternoon at the MCG,’ one of the commentators was saying now. ‘I wonder if he’ll chance an offside drop scone here or go for the quick legover. Stovepipe has an unusual delivery in that he actually leaves the grounds and starts his run just outside the Carlton & United Brewery at Kooyong.’

‘That’s right, Clive. I haven’t known anyone start his delivery that far back since Stopcock caught his sleeve on the reversing mirror of number 11 bus during the third test at Brisbane in 1957 and ended up at Goondiwindi four days later owing to some frightful confusion over a changed timetable at Toowoomba Junction.’

After a very long silence while they absorbed this thought, and possibly stepped out to transact some small errands, they resumed with a leisurely discussion of the English fielding. Neasden, it appeared, was turning a solid performance at square bowel, while Packet has been stalwart in the dribbles, when set beside the outstanding play of young Hugh Twain-Buttocks at middle nipple. The commentators were in calm agreement that they had not seen anyone caught behind with such panache since Tandoori took Rogan Josh for a stiffy at Vindaloo in ’61. At last Stovepipe, having found his way over the railway line at Flinders street – the footbridge was evidently closed for painting-returned to the stadium and bowled to Hasty, who deftly turned the ball away for a corner…

‘So as we break for second luncheon, and with 11,200 balls remaining, Australia are 962 for two not half and England are four for a duck and hoping for rain.’

I may not have all the terminology exactly right, but I believe I have caught the flavour of it.”(pp146-147).

“…the mystery of cricket is…that [Australians] play [cricket] at all. It has always seemed to me a game much too restrained for the rough-and-tumble Australian temperament. Australians much prefer games in which brawny men in scanty clothing bloody each other’s noses. I am quite certain that if the rest of the world vanished overnight and the development of cricket was left in Australian hands, within a generation the players would be wearing shorts and using the bats to hit each other.

And the thing is, it would be a much better game for it” (pg.148).

About the author

Picture of Brian of London

Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian is an indigenous rights activist fighting for indigenous people who’ve returned to their ancestral homelands and built great things.
Picture of Brian of London

Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian is an indigenous rights activist fighting for indigenous people who’ve returned to their ancestral homelands and built great things.
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