Almanac Cricket: 80 not out and still batting

Apart from curating footy art shows and writing about footy, Citrus Bob Utber has been our itinerant cricket minstrel, travelling all over the  world to watch the Australians play. Here’s his latest piece:



I saw my first Test match at the MCG in December 1946, Australia v India (Day 2),  Braddles was not out 57 overnight and my dad had closed the butcher shop in Sunshine so he could take me to the cricket.  Sadly Bradman did not carry on with his innings as he pulled up sore and had to retire hurt. The only time in his career he retired hurt. But I did see him on the field.  Not many readers can say that.


I did see R.N.Harvey score his first Test century (153) as an 18 year old.  It was to be the first of many that I saw from him at the ‘G.  You could nearly always back him in to score runs on the ‘G.


My most vivid memory was the beautifully rhythmic Ray Lindwall running in to bowl and sending the India batsman Sarwate’s middle stump cartwheeling past the keeper Don Tallon who would have been standing at least 22 yards from the bat.


Fiery Queensland redhead Len Johnson was the best bowler for Australia in their inning plus victory.  Johnson took 6/74 in the match but could not get a spot in Bradman’s so-called “Invincibles”on their unbeaten tour of England a couple of months later.  There has always been a hard luck story in these touring teams.


Now 70 years later the game still intrigues me.  Perhaps not as much as it did in my formative years when if I was listening to the game on the radio I was playing imaginary Test matches on the farm.


I am looking forward to this series against India, which by the way I will be covering ball-by-ball from each ground for The Almanac.  I still think I am the International Cricket Correspondent for that august journal.


Looking forward? Yes simply because I belief that this could be the continuation of the fall and fall of Australian cricket.  I believe that India, everything being equal will whitewash Australia 3-0 with one draw.


Australia is not good enough and do not have the mental fortitude against other countries. Picking the team for the First Test is anybody’s guess, who will be captain is anybody’s guess.


Captaincy?  Tim Paine should get the nod although he has many “experts” who believe Carey from SA is a shoe – in.  Paine is by far the better keeper and has anyone note Carey’s batting over the last eight months?


What about the team to face Kohli’s Killers?  I will take a stab with no comments and leave it up to readers to come up with something better that is not biased because you live in that State. PB and Rulebook please note.


My team in batting order:





M.Marsh (VC) – how did he get that job?


Paine (Capt)

Cummins (if fit)

Starc (if fit)

Hazlewood (if fit)



On standby: P.Siddle, S.Marsh


If I have a problem with the team it is the fielding Messrs. Finch, Renshaw, Khawaja is ordinary.


Could this be the “fall and fall” of the once mighty, arrogant Australian Test team?  I think so.


Read more of Bob Utber’s (trebor9994 is his pen-name) writing HERE.


Read about Bob Utber’s wonderful art exhibitions HERE.


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About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.


  1. Thanks for these memories, Citrus. They make for wonderful reading.

    I am pretty much on board with your starting XI. I am reliably informed that Cummins and Hazlewood were “rested” from this series to have them right to go for the India series.

    Our only chance of winning a Test this summer is for a green, seaming deck. Where will we find one of those? Adelaide under lights might have been the best hope, but India put a stop to that!

  2. Citrus Bob says

    Thanks Smoke
    not sure about number 6 in the batting order but if Head can stay around tonight he would have taken a big step to hold his spot. Have always been a fan of Fawad Ahmad and he probably would be a great addition and well worth the gamble.
    What can one say about the Marsh’s – NOTHING!
    We are definitely at the bottom of the Richter Scale at the moment and me thinks it will get worse.
    Smith and Warner – “a curse on both their houses” (with apologies to Will S).

  3. Dave Brown says

    Looking forward to your writing this spring/summer, Bob. To be honest, I’m not sure the specifics of the selection matter that much – just choosing different deck chairs for the Titanic. So much leadership occurs off the field so it’s difficult for any of us to really know who is best suited (although, not allowing ball tampering is obviously a good start).

    Reckon the chances of an (deliberately) interesting deck anywhere when Indian broadcasting $ are in play, Smokie, is a value somewhere between -1 and 1.

  4. There is no doubt what so ever that audit cricket is at its lowest ebb since World Series cricket it’s not out of the realms of possibility that Head could end up captain not having played ten test matches
    ( treatment of Maxwell disgraceful ) disagree re Carey think he is the best keeper by space

  5. Citrus Bob says

    DB – you are right it is only a matter of moving the deck chairs on the Titanic. Heavens know who the new CEO and Mister Howard are going to pick. Unfortunately no one stands out among those who played in the one day series (and there is another topic – disgraceful treatment of the players by CA.

    Rule – I could have backed it in that Carey would be your choice. As for Maxwell he does not perform when it is expected of him as much as we would like to see a Big Vee in the team. Handscomb has gone back to school and performed brilliantly. Though I think you and I could score runs from some of the bowlers that I have been watching.
    Oh for a player straight out of the bush – Bradman, Walters, O”Reilly who has not been indoctrinated by Messrs Howard and boffins.

  6. Citrus Bob I couldn’t care less where,Carey is from for mine best keeper by space and I would have picked,Maxwell before Head let’s be honest if it was purely cricket,Maxwell one of the 1st picked as for
    Mitch Marsh batting four pure stupidity

  7. Citrus,
    I would be interested in your thoughts on the legitimacy of the bowling actions of a couple of the Pakistani bowlers?

  8. M.Marsh is Australian vice-captain: the most absurd factoid of the new millenium?

  9. I admire your perseverance Citrus. Some great names there from the 40’s and 50’s. I enjoy reminiscing about games past more than games to come.
    Peever Roberts Labour Hire (trading as Cricket Australia) only adds to my disinterest. A mate told me that the price of a season ticket to the Scorchers (ho hum) had tripled with the advent of the new Optus Stadium. I guess I will die without having ever attended a 20/20 game.
    The Perth Second Test against India in mid December has some attraction, but seats are more expensive than an Eagles game. Hmmm.
    Only two opportunities to see how the drop in wicket shapes up. A November ODI and I’ll see if Taylor Swift is in bouncy form next week. Marsh out : Taylor in?

  10. What a superb knock by Khawaja in the second innings. Great performance.

    The mighty, arrogant Australians displayed stirling fortitude.

    Now the 2nd test.


  11. Citrus my mum went to Ad oval in stifling heat and Bradman failed unfortunately
    ( I am visiting mum in a nursing home reading the almanac while mum is dosing dementia re old age is shithouse )

  12. Hi citrus – good on you.
    Good on you for holding onto the torch.

    Personally, I’ve never felt more distant from the Australian men’s cricket team.
    Well done Tim Paine et al.
    But something fundamental between cricket and me has been broken.

    I’m giving it a bit of thought. Will be in touch.

  13. Rulebook – OBP – sorry to learn.

  14. Citrus Bob says

    In 3 hours time we will learn the fate of the Australian team and who will play in THE Test. Still betting on Starc being rested and the old war horse P.Siddle to carry the attack from the front.
    David – I share your points re test cricket I am hoping the young Indian tyro P.Shaw will have the crowds swarming to the Test matches this summer.
    Smokie I did raise my eyebrows initially with a couple of the Paki bowlers but overall I think they were legit.
    Here’s hoping our Good Guys(oh no another advertisement) in Timmy, Uzzie, and Finchy lead the way with their behaviour both on and off the field.
    Watch out for Skipper Sarfraz – he cost the “home side” the first test. Another performance like that and it could be his last.
    Still cannot work out the treatment of G.Maxwell. Surely if he was in their reckong for the tests he would be playing in Perth this weekend?

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