Cricket: Winners are grinners, especially against Victoria

When fluid-enhanced social intercourse among this nation’s sporting experts tackles the subject of great sporting rivalries, the punters often fall for the trap of blinkered vision.

‘Poms and Australia at Cricket’.

‘Waddabout  Kiwis and Australia at Rugby’

‘Naaar, Collingwood and Carlton,’ and on and on and on. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish and more rubbish.

The fiercest competitors on the sports field anywhere in the world are Tasmanians — when they take on Victoria. Ian Botham was once recorded saying that Australians were the most competitive mob on the planet, noting that you could take twelve blokes from a Sunday arvo Bondi Beach cricket game and put them up against the ‘Old Dart’ at Lord’s and although they may get beaten but they would not give an inch. That is exactly how we are over the Strait.

Up until last Sunday the fact was not fully understood by the cocky Vics that we share the world’s greatest rivalry. The poor old Vics thought that the Tasmanian team of local kids and interstate discards would be easy. We have tried to tell them, time and time again. But like most offspring (remember Melbourne was settled when one of Tasmania’s well-known bushrangers, John Batman, escaped from Launceston on the barque Rebecca) with a behavioural problem we were unable to hold their attention. We have a saying down here. “You can tell a Victorian, but you can’t tell him much.”

The scene was set several weeks ago when William Morris Lawry was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame. Poor old ‘Beaker’ while addressing the sports nuts of the nation could not help himself with his smirking  provocative remark about the Vics currently dominating all forms of Australian Cricket ‘and rightly so’. At the time Tassy was at the bottom of the table. Three straight wins against recent cricketing power houses later…. .

So what is it about Tasmania?

We have become hardened, having all endured he ‘two heads’ and ‘how’s your sister?’ taunts. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Boring.

Two heads would surely give us a considerable quantum advantage in the brain department and both my sisters were drop dead gorgeous a few years back (so I was told) and constantly fighting off advances from mainlanders whose own sisters had apparently rejected them.

In Tassy we know where we stand, firmly placed at the bottom of the world, so the Philistines believe. I do note however that where I currently stand, no matter where I look radiating out from this divine space, once you get to the horizon you can only go over it and down. How does that song go?

There is no pretentiousness with us. Why would there be?

Just because we have the world’s cleanest air and water (whoops), as well as the world’s best lifestyle, scenery, beaches, roads, cool climate vegetables, cheese, honey, meat, fish, fruit, wine, single malts, beer, cricketers, footballers (real footy), world’s biggest eagle, crab and fresh water crayfish, best contemporary classical music composer and more. We even have the world’s most honest and accountable government. (Just kidding.)

The Tassy preparation for the Ranger Cup final was low key. Although the various contemporary morphed versions of the town crier (still gets the occasional gig in Hobart) had the Bushrangers as favourites, we were quietly confident.

My preparation was also extremely low key. A solitary mid-morning botanising bushwalk through the nearby National Park. Then a quiet afternoon listening to the start of the game on the totally unbiased Victoria-based ABC radio, reading the Sunday papers alone at the beach side shack, sipping Earle Grey tea with leatherwood honey and munching on a home grown Black Russian tomato, chives and basil sandwich.

Relaxed? You bet, after all we were going for our third national limited overs title in six years, punctuated by a Shield win, so we weren’t fazed. Yes I know that three is a smaller number than four (straight losses) but little fish are sweet. We are the future, not the past.

As it started to get interesting, and buoyed by the fact that another Tasmanian escapee turned Bushranger had dropped one of our openers at the wicket, I wandered to a mate’s shack to watch it on the Pay TV. It is amazing just how much we collectively know about cricket.

It can also be very distracting watching the sun descend over western Bass Strait causing constant sparkles on the waves occasionally punctuated by a pod of dolphins swishing around the bay chasing salmon. Beer o’clock.

Needless to say as the game moved forward the satisfaction increased. The Vics could not keep chasing down large scores, Brad Hodge was due to fail, even though the Victorian commentators had already inked in his passing Phil Jacques’ Australian domestic one-day competition season’s run record. We had three experienced slow bowlers suited to the wicket and imminent twilight dew and of course the Vics were starting to get finals jelly legs: again.  How about Denton? Not bad for a broken down old hack.

The rest of the evening was a (soft seaside) breeze with only the distraction of the New Zealand win in the ‘shear off’ at Christchurch. Who cares? I was only interested in the main game. We would have got White early as well. ‘The perfect game,’ I heard it said.

Of course the win is now just a blip in history (in Victoria not Tasmania) and although mathematically possible, Tassy’s Shield season is over. We learned the hard way last week that you can’t rely on Victoria to beat a team to get you there. Queensland made 58 crucial runs at ‘nine fer’ as the Vics again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. They are just keeping a good team out of the final.

Real Victorian bushrangers were known to be hard, have gallant stands and fight to the finish. Spinach any one?


  1. Brilliant article Bill, you really made me yearn for home. It’s been far, far too long since I was in the Apple Isle.

  2. Phantom – congratulations to the Taswegians. Imagine how excited you’d be if you won something important!

    Having said that, as I sit here in my drought effected garden, having just got home an hour late due to another catastrophic failure on the public transport system (I was visiting someone in hospital who happened to be lying on a trolley in the hospital’s laundry room), and having discovered that my air conditioner only works on cool days as electricity is not available to Victorians when it gets hot; I watched as an ill-at-ease youngster vandalised my letterbox then came into my front garden and stabbed me repeatedly in the stomach, whereupon I called the police who said there was nothing they could do about it, and then I turned the tap on to wash the wound only to discover that the great big drainage pipe that is supposed to pour water down from the Goulburn River to Melbourne actually only transports dust and migrating spiders, I decided to completely give up on the day and have a quiet beer sitting on my front step. Half way through the beer the police stormed into the front garden and arrested me for possibly encouraging alcohol fueled violence. Other than all that everything is going well here in Victoria.

  3. Dips,

    Whaddayamean it’s not important.

    There were more tears in the Bushrangers eyes than in the St Kilda huddle after we beat them last outing.

    Besides I needed perking up after the debacle at Yea.

    It shows how much depth Richmond has I suppose. They had none of the boys from their last premiership. We were only missing twelve.


  4. Let’s not talk about Yea. The Cats are probably getting pounded on the track, but its a bit of a worry that none of the youngsters are firing major shots.

    Its a great point you make about their last premiership players not in attendance, though I reckon Hungry Bartlett might have been in a commentary box.

  5. John Butler says

    Enjoy the moment Phantom.

    Geez Dips, life should be so hard. If Victoria’s getting too rough, give Somalia a try. You must be taking the Cat’s form hard.

  6. Dave Nadel says

    Of course State Cricket victories are important to Taswegians, they live in the only State that doesn’t have an AFL team and (according to Andrew Demetriou) isn’t going to get one in the forseeable future. New South Wales, with no history of AFL support north of Wagga, is about to get its second team – placed in an area where all the locals support League and Soccer – but the state which has had Aussie Rules as its winter game since the 1870s and has produced legends of the game like Hudson, Baldock, Hart, Greening and Crosswell can’t get a team.

    Tasmanians have to take State One day Cricket more seriously than the rest of us. They have nothing to entertain themselves in winter apart from a handful of Hawthorn Games!

  7. Good on yer Dave. Carn the Pies.

    It makes it worth while when you dangle a nice big wriggly worm on the surface and the fish rise to the bait.

    (By the way did I mention that Tassy has the best wild trout fishery in the world. Big shots come from all over the globe to test their skills?)

    Cheers, Phantom.

  8. Dave Nadel says

    Then again Phantom, you could have simply interpreted my comments as support for the heroic struggle of Tasmanian Footy fans to get their own AFL team.

    Actually, I do support Tasmania getting an AFL team – it should have had one since the 90s!

    On the other hand it is true that like the other 4 million plus Victorians who didn’t go to the MCG last Sunday, I don’t get very excited about one day cricket results.

  9. Cheers Dave,

    I am the one out of step on the AFL side. I don’t want it. The State can’t afford it.

    I already have a team; The Cats. I couldn’t see myself supporting a relocated Melbourne or Hawthorn.

  10. Pamela Sherpa says

    Hilarious Bill.

    Dips – city life can drive people crazy you know.

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