Cricket is now firmly on the agenda

October is usually when cricket enters my consciousness. The month before, when the Swans participate in the finals, has for years been all–consuming, but in 2019, well, I’ve had a month of stress–free relaxation.


Cricket can’t come soon enough for me. Especially the red and white–ball varieties. And today’s white–ball game at the beautiful, recently redeveloped Junction Oval between Victoria and Queensland was just what I needed to restore some sort of equilibrium in my new life back in Melbourne.


The past five months have been hectic. Not being that well, selling in Sydney, buying in Melbourne, renovating, travelling here and there to Sydney and interstate for the footy, moving in to our new house just a month ago, settling in and now being able to call it “home”, and back to working almost full time at my sister’s legal practice (I’m what they call “the finance boss”), has been pretty full-on. But it has also been just what the doctor ordered. Nothing like keeping busy, I say, even though I still get asked, “Haven’t you retired?” My reply is pretty straight forward and simple. “Retirement is when I’m six–foot under”.


I took the day off today, just for the cricket. After all, Melbourne promised its very best weather since we arrived here in April, and didn’t disappoint. The sun shone, the wind was nowhere to be felt, and the clear blue sky simply added to the ambience of the famous Saints footy ground.


I haven’t been there since the last time South played St Kilda, probably way back in their last year there, in 1964. This beautiful ground also has a connection to South, as we played our home footy games there during the Second World War, between 1944 and 1946.


Fitzroy also occupied the space, to play 135 matches between 1970 and 1984, which explains why one of the lovely old Stands, now named the Kevin Murray Stand, adorns his name. I asked an official at the ground today why it was named after a Fitzroy footballer and not a St Kilda player, and he thought it was because someone called Kevin Murray trained there as a cricketer!!


In keeping with today’s commercially–inspired renaming of sporting venues, Junction Oval is now known as the CitiPower Centre, and the home to Cricket Victoria. Everyone still calls it Junction Oval.


We arrived in plenty of time. A good crowd had turned up, with plenty of kids on school holidays. I loved seeing them, jumping up and down excitedly in either their footy gear, or cricket outfits. There were plenty of local cricket jumpers and caps, Aussie gear, and just as many footy outfits being shown off. I noticed Hawthorn, Essendon, Collingwood, Gold Coast, Giants and Bulldogs affiliations, quite a few Richmond, and of course two Swans, being me and Marshall. As we waited for the match to start, the kids carried on the lifelong tradition of bowling to each other in front of rubbish bin stumps, and then some decided the footy season wasn’t quite over, so swapped their bats for the footy. How good it is to see so many kids still coming to the cricket. Hopefully they are as enthusiastic about the real thing – the five–day game.


Sitting just next to the sightscreen, gave us the best possible view in the house. Cheering every stroke, as Sam Heazlett and Usman Khawaja effortlessly contributed 181, Marnus Labuschagne 21, and then Matt Renshaw adding 66, I was feeling very confident. At 4–278 we were on our way, so much so that I hoped for a repeat of last Sunday’s game at the same oval, when we trounced the Vics. Yes, “we” I say. “We” meaning Queensland.


Although I’m a Victorian by birth, I didn’t start following cricket until the early 80s when living in Brisbane, and I now barrack for any team that wears the maroon. Cricket, rugby, rugby league, soccer, AFLW – you name it – except the Brisbane Lions (but I have a sort of soft spot for them).


Living for 20 years in Sydney did nothing to attract me to any NSW sporting side. I usually want them to lose. And Sydney Swans, to me, is still steeped in Victorian culture and tradition, so I don’t regard them as a NSW team as such (although I know of course they are).


This confusion was apparent today. When Vic lost their first (and only) wicket, I gave an almighty yelp. It was a very loud YES to be precise. A guy next to me couldn’t quite work it out. I wasn’t wearing anything maroon, and I had a Swans cap on. I explained my allegiances, but he still seemed confused!


It wasn’t long before we were all out for 304 – not enough, I thought at the time.


During the break I had a tap on the shoulder. It was the Almanac’s one and only cricket tragic, Luke Reynolds. He had mentioned at the Grand Final Eve Lunch last Friday that he might be there, but being a working day, I didn’t expect to see him. He too took the day off work. He was with his lovely kids, Gavin, Joshua and Emily, and two young cricketing mates from his local club. They had endured over three hours of travelling, due to no trains running from Colac, but the bus delivered them safely not long after the start. We chatted about sport (what else!) and went our separate ways, me hoping for their sake that their beloved Victorians might give them some reward.


Before long, it became apparent that this was now the “Finch Show”. Can’t remember how many times I yelled out “Get bloody Finch out”, or variations on that theme. I even bellowed similar sentiments to Ben Cutting on the boundary, but to no avail. The Vic captain just kept hitting them. When his third six came hurtling high over the fence towards my head, I jumped so quickly from the grass I was sitting on, that my broken rib from four weeks ago (another story) seemed to crack yet again. No way was I going to try and catch that hovering white ball – I’ve never caught a cricket ball in my life, let alone one from a big-hitting cricketer – and sure wasn’t going to attempt it today, no matter how much of a sook I appeared to be!


And those sixers just kept coming – all 14 of them. His eleven fours almost seemed mundane, and when you consider that his total of 188 is nearly two thirds of their total of 305, no wonder his team won. Maybe it was a record score? How many players have carried the bat in such a high scoring one–dayer? How many teams have lost just one wicket in such a game?


In the end it didn’t really matter. Qld had lost. Lost badly. And Finch was the difference. I had asked Luke earlier who his favourite player was for Victoria. Maxwell. I said mine was Finchy.


I left the ground not particularly loving Finchy today, but admiring him. What an innings!


I also left the ground in a very different state of mind, compared to when my Swans lose. I love cricket, but don’t get that emotionally involved in it. There are no tears, no hours (sometimes days and in finals, weeks) of joy or despair over the result. No deep analysis of what went wrong, or right for that matter. It is just very, very different. And I’m glad that it is.


As we left the ground and walked the half–hour journey back home through that vast green area known as Albert Park, I was amazed at the array of sporting grounds and complexes. I’d never really explored the area. It is wonderful. And even more wonderful when I came across the Clarke Shields Pavilion, with vibrant paintings covering most of the outside of the building, by artist and illustrator Nick Howson. They aren’t just paintings, they’re paintings of footballers and supporters – all adorning Swans gear!!


The smile on my face was from ear to ear!


Apart from my team losing, it was a wonderful day at the cricket, finished off with visual images of what really gets my heart racing – the red and the white.


Image by Nick Howson


Image by Nick Howson


Image by Nick Howson



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About Jan Courtin

A Bloods tragic since first game at Lake Oval in 1948. Moved interstate to Sydney to be closer to beloved Swans in 1998. My book "My Lifelong Love Affair with the Swans" was launched by the Swans at their headquarters at the SCG in August 2016.


  1. ahhhh Kevin Murray

  2. Jan, what a difference a few days makes in cricket! Reminiscent of Parramatta Eels flogging Brisbane 58-0 one week and then being slaughtered 32-0 by the Storm the following week – a 90 point turnaround. (And it would have been even greater except for some poor goal kicking.) As for emotional involvement, and for me it’s in rugby league, I’m similar to you in that I get really worked up about State of Origin but am less fussed by the ups and downs of my preferred club, the Broncos.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Jan, whatever the result, what a perfect day to take off work for us both to see some high quality cricket.

    I attended the Junction Oval in the early 2000’s and it was in very poor condition. What Cricket Victoria have done there in recent years is nothing short of magnificent. I love taking my kids there, seeing great cricket, moving around from the Blackie-Ironmonger Stand to the grass hills to the new stand.

    The “Finch Show” was incredible. Yes the pitch was flat, the ball barely deviated. But a wonderful innings of controlled hitting. We thought, from our other side of the ground vantage point, that one of Finchy’s sixes went perilously close to a couple of red and white caps!

    A fantastic day. As a parent I hope the school holiday games at the Junction continue to be scheduled.

    As always, wonderful to catch up and talk sport with yourself and Marshall. Hope to do it again soon at the beautiful Junction Oval or the MCG.

    Go Vics!

  4. polly courtin says

    a fascinating story jan of your passion for sport and people with a passion!
    of times gone
    of homes gone and anew
    and of paintings
    go jan!

  5. Thanks one and all

    Ian, what on earth happened to the Broncs in that annihilation, apart from the few blokes who decided to go on the booze/drugs until the early hours of the morning before the game? Terrible viewing!

    Luke, thanks. Nice to catch up again and meet your kids. Yes, it’s a lovely ground for cricket. Enjoy the rest of the season and good luck!

    Thanks for your kind words Polly
    Cheer cheer

  6. Enjoyable read,Jan importantly how are the ribs ? Always good to catch up with a member of the knackery family.SACA have done a magnificent job with the Karen Rolton oval here I spent a enjoyable day there watching the Redbacks on the same day.Caught up with Jake Weatherald at a district game yesterday interesting that the players are v complimentary about these ovals( Jake Lehmann made 188 no also )

  7. Thanks Rulebook. The ribs are healing, fortunately! Not much can be done about rib fractures – just have to be patient and wait. That Jake Lehmnann seems a beauty, and will surely follow in his Dad’s footsteps.
    Enjoy the rest of the cricket this season.

  8. The thought of having to sit through a cricket match – even half a day – and either at the game in front of the box – would test my patience. I don’t know how you do it all you cricket fans out there.

    My hat off to ya!


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