A meditation on this Australia. Australia v India: this near wild heaven

India 250 (CA Pujara 123, JR Hazlewood 3/52)
Australia 235 (TM Head 72, JJ Bumrah 3/47)
India 307 (CA Pujara 71, NM Lyon 6/122)
Australia 291 (SE Marsh 60. Mohammed Shami 3/65)
India won by 31 runs


On we spin and we spin and we heat and we warm and the hottest minimum overnight temperature on record occurs overnight in Darwin and I run along the Merri Creek track and it is morning and it is hot and a tiger snake lies still and lies with head slightly lifted and likely poised to strike just off the track and the humidity is soupy and unfamiliar as an atmospheric river brings water vapour from the tropics on an invisible conveyor belt and our currents swirl and our atmospheric rivers of continental scale run and on they run and move as we at person scale crane our necks to screens and again we touch our screens and again to watch read hear politicians squabble over broken policy broken politics and blink as the discourse of sport dominates news cycles (“Liberals regain the momentum” WTF) to the detriment of long term planning and *touch* we touch we refresh again and behaviours are called out on another celebrity and another and another and whole minutes hours are sucked slurped taken taken spin swirl spin swirl heat warm spin swirl and I run and I run and today I wear a #stopAdani t-shirt and a lady stops me and she wears a wide brimmed hat and a smile and she says “well there’s a sensible shirt” and I wonder about virtue signalling given that the proposed Adani mine is in regional Queensland and yet here we both are discussing this topic about 5 km north of Melbourne and then she says “I can’t understand Labor’s position on this. I can’t understand any of it” and I can only agree and on I run and run though impossible it is to outrun our shared future of split opinions and niche issues and wedge politics and identity and the place of anger the place of compromise and the place of listening and the place of hostility and the place of advocacy and the place of patience and the place of silence and the place of acceptance and the place of fighting tooth and nail with every last fibre of your being for a cause you believe to be right and I run and I run and I wonder about #kidsoffNauru and I wonder about extremism and about online predators and split media and split voices and individuals carving out lives and of Almanackers and of Andrew Starkie and his gobsmacking stories and of Jack Banister and his Walkley award (https://arts.unimelb.edu.au/news/journalism-jack-awards) and of Mathilde de Hauteclocque and her wisdom to name three at random and I think of connection and what any of it means on a planet largely dominated by a species of chimpanzee and its brain but who so far offer no cause for optimism for showing cooperation at a species level. Those creatures jumped the barricades and have headed for the sea, sea.




Troubling times with the fracturing of connection (this is not my country) and fracturing of hope (e.g. #stopAdani) and fracturing of belonging (e.g. this is not my Australian Football League, (Fish Creek https://www.theage.com.au/sport/afl/football-rotting-afl-roots-fish-creek-20181129-p50j70.html) this is not my Cricket Australia (4-0 backdrop at Ashes presentation https://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/raised-fingers-make-for-ugly-australians-20180109-h0fr20.html) and the fracturing of silence as an option as the squeaky wheels get the attention and the “man knows nothing” playing out again and again and the repugnant need to have to advocate for the status quo against proposed developments designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many and the whole tumult mixed up confusion [man it’s a killing me].




And my October rant about Cricket Australia (https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/lost-to-cricket-a-fans-lament/) is answered by many and here is Dips:

“My mother is always reminding me to ignore the messenger (when I struggle with things like the debacle in the churches for example), but to pay attention to the message. Perhaps Cricket Australia is the messenger? Ignore it but love the game.”

And here is John Butler:

“Perhaps I retain a sentimental attachment beyond logic, but I still see great value in the game, even if those who administer it can only see value in dollars.”


And I run and I run through the close close air and I run on soil that will likely be flooded later this week and I run and I think of voice and of identity and of people-pleasers and of peacemakers and of crusaders and of the perils of assuming and of personality and of nature versus nurture and I think of Tim Paine and George Bailey and I think of David Warner and Michael Clarke and I think of Alison Mitchell and Catherine McGregor and of Mike Atherton and Gideon Haigh and of John Harms and I’m back thinking of the Almanac again and I think of personal advocacy and of personal doubt and of Virat Kohli and the role of arrogance in elite sport and I think of writing and of the pessimism or maybe self-deprecation required to write and contrast this with the chutzpah required to then promote anything and I think of Test cricket and the vagaries of the human struggle and of the false narrative of “deserving” which is so blithely used in cricket (e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/dec/11/the-classic-test-match-australia-never-deserved-to-win-and-didnt) or in life generally (as in “they didn’t deserve to win”) whereas there is only the winner won and the loser lost and that is all there ever is according to the flap of butterfly wings from the Amazon and that any effort to overlay worth or not is nothing less than pure fantasy and yes Australia would have been best placed to have a first innings lead (as is every team to bat second in a Test match) and yes the Australian top order could have made more runs but also the Indian bats threw away their second innings and I run and I run and I think back to Australia Cape Town and to DA Warner’s personal meltdown in the previous Test (https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/almanac-cricket-davey-warner-and-the-deluded-toxic-masculinity-of-the-australian-cricketer-a-performance-in-six-acts/) and I wonder about aggression in society more generally and I wonder which traits are glorified in men as heroic and I wonder about domestic violence occurring in the suburbs every day every day every single day and I wonder about “tough” as an optimal trait to promote in a person and I wonder about “honest” as alternative trait to promote or even “careful” or even “considerate” as alternative traits over which our heroes may be lauded and I think of a time when an Australian coach says: “I’ve never known a more considerate person” by way of heaping the ultimate praise on his (or on her) captain and I think of how happy happy relieved happy I am in catching snippets from Adelaide that I once again feel represented by the vibe of the Australian men’s cricket team led by Tim Paine and noticing that that feeling; that feeling that something has gone wrong; and I don’t know how much longer I can take it; take my head in your hands and shake it; is going going still there but fading. Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven).



Whenever we hold each other
We hold each other
There’s a feeling that’s going
Something has gone wrong
And I don’t know how much longer I can take it
House made of heart, break it
Take my head in your hands and shake it
In this, near wild heaven
Not near enough
Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven)
Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven)
Whatever it takes, I’m giving
It’s just a gift I’m given
Try to live inside
Trying to move inside
And I always thought that it would make me smarter
But it’s only made me harder
My heart thrown open wide
This near wild heaven
Not near enough
Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven)
Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven)
Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven)
Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven)
I’m holding my hands together
I’m holding my feet together
I’m holding myself together
In this near wild heaven
Not near enough
Near wild heaven
Near wild heaven
Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven)
Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven)
Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven)
Living inside, living inside, living inside (near wild heaven)

“Near wild heaven,” R.E.M.


And I think of the role of smart arse and of the role of tough guy in life in sport in business in politics  and of where these things started and whoever thought them a good idea and I wonder again about the role of domestic violence and maybe “And I always thought that it would make me smarter/ But it’s only made me harder/ My heart thrown open wide/ This near wild heaven” R.E.M. were ahead of the game back in 1991 and I run and I run and I gather that a difficult time to thrown open wide your heart is immediately following an injury to the heart and I think of how easily cynicism sneaks into view and how sinister and ultimately fruitless a negative outlook can be and I wonder about self-promotion and deliberate mis-representations of others and I wonder about my own path and I watch UT Khawaja and I watch PJ Cummins and I’m holding my hands together and I’m holding my feet together and I’m holding myself together in this near wild heaven not near enough and I notice in Parliament and in the Banking Royal Commission and at the Adelaide Oval the same patterns of petulant behaviour and the same hostile roars of the conqueror and I am glad that humility has seemingly returned to the Australian men’s cricket team and I run and I run and now I am home and I rest on the porch and take off my shoes and I open the gate and the heat is like a physical presence and around the corner bounds our dog. Our dog. She nuzzles me and she looks up at me and her tail is set to wag itself clean off.


Each moment each considerate moment living inside living inside near wild heaven.




About David Wilson

David Wilson is a hydrologist, climate reporter and writer of fiction & observational stories. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and likes to walk around feeling generally amazed. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. I’d never argue that any artist matched the Stones’ run of Beggars Banquet through Exile but I reckon REM’s Green/ Out of Time/ Automatic for the People is a pretty reasonable stretch of form too. Automatic was my point of entry and it’s still among my favourites with Nightswimming peerless.

    Probing thoughts on cricket and its ever restless place in our hearts as well Er. I’m with JB as my bond with cricket is above the regular pettiness of our national side and the often charmless actions of the administrators.

    I’ll be watching Friday.

  2. Thanks Mickey- i thought of you reading this piece below. It was tweeted by Mike Atherton recently.
    Music again with many applications. This time – management. With clear parallels across all of life.


  3. I thought that “not deserving to win” rhetoric missed the point as well. Good pick up ER. Test cricket is a five day grind played out to the death, and if one side wins, it don’t matter how. Eagles trailed in the GF for 115 minutes, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to win, if they happen to get their nose in front at the finish. The same goes for Rocky Balboa in Rocky II. Sport.

    Good tiger snake description. They are out and about. I’m forever telling my girls to be watchful when we’re walking along the river in Warrandyte.

  4. Mind, body, soul of the run. All very much present in this. Enjoyed it.

  5. True and true and true but. It all becomes too depressing and too hopeless and too disabling. I find the best antidote. Blind optimism but not naivety. Gratitude. Making little differences. Whatever gets you through the night.

  6. Thanks DBalassone, JTH, P_B.

    P_B, will you be attending the Perth Test?

  7. No. Well past sitting outside in 38 deg heat. Will spend a little time each day on the TV. More on radio. But fundamentally I no longer value the sport for the time investment. Jumped the shark for me. Just a passing interest these days. Optus is a concete canyon and would be great for night games, but the WA time difference makes that uncommercial for the TV behemoth. Will be at a couple of days of Hopman Cup tennis.

  8. Finally got around to this ER. Terrific read. Overwhelming thoughts.

    I read the best rant I’ve ever read recently. It was a rant that argued the world is upside down. Our “leaders” are following the pack because they don’t know how to lead, only how to indulge. And that’s easy as it only requires a clever slogan. So they indulge without thought and we all know that indulgence leads to a greater demand for more indulgence.

    Maybe that’s what happened to Australian cricket? The players were indulged completely. Cricket Australia forgot how to lead and instead just marketed. Mob (player) rule ensued. The players put themselves up on false pedestals. Cricket Australia measured success against economic outcomes.

    I’m enjoying cricket again. It has a way to go but there is a hint that the Aussies have learned how to respect the game again. If only Cricket Australia could learn the same lesson.

  9. Yes, great stuff, e.r. I read the link via Facebook but neglected to comment!
    A most enjoyable, meditative, contemplative read.

    There was a time (1985 – 88) when REM were my favourite band bar none.
    My favourite album of theirs is Reckoning (1984). So different, so cool, such breadth.
    I sort of agree with Mickey – those three are a fine triumvirate – but there is so much more to their canon.

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