Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

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Saturday, 14 January 2006

it's not just cricket


My Mum loved Viv Richards when he was captain of the West Indies cricket team.

She adored him. We kids knew his name before we knew the names of our own green and gold gods of the pitch. For years, a poster of him held pride of place on the back of our toilet door. So whenever the West Indies came to Australia to play One Day Internationals it was a time for this family to play cricket.

Bundled up in t-shirts, short shorts, thongs - of the footwear variety - zinc sunscreen across our freckled noses, and Eskies filled with beer, juice and sandwiches, we went in hordes to the Gabba to watch the mighty teams thrash it out. But as a pre-teen, I knew little about cricket itself. I learned that the cool girls all wore string bikinis, and the cool guys drank so much beer they snored in sight of everyone come afternoon. I knew the names of the wicket keepers who were always my favourite. And I learnt what I thought was my first ever swear word.

Sitting at the Gabba ground in the good old days it was all grass and no chairs and anyone who stood or kneeled or moved ever so slightly it would impede one's view. The great catch cry of the year soon became "Sit down, you Mug!". I thought "Mug" the dirtiest word ever. Every time someone yelled it out I lost it, falling back onto the hard dry grass, clutching at my stomach which hurt from laughing so hard. And when Mum and Dad actually encouraged me to call out to some larrikan with a baggy hat and a hairy beer paunch, I thought I was in heaven!

Thus was my impression of live cricket. As a kid, it was all about the crowd.

So I was interested to see how the game, and my impression of it, had changed as an adult. On Friday, when I went to watch Australia vs Sri Lanka in the opening tri-series One Day International, I thought I was in for a day of proper, mature, involved cricket watching. Eyes on the game. Attention paid to each and every bowl. Ready to laud Brett Lee's fast bowling and Andrew Symonds' all round talent.

But I pretty soon discovered, even for a grown up, that's just not cricket.

Cricket is all about the kids in fake 1970s David Boon moustaches. The rows of guys in matching stubbies, tank tops and yellow afros. The way the local mobile tower transmits the words "C'mon Aussie" to everyone's mobile phone. The catch cries of "You're going home in the back of a divvy van!" and "Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi". Aisle 8 who try again and again to get the mexican wave going until once it begins it seems to go around for ever.

And the beachballs. During the eight odd hours we spent at the game, there must have been fifty beach balls. Because let's face it, with the Nazi ground officials and police are out in purely to grab and deflate every beachball they can get their hands on, a crowd of 40,000 needs that many to keep us alert for such a long day.

Add beer to the mix and the later the day gets, and the less beachballs have survived, we the crowd come up with alternatives. Blown up condoms, blow-up dolls bounce about the arena. Or let's just stack up our plastic beer cups and pass them back and back, getting larger and larger all the way until some poor slob in the very back row gets stuck with a corsatina length of plastic cups twice his own height.

The moral of the story is, anyone who says cricket is boring obviously doesn't know how to entertain themselves!

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