Almanac (Big Bash) Cricket: NYE in Adelaide Oval’s Bay 134

Is there anything more disappointing than a soggy pie?

No, there’s not. The expectation of firm pastry and the meaty joy within was instantly ruined. No sooner in his seat and having slid his pie from its bag, it collapsed in our eldest’s lap like a Home and Away extra during a Summer Bay disaster.

Our members’ tickets are in Bay 134, at the bottom of the Fos Williams Stand, and about six rows from the fence. At about backward point it’s a top spot.

With noise and music and fireworks and the ceaselessly moronic countdown our innings begins courtesy of the hoopla-free off-spin of Johan Botha. He played for the Strikers and the Redbacks, but is now with the Sixers. Every confected cricket event needs a villain, and Botha swishes his black cape for the crowd.

The civilised world’s favourite sporting Hodge opens briskly, as does his partner Jake Weatherald. We progress at a goodly clip, and when Dunk comes in he takes seventeen from one over of former wig salesman and current outlaw-bikie impersonator, Doug Bollinger.

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Is it possible to drown the week between Christmas and New year’s with too much cricket, both televisual and backyard? With Alex and Max receiving a cricket set and some Zing bails, we’ve gone close.

Balls have lobbed over the northern, eastern and southern fences and into the neighbours’ like F- bombs in a Tarantino flick. Our house is on the western side of the modest backyard and balls: tennis, rubber and various assorted have cascaded down into the gutter like stones across a holiday-camp lake.

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Brad Hodge (at 42, the competition’s second oldest Brad) holes out, and to the wicket sprints Travis Head, hero of last year’s corresponding fixture. But his lean tournament continues and he’s rapidly back in the sheds.

Looking like a participant in a slo-mo beer advertisement is Jake Lehmann and he then takes careful block and three balls later is bowled for zero. Perhaps next time they should strap a set of pads to his moustache and just send it out for a slog.

When his stumps are disturbed and the bails flash and dance, the hoardings and screens light up with animated Zooper Doopers and I’m suddenly aggrieved for the great loss of 2016. Bowie? Cohen? Prince? Bah. Hang your head for the demise of the great summery ice-treat, the Sunnyboy.

I know the between-balls musical stabs are highly orchestrated, like elevator muzak and shopping centre soundtracks, but tonight’s seems improved with Wilson Pickett’s “Land of a Thousand Dances,” and The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy.” A highlight is “Shout” by the Isley Brothers, although for me and many of my generation the iconic version of this 1959 classic is by Otis Day and the Knights, as performed during the toga party scene in Animal House.

The sun sets beyond the Chappell Stand and the Strikers go to sleep before Pollard and Jordan rescue the situation with some controlled bludgeoning. It’s a beautiful batting deck and I reckon we’re about twenty runs short. For the Sixers Sean Abbott is impressive taking a Michelle.

*

Human creativity is eternally astonishing, and our boys find limitless ways to argue on the backyard pitch. A couple times this last week some cricket has even broken out between them. Mates who’ve brothers tell me it’s common.

Over Christmas lunch I ask Mum about my childhood cricket. “You’d come home from primary school and play every afternoon with Brett.” Brett was two years older and lived down the road. “Did we argue?” I ventured. “Like cats and dogs,” Mum replied, “You never stopped.” I was instantly reassured. I was normal.

During the break, there’s a win $500 if you take a catch competition for those caught on camera with a KFC bucket on their bonce. It’s criminally inadequate compensation. However, the security guard/cult hero from the Strikers’ first home game joins in, and with his final attempt completes a nice overhead grab. It’s no John Dyson on the SCG fence in 1982, but still, it’s tidily done. We loves it. If KFC was available at Adelaide Oval I’d buy thirty-eight pieces, inhale them and wipe the grease through the hair of my loved ones.

*

Hughes and Roy (Surrey import, not Slaven) get the visitors away brightly, but then the wickets fall regularly. Lanky Queenslander Billy Stanlake bowls with pace and penetration taking three, including that of Brad Haddin, who in stomping on his stumps, appears to have taken his midnight cups prematurely.

Test discard Maddinson arrives and departs limply. His year concludes bleakly, but with national selection logic proving impenetrable his two from eight deliveries may be sufficient to earn him a recall or a position on Turnbull’s front bench.

With O’Connor and Laughlin operating in tandem the Strikers are attacking with Anglicized forms of Gaelic, and this is effective as they snare four collectively. “Jump Around” by House of Pain, everyone’s beloved Irish hip hop collective (if LA’s a Belfast suburb) blasts out and O’Connor takes a sharp return catch from Abbott to make it seven for not-nearly-enough.

When the wickets aren’t tumbling, the bowling is so economical there’s more dots than a Morse Code Festival (email me for details). Like octogenarian Port Power fans clapping every single fecking disposal the crowd now applauds each maiden delivery. Our boys are really excited.

Sixer Sam Billings swots a couple into the western stand named for benefactor and KFC-devotee, Sir Edwin Thomas Smith, but with his departure the required run-rate accelerates like Zimbabwean inflation and the game is over.

Doug doesn’t even get to face.

*

A few years’ ago, during the Boxing Day Test our eldest began shrieking from the lounge. “Dad. Dad! Come quick!” I burst in. What was happening? What had I missed? “What is it?” Alex looked up at me, his toddler’s eyes wide. “Dad, Peter Siddle’s about to bowl!” Ah, the enthusiasms of the child. Not many could get excited by that.

Not even Mrs. Siddle.

*

In our car, we venture home and into the new year.

 

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About Mickey Randall

Late afternoon beer, Exile on Main St playing. Sport like cricket, most types of football, golf, squash, horse racing. Travel, with Vancouver my favourite city, but there’s nowhere I’ve not happily been. Except Luton. Reading. Writing about family, sport, music, the stuff that amuses me. Conversation. Wit. Irony. McLaren Vale cabernet sauvignon, Barossa shiraz, Coopers Sparkling Ale. Jazz and especially Miles Davis. Lots and lots of music. I live in Adelaide with my wife Kerry-ann and our boys Alex and Max.

Comments

  1. Best thing I have read in 2017. Loved it (the piece – not the game). You could extract joy from a Mormon funeral, Mickey.

  2. Luke Reynolds says:

    Great work Mickey. What a wonderful atmosphere it looked in Adelaide last night.
    We’ve gone close to drowning in cricket since Christmas, there’s worse things you can drown in! Plenty of arguments between my two boys playing cricket at home too. Good to hear it happens elsewhere.

  3. Nice one Mickey. I enjoyed watching the BBL while in Aus and William was getting into it and wanting to hit the ball. Maybe next year a game will be part of the itinerary.

  4. Thanks PB. Appreciate your thoughts, as always.

    Cheers Luke. Don’t you love it when there’s arguments about who started the arguments about who started the original argument? We had a cricket-free afternoon today and went down the beach. They used to call these “rest days” I believe!

    Thanks Djlitsa. I can recommend it. The kids seem to love it and the serious cricket fan obviously sees it from the perspective of their choice. Everyone wins! I got the boys into a coaching clinic on Adelaide Oval before next Friday’s game against Hobart- should be fun for all. Have a beer for me next time you’re in the Boomarang!

  5. Gold Mickey loved the pie and summer bay part in particular.I was with Mick Weatherald( Jakes uncle and father of Tim and Lucy one of Tim and Marnies 4 girls ) and enjoyed the game and there company enormously while I can take or leave 20 20 cricket in general it was sort of nice to win but give me Shield cricket any day.The most bewildering cricket decision of the summer is Chadd Sayers not given a bbl contract by any side fair dinkum I reckon he could bowl better than,Lawford left handed.I hope the banana benders play,Stanlale in the future his height and bounce has a future.What ever us cynics think of 20 20 it has well and truly captured the wider audience surely marketing gurus can come up with something to get a bigger crowd to shield games and as a shield regular I still reckon I should be able to sit where ever I like

  6. Dave Brown says:

    Many laughs! It was a fun night Mickey (we were up the top in whatever stand it is at the north eastern end (they need to put the names on the inside of the roof)). While the cricket was not great the outcome was acceptable and the fireworks, as always, great. Post match entertainment a bit of a fizzer, pointed towards half empty SACA members, their back to the Strikers members. Time to remove NYE game from SACA membership and give them preferential access to tickets instead so we can actually get 50k in.

  7. Malcolm- I reckon Shield cricket needs to be played at suburban grounds more frequently. Just as the Bushrangers rarely play at the MCG the Redbacks should get out and about to Glenelg and even to some country venues, like Port Lincoln. This has to be better than an empty Adelaide Oval.

    Stanlake looks handy and bringing ’em down from 6 foot 8 always provides difficulties as B. Reid and J. Garner demonstrated. I wish him well, and urge him to relocate to Bondi as soon as possible.

    Dave- Agreed. There were several thousand seats available in the upper deck of the Chappell Stand while the Riverbank seemed full.

    On the quality of international stadia, as we vaguely were, I read that folks attending the San Francisco 49ers new arena at Santa Clara are bemoaning the NFL’s most expensive beer- 16 fluid ounces for a tenner, which compares unfavourably to our city’s ground. But the question remains: would you rather American beer or West End draught? Sorry to lower the tone of your evening!

    Thanks men. Typing this as the Strikers’ batting performance again seems to be considerably below par.

  8. Ben Footner says:

    I’ve got two younger brothers. There were 3 main flash points during our childhood:

    a) the cricket pitch – both brothers were significantly better than me at sport, resulting in me having long periods in the field punctuated by the briefest of innings with the bat;

    b) the gaming console – arguments either around who’s turn it was, or the brothers who were good at sport, also being good at bloody computer games;

    c) the monopoly board – once again, the brothers who were good at sport, and good at bloody computer games, also seemed to be good at freaking board games. Rarely was a game of Monopoly plated through!

    You’ve brought back some dark memories there Mickey, apart from being the oldest I didn’t have a lot going for me in the sibling rivalry stakes! :-/

  9. Ben- thanks for the insights into male siblings.

    The boys also received Monopoly for Christmas; indeed the Adelaide version featuring Rundle Mall, Coopers Brewery, and somewhat curiously, the Hahndorf Farm Barn. Lovely as it is I remain unconvinced by its inclusion. As you suggest there’s been fierce rivalry here too, interspersed with unstrategic gestures of generosity such as giving your brother unsecured loans to keep him in the game.

    While I’ve read little on the benefits of healthy sibling competition I was heartened last week as we walked through Harbour Town- also on the Monopoly board- when they spontaneously held hands! Whew.

    Cheers Ben.

    PS- all reports suggest every single member of the Crows squad “training the house down!” Who’d have thought?

  10. Ben Footner says:

    January reporting in the local chip wrapper suggests they “can win the flag in 2017” too! Amazing stuff!

  11. Rick Kane says:

    Another classic MR.

    You didn’t need to stick the pin in the mighty Hawks captain but I’ll let that one go through to the keeper.

    So many great one-liners and observations. The shout out to Otis Day was noted. And the wiping grease through your loved ones hair was laugh out loud stuff.

    Young O’Connor is a friend’s son.

    Cheers

  12. Thanks Rick. While Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny shared some confusion over which season it was, you know that it’s always Hawks season.

    I learnt that for many years Otis Day and the Knights toured as a legitimate band with Robert Cray on bass in their early days. He’s in the film too.

    We’re off to the cricket again tonight, but with the temperature just under forty it’ll be close early on!

    Unchanged side too so young O’Connor gets another crack.

    Cheers.

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