I cannot remember a Christmas barbecue between 1983 and 1992 that didn’t include a hit of backyard cricket1. I cannot remember a Christmas barbecue in the past twenty years that didn’t centre around a debate about the Australian XI. Even with strangers, cricket was lingua franca.
On Saturday I caught up with some old friends from CBC Warrnambool at a mate’s place for Christmas dinner2.
As the afternoon unspooled, the following topics were discussed.
1. Mick Matlthouse
2. The inequity of the AFL draw (sub-section: should this even be a concern?)
3. Vegetable growing
4. Collingwood players – they’re all on drugs3 All of them. Well, except for Daisy Thomas, he’s okay.
5. House renovations
6. Essendon’s lack of ‘A-graders’
7. The downsides of having daughters who are huge fans of One Direction.
8. The competent and not-so-competent Christian brothers we were taught by 4
9. Van Halen’s 51505 (sub-section: conceding that the David Lee Roth v Sammy Hager debate has long been settled, was this Sammy Hager’s Van Halen debut his finest moment?)
11. Nespresso machines>
12. Different methods of serving oysters 6
13. The NBA 7
14. A declining interest in the EPL
Only after Batman did we quickly touch on Phil Hughes, before someone thoughtlessly mentioned that David Zaharakis was an ‘A-grader’8.
Cricket may have been discussed over dinner, but all I can remember is the various tales about the number of different wines we were drinking9.
It perhaps would have been discussed after dinner if it weren’t for a guitar and a drunken 1-hour set featuring Paul Kelly, The Black-Eyed Peas and Mike Brady10.
It may have been discussed on the way home, but I slept11the entire way.
It was supposed to be discussed on Sunday as I was restored on to write on day three of the First Test against Sri Lanka.
That it was ‘supposed to be’, suggest that it was not.
1. I was very slow to start the morning. Very slow.
2. Boston was playing San-Antonio in the second leg of their back-to-back on the road… and playing badly.
3. We were out of yoghurt.
4. The Bourne Legacy was now available on Foxtel On Demand, and I was away when it was on in cinemas here.
5. I had not touched a weekend paper, including an article by Gerard Whateley,Think Before You Big Bash.
I was a little worse for wear to take in the nuances of Gerard’s article, so all I could pick up was:
1. It’s just not cricket… but it’s good for the game.
2. He committed one of what I consider to be one of the greatest sins in sports writing, and that is using The Mighty Ducks as a pop-culture reference 12.
3. The masses just want to be entertained.
And here’s my point on sport and entertainment.
In order for a game to be entertaining, it has to be competitive; in order for the game to be competitive, the outcome has to matter.
On this definition, the Big Bash is not entertaining; and many would argue with me here, but I would suggest the First Test against Sri Lanka is not entertaining13.
I’m aware that the outcome matters a lot for Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes and Ben Hilfenhaus and for those who love Test Cricket of any hue, but for me I am really struggling to care. And just struggling in general, to be fair.
So, all I can tell you about day three is that the game is pretty much where we expected it to be. Australia has a handy first innings lead, and as the pitch starts to look more and more like Roger Daltrey’s chest14, I’d suspect they’d finish day four with a sizeable lead and Sri Lanka two or three wickets down by stumps.
Apologies for my apathy, maybe it’s not the cricket. Maybe it’s just because I’m
E) All of the above
1. None more memorable than an innings in 1988, facing a freshly taped tennis ball on a concrete driveway with a cavernous crack on a good length to the left-hander.
2. For the past five years these have been the sorts of dinner that start over a few beers at two in the afternoon and finish at three in the morning.
3. Okay, this is a facetious comment and like most of the newspaper reporting on the issue, none of it is based in fact.
4. Thankfully this incompetence was limited to ineffectualness in the classroom.
5. Dreams and Why Can’t This Be Love deserve their place at the top a Van Halen’s long and impressive canon of work.
6. Wasabi and lemon juice perhaps being the best.
7. This would usually be higher up in the order of conversation, but Boston had just blown their first game of a double-header on the road against Houston.
8. So we’re clear, Phil Hughes is more David Zaharakis than Batman.
9. It has become a tradition that we each bring a bottle of wine to the dinner and tell a story about it. Over the years the quality of the stories has increased dramatically – to the point were I will start workshopping my 2013 story in front of focus groups in March-April next year.
10. Unfortunately we didn’t even get to the chorus of Up There Cazaly due to a table, a handstand and a gash above the right eye that may require stitches.
11. Technically I may have ‘passed-out’, but I’m running with ‘slept’.
12. You can make the same point with the vastly superior Bad News Bears (old or new version. Walter Matthau and Billy Bob Thornton > Emilio Estevez)
13. If Malinga was playing, than that might help shift the balance.