A day in the life of Australian cricket

The over-hyped, slap-and-tickle version of cricket may well be where ‘the market’ is for this national sport, but give me the longer form, first class version of the game any day to provide insights as to where things are really at and where the future may well lie. Yesterday, 17 October 2018, gave us a cameo of just how that plays out.

 

There was little to cheer about from the second day in the Second Test against Pakistan being played in Abu Dhabi. The fighting draw of last week seems a distant memory after another awful batting collapse. The Marsh brothers will be in the crosshairs (again!), and probably rightly so. For Shaun, now aged 35, this must be the end at this level. Surely we need to look to the future, select a younger player and build a new Test batsman. Labuschagne got himself out in the oddest of fashions. Then, when the Australians bowled, an lbw appeal that looked absolutely plumb was eventually ruled ‘not out’ because the batsman was more than 3 metres from his stumps. How many observers knew of this rule? (I imagine that Rulebook would!) This incident won’t change the result of the game but it demonstrated that if it wasn’t for bad luck, the Australians would have no luck at all. (With due acknowledgement to William Bell.) The national team is in deep doo-doo and in desperate need of some good news, especially on the batting front.

 

There were a few pieces of such good news on the domestic scene. At the WACA, Victoria’s 20-year-old Will Pucovski plundered 243 off 311 balls, his second score of 150+ this year. Watch this space. At the Gabba, I saw the debut of Nathan McSweeney, the 19-year-old Australian Under 19s batsman/allrounder. With Queensland at 3/19 chasing Tasmania’s 355, McSweeney came to the crease under cloudy skies with the pitch containing a distinct green tinge. Jackson Bird, Gabe Bell and Sam Rainbird had the ball swinging in the heavy atmosphere and nipping off the track. It took McSweeney 31 balls to get off the mark but he put his head down, worked hard and got to stumps on 24*. It was a gutsy effort full of character in trying circumstances. (He was out today for 35 off 179 balls in 239 minutes.)  Meanwhile, at Adelaide Oval, a flame-haired 18-year-old named Lloyd Pope took his maiden first-class wicket with a wrong’un that gripped and ripped the best part of half a metre to trap Steve O’Keefe plumb lbw. A cracker of a delivery! Pope first came to notice earlier in the year at the Under-19 World Cup where he ripped through England to take 8/32. So not all is doom and gloom.

 

Just back to the Gabba for a moment, what we saw was tough first class cricket. It wasn’t ‘attractive’ – the run rate was poor (about 1.5 runs per over when the Bulls batted), it didn’t feature players of the highest profile and the crowd failed to reach the century mark. But it was gritty, intense and a real test of the players’ mettle. This is cricket!

 

Two other sights at the Gabba, unrelated to the cricket itself, warmed my heart. It’s easy to see the players as professional cricketers because that’s who and what they are, and that’s where and how we know them. But they’re also normal people like you and me with wives/partners, kids and a private life of their own. Not long after play commenced yesterday, Peter George’s wife and two young children arrived. Fielding at deep fine leg, Peter was only about 20 metres away. It was lovely to see the excitement of his little girl seeing Daddy out there on the field; it was great to see Peter responding with waves and smiles. He took whatever opportunities he could to come to the fence to talk to and hold the kids. Similarly, George Bailey’s wife and their two little ones were in attendance also. He, too, took every opportunity to come over to cuddle the kids and give them and his wife his attention, affection and assistance. Call me sentimental or sensitive if you will, but I found these moments warm, charming and important.

 

What will today’s action tell us about the state of the game in Australia?

 

 

About Ian Hauser

A happy, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I appreciate those beautiful moments in sport (and life) that capture the spirit rather than the law of the game. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. I offer a comprehensive editing service for both new and experienced writers. Check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au Queenslander!

Comments

  1. Oh, the Gabba! I miss it. Actually, the only real thing I miss about living in Brissie is the cricket. Just loved going to the Shield games, sitting in the Clem Jones concrete stand, with a spattering of like-minded souls in attendance. Then, after a few years, when it became just too bloody hot, enjoying the air conditioning of the Cricketers’ Club. Alas, I only get to go to Bulls’ games these days if and when they play in Sydney.

    Thanks for the update, Ian.

  2. Jan,

    Not a good end to this game today, Jan, but the Bulls did have something like 6 first choice players missing on national duties here and there. But young McSweeney did look to be full of promise.

    The Gabba itself is looking a bit tired these days – just the passage of time, wear and tear. (Sounds a bit like me!) I first went there in the mid-60s when there was barely a stand anywhere. Australia v England (end of 1964?) with Lawry and Redpath battling in light drizzle. Then a year or three later v West Indies – I seem to recall that Sobers made 36 while a young Clive Lloyd patrolled the covers like a panther.

    Later yet the dog track (or was it already there? The foibles of a child’s mind…), the Sir Leslie Wilson Stand, the Moreton Bay figs…even later on The Batman selling raffle tickets to win a signed bat…the first Shield win in 94/95 – we went on the Sunday…a raging thunderstorm one afternoon that turned the sky black and forced us up to the very back rows, top level at the Vulture Street end…packed out 1-dayers in the heat and humidity…etc, etc

    Beautiful!

  3. Yes, Ian, beautiful memories (which, for some reason, become all the more beautiful as we age!!) The 94/95 final is forever etched. There was no way I was not taking sickies during that memorable match. We flew up there for the Shield Final in 2011/12 that we won against Tassie. In advance, I wrote to the Cricketers’ Club management, telling them about our 20 odd years’ membership, and asked if we could possibly get into the Club for the duration of the match. Yes!

  4. Yes, Jan, the 2011/12 Shield Final was a classic of gritty cricket. I wrote a piece about it for the Almanac. If you’d like to relive it, my piece can be found using the Search facility here. Enter my name and then find my post of 20 March 2012. The conclusion certainly was nerve-tingling!

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