Second Test, Day 3: A classic day of cricket

by Chris Riordan

I heard an ABC Radio cricket promo refer to “the rhythm of summer”. I like that. Cricket on the radio is synonymous with holidays, sunshine…a myriad of memories in which cricket is sometimes at the foreground but just as often is the backing beat to this great time of the year.

It would be very rare for me to sit inside and watch a session of Test Cricket on the telly during an Australian home series- and not just because of the ads and commentators – with the probable exception of the timezone friendly final session from Perth.

But somehow I never feel far from the game.

I reckon “they” have been quick to jump on Test Cricket’s grave this year and too many people want to change the game. It is unique. It has its foibles. It is not for everyone. It has always been thus. So be it.

Whilst experts were aghast at Brisbane’s Test, they tended to overlook the fantastic match in NZ- Bond’s comeback, Pakistan’s Akmal  brothers’ emergence, a gripping finish- and the run-rate extravaganza  in India as they hunt for the number one status on the back of Sehwag’s heroics.

Instead its all doom and gloom. Imagine had Australia been belted!

Three Test “series” tend to struggle to develop  much character but the days of tour matches and a summer’s arm wrestle are forever past. The Windies series has started very early and the doomsayers have jumped out of the blocks with them. Naturally this negativity has permeated to the public. I went to Moonee Valley races on Friday night and, uncharacteristically, heard no inquiries regarding stumps scores or banter reviewing the day’s play. It was only marginally better yesterday at Caulfield as updates confirmed a “road” and a rout.

Today was a classic cricket day here in Melbourne, far too good waste in front of a TV, and I had games to watch in northern suburban Oak Park as the U14s rep teams played practice matches of 45 overs per side. It is a great suburb, not really far from the city, yet with a country ambience, complete with a ute backed up behind the goalposts and a swimming pool adjacent to the two ovals. After 9:15 muster for a 10am start and being coerced in to umpiring, I completely forgot about the Test until we went in for lunch. A TV in the corner of the room revealed the slow progress of the morning as Australia approached their lunch score of 3/255. News of Watson’s second ball demise for his overnight 96 had the kids abuzz and not all of them disappointed. He certainly creates division amongst pundits, many of whom still see in him a fragility that is unworthy of the selectors’ faith. This, to me, is great stuff. For a long time we had such a settled side, but I reckon selection debate and dissatisfaction needs to be a part of our summer dialogue. Watson is the perfect Tarzan- but so many see him as a closet Jane. The Australian limp to lunch was seen as a letdown and probably a result of having not been under any pressure from the Windies thus far in the series. A slow second session, garnered via occasional radio reports from parents as I settled in to my deckchair, seemed to confirm that the Aussies were now getting serious and would grind out their presumed big lead. But when I put the earpiece in, there was an inkling that the West Indies’ players were defying the comfortable stereotype by applying themselves to the rigours of a Test Match. Sammi and Roach seemed to nag away whilst Suleiman Bemm took up a posting at the other end. This giant left arm orthodox was lambasted at times after Brisbane and I thought Perth’s bounce would be his “Roo Yardley” opportunity, but disciplined bowling was supported by fielding pressure and an unconventional suspicion that Chris Gayle had his men on-task. The 4/346 tea score meant we’d have something to listen to at work tomorrow and would give Clarke (62n.o.) and North a chance to showcase their talents against a wearying attack. Most people seemed to be condescendingly pleased at a “real match” but a bit disturbed by Ponting and co not putting this meek side to the sword.

Test Cricket’s eternal attraction flourished in a fantastic final session, much of which I managed to hear returning from the junior’s game, kicking back with a beer and prepping dinner. A clatter of wickets met resistance from a typically combative Brad Haddin knock (55n.o. off 80) before, incredibly, the Aussies were all out (Bemm 6 and Roach 3 wkts), trailing by 12 and bowling again! Gayle and Barath’s 23 in the ensuing four overs, as well as questions about Peter Siddle’s further involvement due to rumoured injury, now has people wondering on this match’s outcome and, hopefully, marveling on the nuances of five day cricket.

The wicket still seems true enough but so much of this game is played between the ears. I wish they still had the old rest day, when you’d bat for the first 3 and hang on for the last two days as pitches deteriorated and different skills became paramount, but tomorrow should be fascinating and let’s hope that the weather allows this contest to answer the questions that both sides are now facing.

Comments

  1. Crio,

    You speak for me as well. I, too, love the rhythm of summer: scores glimpsed from radios posted around the house, the yard, throughout the suburb.

    During this day’s play I was cleaning out the eaves. At the end of my task, I shifted the telly on to an angle so that I could watch it from the backyard while the kids ate sausages on the lawn. Big Benn was angling in them nicely. I liked his combativeness. I wished I had his height while I was trying to stretch up from the ladder and into the eaves.

  2. John Butler says:

    Rhythm of Summer- 2

    From a little farther out of town, other distractions present.

    A commotion from the dogs in the back yard alerted us to the presence of an extremely plump koala on our boundary fence.

    He’d apparently wandered up the neighbor’s driveway and climbed a suitable tree.

    From his perch aloft, he surveyed us with suitable disdain, presenting a rather Churchillian profile.

    Oh, and the cricket. I thought Benn and Roach were tremendous yesterday.

    Nice article Crio

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