Ok, let’s slow down for a minute. Let’s just have a look at the bigger picture here and get our priorities right.
I know this has all been about Ricky Ponting what with his most runs, 41 100s and 51.85 average . Yes, there’s the continuing question about our top order’s inability to build partnerships and issues of our middle order reliance on the skipper and his 37 year old mate.
Questions remain such as have the sports scientists taken over Australian bowling attack like they have at AFL clubs. Who’s the most likely batting replacement?
And what about the quietly overlooked huge margin of defeat we have just suffered.
Yes, all that’s fine, well and good and worthy of some conversation, but I think we are all missing something important here.
What the hell happened to my Day 5?!
(I should warn at this stage that I have been to the local $2 shop and bought a few bags of exclamation marks, so will be using them liberally!)
I was supposed to do a Day 5 match report for the Almanac. Day 5! Of the Third Test!! The GRAND FINAL test!!! (I will also be unnecessarily CAPITALIZING regularly throughout)
After Brisbane and Adelaide, Day 5 was going to be the massive climax to a stunning and nail biting series. Those matches went right down to the wire, cliffhangers, people on the edge of their seats, and all the other standard lines I would be including in my piece. Day 5 would decide the No. 1 mantle, be a brilliant contest between two evenly matched sides, with the emotion of Punter’s retirement hanging over everyone.
And I would get to write about it. I would get to summarise, emphasise, plagiarise and contextualise, with clichés dripping like honey and similes dropping like flies, with alliteration all around, with humour, pathos and history, I would get to share the culmination of the series with the Almanac brethren.
So, what about me! (sorry, also picked up a cheap tube of bold, so will be peppering my piece with that too)
All this Ponting this, Faff that and Amla here and Clarke there, I think we’ve all forgotten about me here folks!!
Last week, I got the call. Like Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh in Bull Durham, I got the invite to the Bigs. Cookie asked me to do a report on the 3rd test.
Me. Up from the Magoos to be a match reporter.
Day 5 of the first two tests had been covered by Dips, Gigs and Dowsing. Our esteemed Leader Mr Harms had kicked off the series on Day 1 in Brisbane, and names like Cooke, Dawson, Phanto, Reynolds and the good Lord Bogan had graced us with their views and opinions.
And I would join them. Not with a Shield match, or a Twenty20, but with Day 5 of the GF, the big one, the Thriller in Perth and the Rumble at the WACA!
I had served my time, kept the peace, been the cub reporter, Jimmy Olsen style. I had sat around the Almanac fireplace, listening to the stories from the elders and wise men. I chuckled gracefully when JTH had again pumped up the Cats and relieved memories of flags in recent pasts. I had acknowledged Peter Z’s brilliant tomes channelling Haigh and Arlott, and watched as Cookie in his hat had fired off witty darts to those around him. I resisted the temptation to get into verbals with Mark Doyle and created a mental vision of Dave Nadel sitting Gandalf-like, stroking his beard and imparting historical wisdom. I swooned over Zurbo’s odyssey, greeted every Carlton loss with glee that it meant another brilliant Monday edition of the People’s Elbow and generally honed my craft waiting to catch the selector’s eye.
And it came. Hastings like, I would go from obscurity to opening the bowling. I would be promoted to the 1s, get the chance to shine on the big page.
Like Sally Field embarrassing herself at the Oscars, I thought “You like me. You really like me!!”
So where the hell’s my Day 5 Australia.
(Sorry.) Where the HELL’s my Day 5 Australia!!! (That’s better)
I had been so excited when the call up from Cookie came. They liked my stuff, thought I showed promise, and would I be interested in stepping up. I stopped myself from replying immediately, playing it cool with a response the next day that I thought I could squeeze it in, but couldn’t possibly do Day 1 as I had prior commitments.
Inside, I was a wreck though, and once I was allocated the final day of the test, my mind turned to format, style, inspiration, presentation. Who would I be like, what would I say.
Would it be poetic, factual, humorous, critical, abstract, remote, involved, historical or traditional?
Part Cardus and James, part Roebuck and Craddock, or part Knox and part Captain’s Diary?
I set aside time in the diary for the Tuesday, read reports from previous correspondents, and checked submission deadlines. I ensured cricinfo was working, set the timer to record Ch 9 at home and searched the building for a meeting room with a telly I could sneak into. I ensured my car was downstairs to grab some ABC commentary here and there and hoped to arrange meetings offsite for Tuesday where I’d need to drive and get the chance to listen along the way, taking notes and formulating my piece.
By late on Day 2, I feared that we wouldn’t see a 5th day, but like someone who sees rain on the 7 day forecast for their big weekend, I pushed it to one side sure that the gods wouldn’t bugger my opportunity.
I had already panicked reading Litza’s 2nd Test Day 3 report. The questions were stunning, incisive and thought provoking as well as being bloody funny. I have to follow that? Maybe no one read it though, maybe Almanac readers were busy.
48 comments later, I realized I was wrong, the stakes in the Big League were high and the expectations could be hard to meet potentially. Was I good enough, could I match Dawson, what could I contribute.
I felt like Paris Hilton’s next boyfriend about to enter her bed. I knew what I had to do, I just didn’t know how to make it different or memorable.
So, armed with my enthusiasm, lack of fear and blind faith, I bravely prepared myself for my Almanac match day review and publication.
I’d produce something new, interesting, not too verbose, bringing together different aspects and themes of my previous Almanac pieces into something that justified the responsibility given to me to bring this dramatic series together. It would be a piece that did justice to the event, taking on my roles and publications as coach, comic, father, historian and researcher.
It would be amazing. It would be great. It would be amazingly great!!
SO WHAT DO I GET AUSTRALIA!?
Donuts. Tumbleweeds. Papers blowing in the wind. Nothing, nada, zilch.
THANKS. A. LOT. CRICKET TEAM
Cricinfo is giving ball by ball from the Bangladesh domestic league, Channel 9 is showing the Interest rate announcement from the RBA live at 2.30pm and ABC radio is back to normal programming.
What Cookie and Harms giveth, Steyn and Smith taketh away.
I couldabeen a contender, I couldabeen somebody.
No Day 5. No match report. No Almanac glory.
Not happy Jan.