Thursday, 5 January 2012

The cricket's on! Everywhere.

Seemingly endless test cricket matches monopolising the television during summer is a fixture of Australian life.  The languid pace and drone of the commentators hypnotises and harmonises with the hum of the air conditioner or mosquitoes.

The only thing worse than cricket on the television is cricket on the radio.  Trapped in a car on a long, straight highway to nowhere with only the sound of  "clock" as the bat hits the ball, it seemed that the trip would not be over before the cricket was, so we all just had to stick at it in the hope that either the road or the match would finish.

Sometimes interesting guests join the commentary box.  Their purpose seems to be to distract from the mysterious monotony of trying to understand cricket on the radio.  I do remember a pleasant encounter with Hugh Jackman when he took in a chocolate cake his Mum made to share with the commentary team.

Occasionally though, the cricket will suck me in.  Like today.  I've been glued to the television cheering Captain Michael Clark to reach his triple century.  He seemed interminably stuck on 299 runs and I fervently hoped he wouldn't get out before he made 300.  (In case you're wondering, he made it and declared the innings with 329 runs and when his batting partner Michael Hussey reached 150 runs.)

To the non-enthusiast, cricket seems to have more laws than the nation itself.  There are no fewer than ten ways for a batsman to get out and sometimes it's very, very subtle.  Trying to understand LBW (leg before wicket) is enough to make my head spin and I'm not a stupid person.  I've also just discovered, today, that "tea" is not the same as "drinks".

Growing up with male members in the family who are obsessed with cricket meant that when there wasn't cricket on the television or the radio there was negotiation over backyard cricket.  With my brother it went something like "if you bowl me ten overs, I'll play dolls with you for 5 minutes".  Talks would continue until a middle ground of "I'll bowl four overs if you play dolls and let me dress you up for 20 minutes.  The deal is off if you get out and you have to convince Mum to be the wicket keeper."

Implementation of the deal required further discussion.  Would the Hill's Hoist clothesline be the wicket for the batsman and the tank stand hit on the full be a 6?  Or was it better to set up a cardboard box as wicket and include the dog in the fielding line up?  Was over the fence to be counted as out or as a 6? Once these details were settled, play would commence.  Before long I would be accused of being half-hearted in my bowling. My brother would try to convince me that if he failed to hit the ball it didn't count.  Further negotiations would occur and my determination to bowl a decent ball waned even more.

The whole game would either finish in tears or when the dog wouldn't give the ball back.

Then the board game "Test Match" came on the scene.  The game consists of a grass coloured mat representing the cricket ground and tiny plastic figures for the players.  The ball is a ball bearing.  Given that the plastic figures can't run to chase the ball, the chances of taking a wicket are remote and an innings could go on for longer than a game of Monopoly.  Initially I was enthusiastic, dreaming about release from the requirement to bowl in the backyard.  Pretty soon though I was putting dozens of overs on the negotiating table in an effort to release me from the requirement to play "Test Match".

The obsession with cricket extends to adulthood.  I've been in meetings where men have called a break so they can check the cricket score.  I've been in workplaces where the television in the tea room is on all day and people drink more cups of tea and coffee than they ever have in their life so that they can check the score.  Now they probably don't even do that.  An app. on their smartphone probably means they can keep track without anyone knowing.

My five year old niece turned to me over Christmas and said solemnly: "There's cricket on the television in the other room too."  Then she sighed.

"Get used to it. Cricket is everywhere."

She looked sad.

I could have added, "resistance is futile" but I didn't want to break her heart.


  1. I have a brother and a horde of boy cousins, so I played a lot of backyard cricket as a child. My uncle's goat used to get cross if we played in his paddock, get in the middle of the pitch and refuse to move, even if hit with the bat. (That was my cousins doing the hitting, not me. I'm nice :) and I was scared of Hector the goat.)

  2. Fair enough. Hector sounds very scary.

  3. South Africa is also currently playing test matches (although I'm supporting Sri Lanka, 2nd team is West Indies). I don't mind watching and in fact think there is nothing as good as reclining on the couch and taking a nap with the cricket in the background. Afterall no matter how long you sleep for ... its still on when you wake up!