Adelaide Test, Australia v India – Day One: Ride on

“In the end we all come to be cured of our sentiments. Those whom life does not cure death will. The world is quite ruthless in selecting between the dream and reality, even where we will not. Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting. I’ve thought a great deal about my life and my country. I think there is little that can be truly known.”

– Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

 

Sun. Sky of brightest blue. Between the wish and the thing.

My twitching and faithful and serious horse called Clarrie Grimmett named after the cricketer called Clarrie Grimmett stands at my shoulder. It is Test match morning and as such he collects me and he flies me and he flies my imagination and my thought and my mind to the ground. He is ready. He flies my mind to Adelaide.

A fog of sorts, a creeping fog. An emotional fog collects now in spite of the heat and in spite of the sun and it collects now in the merest pockets of this flattest state and of this flattest and driest inhabited continent of this Earth. Tears are shed for Phil Hughes. A depth of despair inside these young men deepens again to a subterranean level and the level could be likened to that of South Australia’s Lake Eyre herself, whose floor lies 9m below even the level of the mighty and all-knowing ocean. Such is the power of grief upon these young men.

Yet time waits for no person.

The bell waits for no one.

Between the wish and the thing.

We ride on.

 

“They heard somewhere in that tenantless night a bell that tolled and ceased where no bell was and they rode out on the round dais of the earth which alone was dark and no light to it and which carried their figures and bore them up into the swarming stars so that they rode not under but among them and they rode at once jaunty and circumspect, like thieves newly loosed in that dark electric, like young thieves in a glowing orchard, loosely jacketed against the cold and ten thousand worlds for the choosing.”

– Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

 

Phil Hughes himself is named on the teamsheet as 13th man and his horse shivers unmounted in the morning light while all around the restless mob are stirring. There is a day’s work to be done. MJ Clarke wins the toss and V Kohli retreats balefully into the mid morning shade to collect his teammates. It is a chastening toss to lose for India with a pitch seemingly as full as a boot of runs and a fine fine sunny day needing now to be outlasted. MJ Clarke’s own selection a matter of fierce conjecture and supposition, carrying as he does a seemingly invalided body around the blessed cricket grounds of the Earth, batting, ever batting.

 

And yet ride on they do, those on their Australian mounts. It is CJL Rogers and it is Mohammed Shami who takes the hard hard red nut and sprints now to the popping crease to unleash the first delivery of the New Order. It’s a delivery of guile and swing, well guarded to the last by yer man CJL Rogers. No run.

Between the wish and the thing.

 

And now with a nod Clarrie Grimmett notes the riders of Australia and he nods and he scuffs the turf. Clarrie Grimmett turns to the Australian dressing room, and impossible it is not to notice and be affected by the proud and lofty carriage of his head. He’s seen something. It’s a call to be free.

 

DA Warner is off. He pastes VR Aaron for three boundaries in over number two; cover, backward point, gully. And then in over number three repeats the dose to Mohammed Shami; point, cover, cover and DA Warner is galloping now not under the swarming sky but amidst it and a part of it and Australia reach 0/50 from 29 rollicking balls. CJL Rogers cast as ever in his role as straight man forgets his lines momentarily and drives at one on this the first morning of the first day of a five day match and is out at slip. Suffer the straight man.

 

CJL Rogers c S Dhawan b I Sharma 9 (1/51, 7.5 overs)

 

And horses shift uncomfortably as the heavy tread and heavy lumbering bafflement of SR Watson amble now to the centre wicket. Prodigious power no doubt lurking like hidden tigers in the arms and in the legs and in the heads of these two Australian horsemen. And the Indians retreating. Spreading.

 

SR Watson c Dhawan b Aaron 14 (2/88, 18.3 overs)

 

And carried forward now by their captain and eminent figurehead MJ Clarke who now settles into the lee of the gamboling and helter-skelter rush of DA Warner. Clarrie Grimmett sees a smile and he senses a satisfaction now and watches as DA Warner fearlessly draws the Indians further and further now into the clearing and draws them toward the abyss. He rides bareback and yelps now with the passing of the 100 milestone in a clip over 100 balls and he is truly flying through the blue beyond. Away he goes.

 

The ride and the physicality of the ride and the emotion of the ride now catch MJ Clarke a stabbing truth and that is the truth of the truly hobbled. He cannot go on. Man and horse alike have given much these last days. Afear of catastrophic and avoidable injury were some, yet onward these men rode. Leading his men to the dawn of the New Order a large and weighty task in and of itself. The playing of a sporting contest on top of that, too much.

 

MJ Clarke retired hurt 60 (2/206, 43.2 overs)

 

Ride on, ride on, between the wish and the thing. Captain replaced at the wicket by perhaps captain-in-waiting SPD Smith, with a jaunty step and optimistic tread. The ride is on but the DA Warner is tiring. His calamitous ride of possibility and fervour is ending as it began as he holes out now to deep midwicket and that brave and fortunate rider can now take rest.

 

DA Warner c I Sharma b KV Sharma 145 (3/258, 56.2 overs)

 

It’s MR Marsh and SPD Smith and a sense of generational change to run deep into the last session now, running India square and short and taking enormous lungs-full of air and never retreating, never retreating. Together they accumulate and explode and ride on, ride on through almost 30 overs of the future and into the fertile 300+ ground.

 

MR Marsh c Kohli b Aaron 41 (4/345, 84.2 overs)

 

And the riders sense less than six overs remaining and sense a withered and beaten India and sense a strong case to press on with relentless barreling on the morrow and so send in nightwatchman rider NM Lyon.

 

And yet, and yet.

 

It is the Indians now to ride on, ride on, with their sorry bowling figures and their sorry worn eyeballs, admirably they re-gather and they ride towards the distant hoof-dust, closing, ever-closing.

 

NM Lyon b Mohammed Shami 3 (5/352, 87.3 overs)

 

BJ Haddin c Saha b Mohammed Shami 0 (6/354, 89.2 overs)

 

STUMPS Australia 6/354 (with MJ Clarke retired hurt, effectively 7 out)

 

 

After a drink and then after another Clarrie Grimmett sways back to the River Torrens. Somewhere in that dark limitless sky a star shines.

 

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. 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 is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. “Heavy lumbering bafflement” perfectly captures both Watto and his observers. Snatching defeat from inevitable glory a specialty. He is a handy medium pacer who bats a little in test cricket. #8 not #3. Please – roll on SMarsh.
    Well played Clarrie.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Great to have Clarrie back. Absolutely love your last two lines. Well played E.regnans & C.V. Grimmett.

  3. Very poetic Dave – perfect for the occasion. Hope to read days 2 through 5 from you and Clarrie

  4. Luke Chamberlain says

    Hear hear. Here, there. Beautiful, Dave. Sitting in a library on the other side of the planet where the earth is no-where-near-flat and the sun tries-but-does-not-work, trying to put something together and your words say it. Not the facts that matter, it’s the stories. Always was, always will be. Enjoy the coming days.

  5. Well summed up description of our Shane. He does walk to the beat of baffled drum, yet can shake that off to sharply crack the ball like at the coil spring of NT road train. And then return to the shambled ‘get out’ option. All though he has worked out the lbw foibles. A lot of contradiction in the man…

    Clarrie sounds like a horse that can be lead to water and be happy to partake.

  6. Andrew Starkie says

    yep, he’s lumbering bafflement alright.

  7. ER- probing, haunting, elegant prose more than worthy of the day and its participants. Thanks,

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Of course, Cormac McCarthy’s well known in cricket literature circles.

    Refer his treatise on the Adelaide drop in pitch – The Road

    His prognostications on selection for the next Ashes Series – No Country for Old Men

    His Captain Grumpy series – The Border Trilogy

    But the Torrens ain’t quite the Rio Grande

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Welcome back . Carrie and OBP entertaining and informative as always

  10. Thanks all for taking the time there.
    Attending a day of an Adelaide Test remains a life ambition.

    One day.

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