Don’t Kill The Keeper


by Wally Wright



If I had to choose one word that best-described my experience at Sunday’s ODI at the Gabba between Australia and India, it would be CONFUSING.


My confusion began shortly after I arrived at the Cricketers’ Club around midday. Looking for some sustenance, I gravitated towards the sweet aroma of hot chips that was emanating from the floor space below the caricature of Sam Trimble.


As I grabbed a small cup of hot chips and headed towards the cashier, I was confident the collection of shrapnel from the previous night, totalling $4.50, would suffice. Wrong ($6 Thank-you). ‘Fair enough’, I thought, pouring the shrapnel back into my wallet and pulling out a crisp ten dollar note, expecting a pair of two dollar coins in return. Wrong again. The cashier’s combination of two one dollar coins and four fifty cent pieces only added insult to injury.


With my wallet refusing to close due to the jam-packed coin pouch, I decided to proceed immediately to the bar, where I knew a plastic cup of Carlton Mid would unburden me of this hefty load.


The two teams were now in the middle of their warm-ups, so my brother and I ventured out of the air-conditioned Cricketers’ Club to assume the position in our seats outside.


Mickey Arthur was running a high-intensity fielding drill just in front of us, which saw Matthew Wade peppered with a fusillade of firm throws every few seconds.


George Bailey was amongst this group, after being flown up from Hobart overnight in the middle of a crucial Shield match against Queensland. Commonsense told me that Bailey (who I believe to be one of the most underrated players in the country) would be named in the XI, because why else would Cricket Australia remove Tasmania’s captain and most influential player from a must-win game, only to have him sit on the sidelines.


Several times during this 10 minute fielding drill, my brother (who is a keeper) commented to me that constant exposure to a fielding drill of this nature could be detrimental to the playing future of the impressive Wade.


I’ve always been of the belief that training drills should try to replicate what happens during a game, and in all my years of watching and playing cricket, I’ve never seen a wicketkeeper catch 5 balls in 10 seconds!


At the conclusion of the drill, Wade was clearly in pain. He has already suffered a number of hand and finger injuries in his short career, but his ability to play through injury is testament to his toughness – an essential character trait for any Australian cricketer, especially a wicketkeeper.


Gone are the days when Australian keepers, like Wally Grout (who didn’t even bring his keeping gloves to State training for fear of injuring himself forcing back-up Lew Cooper to catch rockets from the likes of Des Bull and Wes Hall), could get away with non-participation in fielding drills but I see no reason as to why one of the dozen Australian coaching staff couldn’t put on a baseball glove and relieve Wade of his duties after a few minutes.


I was confused.


As Ricky Ponting and MS Dhoni walked out to the middle for the toss, many of those who had finished enjoying their sit-down lunch in the Sir Donald Bradman room began to filter out of the Cricketers’ Club to their allocated seats.


Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a pair of amazing legs in high heels walking down the stairs. To my surprise they belonged to a statuesque brunette in her mid-forties (for the sake of this article I will refer to her as ‘Cougar’), whose well-tanned skin, coupled with her white tank top and grey short skirt made her stand out like a sore thumb amongst her entourage of conservatively-dressed middle-aged women.


My brother nudged me in the side as they sat down two rows in front of us – I assured him that I was already aware of the situation with a nod of the head and a wry smile.


My attention went back to the cricket as Ricky Ponting was being interviewed by Mark Nicholas after winning the toss and electing to bat – a straight-forward decision on a typical Gabba belter.


A few moments later, as Ponting headed off towards the dressing-room and MS Dhoni’s face appeared on the big screen, an enormous cheer erupted from the thousands of Indian supporters that had come to the Gabba to support their national heroes. Once again, I was confused. Was I at the Gabba or Edens Gardens?


As both teams retreated to their dressing-rooms, the respective XI’s appeared on the big screen. George Bailey not selected. CONFUSED.


After a comparatively cautious start, Dave Warner began to open his shoulders, much to the delight of the mug (already tanked at 1:40pm) who yelled out from his corporate box: ‘Do something Warner!’ every time a dot ball was bowled. The stupidity of idiots like this never ceases to amaze me. I guarantee this Muppet would shit his pants if he had to take the field in front of 32,000, let alone face Yadav bowling 150 clicks.


When Ponting departed after a timid 7 off 26 balls, I was perplexed as to why he was still playing ODI’s, seen as he surely wouldn’t be in the selection picture for the 2015 World Cup (as I write this Ponting has just conceded that he doesn’t think he’ll be picked to play ODI’s for Australia again). (and now won’t – Ed)


During the ensuing drinks break, as everyone rose to their feet to prevent their bums from falling asleep, my attention was once again grabbed by the ‘Cougar’ who was busy adjusting her short skirt that had ridden up her thighs, much to the delight of the two elderly gentlemen who were sitting directly behind her.


It was during this time that I noticed not only was the ‘Cougar’ wearing a black G-string but also a wedding ring. Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to dealing with the mixed signals of women, but this was an absolute classic. If ‘Cougar’ wasn’t looking for a good time then Kevin Rudd won’t challenge Julia Gillard in the coming months.


Needless to say, I was confused.


When Billy Bowden ran after Mike Hussey following the Third Umpire’s decision of OUT, followed seconds later by NOT OUT, I, along with everyone else at the ground was immensely confused.


The break for change of innings saw many spectators once again retreat into the air-conditioning of the Cricketers’ Club.


My brother and I remained outside to watch the half-time festivities – so did ‘Cougar’.


As the ‘Kiss Cam’ came on the big screen, pressuring couples and strangers alike to make out publicly, I thought about relocating to the now vacant seat next to ‘Cougar’, but another likely lad was two steps ahead of me.


After exchanging greetings, ‘Cougar’ turned to her friend giggling, giving a clear indication to the Ralph Lauren polo-wearing lothario, that she wasn’t interested. Poor bastard.


After the Indians lost three early wickets and retreated into their shells, it didn’t take long for the surprisingly-large crowd, who are now accustomed to the fireworks of Twenty20, to commence a Mexican wave.


As the Mexican wave rolled on inexorably and the warning note of ‘YOU THROW, YOU GO’ flashed up on the big screen, I began to gain some clarity.


One-Day Cricket in many ways is like the ‘Cougar’. After 40-odd years, you can dress it up as much as you like but at the end of the day it can’t hide from the fact that it’s getting old and desperate and pretty soon it won’t attract any viewers at all.






  1. No where’s Wally about that one. He’s at the cricket. Good read.

    I am glad that you have woken up to that conspiracy regarding Tassy cricketers. They had Hilfy flying around the country for a while to keep him out of the team but when common sense prevailed he got another man of the match. Bet Jim Maxwell is grumpy.

    The good news is of course we have both Punter and young George for Saurday’s game against the Crow Eaters and an in form Punter for the last few home and away fixtures in the Shield.

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