So…as a writer, I was thinking that I would sit down after today’s play and write an amazing piece of reflective writing on the day’s action between Australia and South Africa. Something that would encapsulate all of the swings in the day’s play as Australia heads to what appears an inevitable 1-0 lead going into the decisive third Test in Perth.
On the train ride in from Gawler, I had all of these comparisons about the industrial estates I was passing on the way to Adelaide and the workmanlike efforts required of Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey if Australia was to set itself up for victory.
I even managed to put a few words down on paper, while I listened to some Gawler Central cricketers talk about their play yesterday.
I had good intentions of becoming the next Gideon Haigh or Jack Fingleton, for those of you who have an even deeper level of cricket writing knowledge, as I walked into the ground.
After 45 minutes of play, when Dale Steyn replaced Imran Tahir at the Cathedral End, I made a few notes in my pad about the quality of the blue collar batting from Clarke and Mr Cricket, which reflected their construction site surroundings.
I even had commentary about the ground’s current aesthetics in place, right down to discussion regarding the crane in the location of what was Chappell Stands and how it spent much of the day swinging around and no one actually ever saw it move – an interesting comparison to Test cricket for some.
And then…I met my good friend Beer. I’m sure anyone who knows Adelaide Oval and knows Beer, and I’m not talking about the former Australian spinner Michael, understands what I’m talking about.
It’s not like you lose all interest in the game itself but, despite your love of cricket, it becomes a bit of a sideline.
You have that first Beer and then all of a sudden you see a mate you haven’t seen in 20 years. Then comes the bloke who you last saw at The Parade while Norwood pantsed your beloved Bulldogs in June.
And then there’s someone you met on Facebook, who knows your passion for cricket and is happy just to make your acquaintance and discuss the sport, from one cricket mad person to another.
Then, there’s the people who you actually came with, who you’re enjoying spending time with without any of the usual pressures. Six or so hours of nothing but Beer, cricket and conversation.
By the time you realise it, the game is deep into the last session and any analytical process within you is sitting on the boundary line, being cleaned up by the ever present security.
I was reminded, this morning, of the view that some people have of this great game when, at the Gawler train station (as I purchased the Sunday Mail and an Iced Coffee), I was served by a lady who described cricket as watching “wallpaper dry”; a saying I’d, admittedly, never heard before.
I was reminded of that moment in the 12th Man’s tapes where the taxi driver says something similar to Richie ‘Darrel Eastlake’ Benaud. Richie, in all of his distinguished glory replies, “I happen to like the game, thank you very much”.
And I do. And, even while paying a quarter of my attention to the game, I was able to notice that plenty had happened during today’s play, most importantly in the last session as South Africa ground its chances of victory to a less than screeching halt. But, what I was also reminded of was that cricket is a wonderfully social game.
In what other sport do you have the chance to socialise but still keep in touch with what’s happening on the field whilst not paying complete attention?
The cricket purists, of which I funnily enough consider myself one, will shake their heads at my blasphemous lack of attention to the game due to our friend Beer, while those who don’t know the game will wonder why I didn’t just go to a local watering hole for a drink and a chat.
But…those of us who were there today, or on a day much like this beautiful, sunny Sunday, will understand my story and nod their heads, knowing that their day was very similar, if not the same.
No matter how much they try to change our game to make it more acceptable to each new generation, its pinnacle will always remain Test cricket and its listless days in the sun (and its opportunities to spend some time with our friend Beer).
Long live Test cricket and the socialising opportunities it presents.
End note: I also blame Beer for my decision to sing the entirety of The Pixies Here Comes Your Man, which was playing on my iPod, during the return ride to Gawler.
- This article first appeared on www.wickettowicket.com.au