Adelaide Test, Australia v India – Day Five: All In All – Musings About This Last Week of Cricket and Life

I know more about cricket this week than last. I know what a dot ball is (thanks DD for the lesson on scoring), where the “silly’s” play, what “switch hitting means” (thanks Google and Swish and Dave Warner), and why cricket engages us the way it does (thanks to this amazing first Test in Adelaide).

You see, I have been reading John Harms Play On, his sporting omnibus of Loose Men Everywhere (2002), Memoirs of a Mug Punter (2000) and the wonderful Confessions of a Thirteenth Man. I was reading John’s wonderful yarn about following the Australian summer of cricket in his beat up Camira, from Brisbane to Perth to Adelaide, Melbourne and finally Sydney. (The Camira’s trip missed Perth).

John Harms first published Confessions of a Thirteenth Man in 1999, way before Phillip Hughes became our perpetual 13th man. It is a wonderful, humorous tale about John, his love of Grace (long off the scene), his friends, his family, his brothers, and his writing about cricket for the papers while he did a trip of a lifetime to every Test match over an Australian summer.

While I was reading, we all experienced the shock of losing a young man, and the beautiful, moving funeral in his home town, graciously shared with all of us by his family and friends, and the shifting of the cricketing dates, and the preparations, for both players and spectators, of the first of the five matches against India. I read John’s book at nights, dozing off as his car trouble threatened his journey, as weather plays havoc. He writes beautifully about the huge storms that hit at Brisbane at that time. John writes:

“I sit thinking that we kid ourselves when we believe we somehow direct what is happening. Culture is nothing more than that which nature allows. It is as if some force is demanding we acknowledge that, despite the prominence of cricket, despite the marvellous Test we have just experienced, despite the reverence granted to champion cricketers, all is vanity.” (p122)

This First Test had nature interfere, both in the death of Phillip and in the rain for a day, and yet the game managed to flow on to be one of the best I can remember. From the first moments, listening in my art class, with plugs in my ear, hearing the respectfully short and poignant words of Richie Benaud, the anthems, the 63 seconds of clapping which bought tears to my eyes, and then the magnificent batting of David Warner, and later his partnership with Michael Clarke, well… it was just plain beautiful. The reaching of 63 not out and the emotion. The acknowledgement to the sky from Dave Warner on reaching 100, the shock of Clarke leaving the ground injured when he was on 60. Smith’s mature knock. Drama and passion, emotion and skill. Determination and guts.

I pondered over the next few days. I watched on TV, listened to Grandstand on the radio, listened to 774 in the car, followed on Twitter. I cooked and drew, I drove and cared for my Mum, who’s managed to fracture her arm and now is in plaster. (Please, anyone over 60 shouldn’t be bucketing water from showers to gardens, it is one of the biggest causes of breakages and back problems in summer months, other than sports of course).

I watched replays with DD who explained bits that I didn’t understand, and we watched my recordings to see the highlights we’d both been unable to see at the time. We ate and we pondered some more.

We all watched Kohli become the Captain of his team, developing before our eyes, leading the Indians with a century of his own in both innings, we watched Steve Smith become a certainty for future selections, and we watched Nathan Lyon take 12 wickets over two innings. Unbelievable performances by so many young men.

We watched as Michael Clarke came back and batted on, reaching a hundred in the first innings, and fielding on the last day only to injure himself yet again, and now contemplating retiring. I tweeted after he left the ground that if I was his Mum I’d want him to give it away. He’s brilliant, but he has the rest of his life to live. He has come and led his team, and his country, in the game he HAD to play in (for both himself and the rest of us). He led us in mourning, and then in the game, and now he has to look after himself into the future. If he does nothing else in the field of cricket playing, he has earned my respect, our respect, for ever after. He owes no more. He has been a fine Captain to us all, and I thank you Michael. You did good.

I even watched when I waited at a Specialist with my Mum, asking the receptionist to please change the channel from 10 to 9, making others waiting happy – as well as the two Doctors who snuck a look when they could and one even had a cricket conversation with me, asking what was happening in the game. All eyes were on this Test.

My Mum hates cricket, finds it incredibly boring, but the events over the last few weeks at least allows me moments of explaining why it was so significant that Warner got his second hundred, what it meant for Clarke to bat again, and how we were all glued to this game as a binding force. My Mum certainly understands frailty at the moment, and endurance, and the power of determination and grit.

John writes about a press conference with Gillespie way back then:

“He is thrilled to be back and more thrilled to be getting wickets. Clearly, he loves playing cricket. So much, that he says, ‘You’ve gotta treat every game as your last’. It is the word of a man with a dodgy body. It’s a good philosophy. You won’t be a boy forever.” (p169) Gillespie understood frailty as well.

John Harms’ summer back then was the year that Shane Warne and Mark Waugh confessed to chatting to the Indian bookmakers. He wrote of the Barmy Army and the sitting on the Hill and the changes to the stadiums that interfered with just hanging and getting to know other supporters. And the advent and growth of the security personnel.

Reading back about his observations, I am struck by the number of Almanackers who have joined the ranks of cricket writers over this last week on the site, who have taken this Test and made it their own. How in 12 years time, we will look back at what made this time special. In John’s writings of 1999, I see the kernels of the Almanac itself. In both his writing and in his interactions with those around him. In the communication and sharing that sports, and weather allow all of us.

The game was such that all manner of endings were contemplated. A win, a loss, and a draw. The drama of the game was such that all were possibilities. And until 6pm tonight, we didn’t know and then suddenly, it was over. It was done. The celebrations that almost spontaneously happened next to #408, in juxtaposition with an obviously shaken Captain talking about his pride in his team and his uncertain future, a wonderfully gracious Kholi, the shaking of hands between the two teams, a proud Nathan Lyon who rubbed the grassy #408 symbol, and the thoughts of the Thirteenth Man.

All in all, it was a wonderful Test match for us all.

Postscript: It was so heartening that Sean Abbot had his best ever figures yesterday, 6-14, helping to lead NSW to victory over Queensland. Cricket has won over the universe this week at least.


Yvette Wroby

13th December 2014





About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.


  1. Hi Yvette,

    It’s a great piece and I am glad that you gained more knowledge of cricket.

    The news that Micheal Clarke is set to retire is a sad one. I heard the news when I listened to New Zealand music radio this morning.

    My first watching cricket was January 2001 on the Gold Coast where I enjoyed the first overseas trip staying with a local family for a week. I thought the game was too long and unfortunately I fell asleep due to the long flights. But now getting involved in this wonderful community is likely to bring me interests in cricket.

    I hope you enjoy cricket this summer and your mum is getting better soon.

    Take care and have a good Sunday.


  2. Beautiful reflections Yvette. Thanks.

  3. Dave Chettle says

    Great musings Yvette, I think everyone has been taken by the events, I am sure the crowds will be up and the ratings. It’s been a long time since cricket has been the “water cooler” topic. I’m looking forward to the going to the second test on Wednesday.

  4. Keiran Croker says

    Thank you Yvette.

    I certainly enjoyed coming to Adelaide for the final 2 days of the game. Great cricket and great scenes yesterday. Kohli was magnificent!

    Adelaide is now my annual Test, even more so than Melbourne.

  5. Yvette,
    You reminded me of the day I bought John Harms’ book. He signed it for me. That book is now in a box downstairs. I’ve got dozens of boxes of books, waiting to be displayed when the renovation is done.
    Cricket is what made John drive that summer.
    It becomes part of you, if you let it. And I don’t understand why people don’t love it, but I respect their reasons.
    My mum didn’t like cricket either, but as I grew up she got used to it. Now she’ll watch it happily.
    We can all learn as we age.
    I learned a lot about cricket and life and death and our culture in the past few weeks.

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Yvette , you brought back some memories ,watching with , JTH on the hill of the famous come from behind win in the ashes when , Warney triggered there collapse on the last day . The test match just completed will be remembered forever and totally agree re Michael Clarke he has provided statesman leadership , we look forward to , Brisbane

  7. G’day Yvette. Late to this. Great to see cricket is getting a grip on you! Adelaide was a superb Test match. Clarke was statesmanlike as Rulebook points out. Your reference to Confessions of a Thirteenth Man brings back many memories. The lines you quoted capture something of the books intent and help remind me how fortunate I have been to have a family who put life and death into perspective, and a shelf of books by writers and thinkers who affirmed that view. I have also tried to do that in seeking to understand the appeal of cricket and the meaning we find in cricket and other sporting endeavours. Thanks for the discussion. I look forward to catching up with you to talk more.

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