I Dreamed A Dream

Ashton Agar stole my dream.  The one I’ve been having recurrently for the past 30 years.  Or more correctly, he lived it.

In my dream I am unexpectedly (to all bar myself) thrust into flannels on the emerald rink of the Adelaide Oval of my childhood.  Who else is playing?  Doesn’t matter, they are all in flannels too, so it must be serious cricket.  My Dad, who was Gil Langley’s wicket keeping understudy, always wore flannels.  Being part of the rebellious younger generation I wore ‘whites’.  What matters is that I am playing on Adelaide Oval.

The dream always ends with my elegant Greg Chappellesque flick to the backward square leg boundary, near where the footy player’s race emerges.  I feel it fly effortlessly off my bat, and simultaneously view it race into the pearl white pickets from my view in the Mostyn Evans Stand.  For I have more often been a spectator rather than a participant.  In sport, as in life.

But the moment always fills me with joy and wonder.  That I am there.  That I have made it.  And then I wake up.  Reordering my brain cells in the desperate hope that these were memories, and not the synaptic meanderings of REM sleep.

AA (as we call him down at the 12 Step Meeting Hall) lived that dream for thousands of us last night.  We marvelled and gloried with his every stroke, in the  way that only great theatre and great sport (aren’t they the same thing) transports us.

Today I wake more optimistic.  We have a chance for an unexpected Ashes victory over the Old Enemy.  “General Rain” has swept across the Squatter Board of the parched WA wheatbelt.   The Avenging Eagle wakes alongside me.  I have much to be optimistic about, and that reminder soothes my natural melancholy.

Much has been remarked on AA’s easy smile, grace and relaxed manner.  What I saw was a man who was constantly in the moment.  Not living in the memory of past defeats; being  9/117;  or “what the hell am I doing playing Test Cricket?”  Not projecting the past into future failures like “what if Jimmy Anderson reverse swings it and I snick it and we’re all out 100 behind?”

Just: “I’m here.  Now.  Bat in hand.  See where he puts it this time.  OK.  Whack.  Good.  Relax.  This is fun.  This is important.  Focus.  Where is the next one?  OK.  Whack……………………………….”

I’ll see if I can live this day; this moment; like AA bats.  Seemed to work for him.  He even smiles when he gets dismissed.

“Lord grant me the serenity to accept that Watto can’t be changed; the courage to play each ball without fear or expectation; and the wisdom to know that my smile helps others to smile.”

I would love to know the sporting dreams of other Almanackers.

The best pieces of writing I have found on AA’s innings came from Andrew Else on the Almanac (Harmsesque), and a freelance writer, Tanya Aldred, on Cricinfo (Carduseque):

http://www.espncricinfo.com/the-ashes-2013/content/story/650403.html

 

Comments

  1. PB

    I think my pre ten year old dream was kicking my 100th on the siren to win a GF for the Tigers, or handballing over the top to win again, but selflessly forgoeing my 100th in the process

    Sure there was a hit the winning runs in a test then suffering a dramatic heart attack on the pitch there too somewhere.

    With AA, as good as all his shots were, I think what I loved best was the flick of the head when dismissed and he removed his helmet, as if to say, “oh well, no worries” Brilliant in every way.

    Aldred article was wonderful too

    Sean

  2. djlitsa says:

    Thanks for the link – great article!

  3. Andrew Starkie says:

    Peter, took the words outta my mouth

  4. Outstanding PB. I had my own sporting dreams. Like everyone I suppose. Dashed most of them were. That’s why I love watching things like AA’s batting. Effortless, youthful, hopeful, happy. He got there with skill and, most importantly, with a true love for the game and the contest. His challenge will be to keep these things. Lets hope the corporate monster that is international sport doesn’t taint his character.

    I went off cricket for a while – a long while. It didn’t mean anything. But I can’t wait to turn on the TV tonight at 7.30. Thanks Ashton.

  5. The Wrap says:

    Ditto Dips. It will be one of those questions asked in future years — where were you when Ashton broke the all time last wicket stand — and turned Australian cricket around?

    I know where a couple of dozen of us were — standing in front of the fire or leaning on the bar at the All Nations Hotel.

    Go you Aussie good things. Put a gap in ’em.

  6. haiku bob says:

    Great stuff Peter.
    I was based in The Hague in 2000-2005 and once dreamed I too was plucked from obscurity, donning the baggy orange for the Dutch against the Aussies! I could not get bat on ball against Warne but carted McGrath to all parts of the ground! From memory, I fell short of a century….hang on….

  7. Luke Reynolds says:

    Loved this Peter. AA is a breath of fresh air this team badly needed. Andrew Else’s and Tanya Aldred’s pieces are just superb.

    My sporting dreams consisted of a dual AFL/cricket career, but after 150 odd games and 2 flags for the pies as well as playing cricket for Victoria at the same time I had to make a choice when Test selection came. Of course I had achieved everything in footy so it was an easy decision. Eventually I am rewarded with the Australian captaincy and after leading my country to Ashes success in early 2014 finish my career on a high as I lift the 2015 World Cup at the MCG.

    Unfortunately got nowhere near any of this.

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