Cricket. Radio.

Cricket. Radio.

 

The rain came last night. Up on the mountain, near 3am, my shack shook with thunder while I was working on the Noel McMahen interview. By God, the things he said! About Norm Smith and Peter Box and Teddy Whitten and loyalty. It was almost like he drew all that power and turbulence through the night. Give me a tough backman who shoots as straight as he played. His stats as a Melbourne Premiership captain and Team of the Century player are nothing on the way he wears himself, his pride. In what he has to say.

The thunder got so bad even my husky cross came in near dawn.

 

Now, I’m in my ute at my club, down in the valley, waiting in front of this flat oval of green in a sea of mountains. It almost doesn’t look right, and won’t do until players are on it. What was spitefully dry, full of cracks, a week ago, can now absorb players on the wain.

Soon, the boys will be rocking up for a Thursday night intra-club match. While I wait, the cricket’s on the radio. If ever a thing inspired imagination it’s those two words.

Cricket.

Radio.

The good commentators weave time. They make days, hours, minutes flow into each other. They paint pictures of moments and speak in a language that excites and breaks hearts and feels like home.

Oh-ho! Maxwell’s out! Shitte. Or so the radio says. There’s still barracking to be done, but him and Warner, their power is our joy. Their momentum is something we ride, like Greg Norman in his prime, hitting drives clean over neighbouring holes, turning boomerang-shaped 5 pars into 2s. Like Tyson wrapping up fight after fight in the second or third.

Smith is correct. We admire him. But Maxwell and Warner play like unstoppable bad boys.

One of the commenters mentions getting to the final…

 

After training a few nights ago, I went around to young teammate Max’s place, joining him around the oil drum fire while his old man worked in the shed. I had some message to drop off, some tool to pick up, but we watched the last ten overs of New Zealand versus South Africa. Max was barracking for the South Africans. He must have been mad. “What about the underdogs!” I protested.

Max’s dad agreed with me. I guess I’m more that generation, than his son’s.

New Zealand proposes a moral dilemma for us old school Aussies who believe in a national identity forged on steadfastly laconic principles. Who were raised taking pride in the fact we were always working class, a small bunch of whackers on a big, little island, taking on the world. But we’re six times larger and more populated than New Zealand, and things have changed. We now have 100 times the money they do. Cricket schools and academies. We’re the overdogs, the Americans of this tale.

If we truly love the working class underdog, as our national identity demands, who do we barrack for? Australia or New Zealand?
Ha!
And, to make it worse, it’s up to Watson to get us there.

Oh! Maybe not! “A WICKET GOES DOWN!” Feh, it was Clarke. Haha.

With the footy book transcribing and bush work, this World Cup has been snippets of airwaves for me, and in that, I already have my highlight.

Ireland were playing Zimbabwe, from memory. There was an Irish commentator in the booth with Gerard Whateley.

I’ve got friends that speak the world of Gerard, but as a commentator I don’t like him. At all. He’s a package. A commodity. Everything he righteously says is down indignant company lines. He has perfect tonsils, delivers perfect excitement, with no grist, no soul.

It looked like Zimbabwe were going to win, the game was on the line. One of their players hooked high and deep. It was going to be six or out…!

The Irish captain caught it on the line!
The Irishman said: “Oh! Oh! He’s balanced on that boundary… like a ballerina! The slightest… puff… of breeze either way would have blown him over! Brilliant! Brilliant! It doesn’t get any closer!”

Whateley said: “That has created a lot of excitement in the media booth! We’re all checking the replay to see if his foot touched the rope.”
One was caught in the moment, colour. The romance of the game. The other in technology. It made me yearn for Ireland and other times.
The game continued to rollercoaster to the last. When Ireland somehow got up and won in the death-throws, their commentator leaped and yelled and lost his headphones, and destroyed the volume levels, butchering the sound, laughing and profoundly apologising for his unprofessional behaviour.
He was the best thing I’ve ever heard.
It made me wonder when the last time was I’d listened real emotion on the radio.

   This game’s in a lull for a moment as Watson and Faulkner find their range. Too bad. I’ve got a practice match of football to play. I’m going to give it my fucking all! Teammates or no. In a good way. Run in hard, straight lines, just like Noel McMahen!

The rain still comes and goes. In just one day it’s taken any feeling of Summer from the air.

 

 

Comments

  1. You always capture a time and a feeling beautifully Matt. I tolerate summers these days (what else can you do in Perth’ heat). But we have just had our first week of Autumn weather in the 20’s after 4 months not dipping below 30. There is rain on the roof tonight and Shandy the Labrador is wet and smelly, and I feel alive. Cool rain and a damp squib at the SCG in the cricket.
    Going to the WAFL on Saturday as my nephew is giving the big time another shot in the seconds for Swan Districts. Its my time of the year. Cricket has become the amusing drunk who doesn’t know he should have gone home 2 hours ago.

  2. Steve Hodder says

    Matt,
    Someone, I know, was boring me rotten about how brilliant G. Whateley is and I retorted that as an analyst on the Sumday morning couch, he was great to listen to. Yet when commentating, especially a Geelong game or a horse race he can be shrill and often nuts. He can make Rex Hunt sound droll. Whateley may have calmed down a tad over the last year or so but it’s still an affected style. The other person finished their red in silence.

    Onya

    Steve

  3. Matt,
    See if you can find the audio of the final moments of the 1990 grand final, when Peter Booth started crying in the booth.
    As a Collingwood fan, Booth had commentated on a lot of grand final losses.
    Seeing Collingwood finally win one was too much.
    Tim Lane picked up the commentary like a true professional.
    It remains the most emotive commentary I’ve ever heard, so raw, so real, so revealing.
    Magnificent…

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