First Test of the Elite Test Series, Australia v India – Day 1

It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred
(Bob Dylan)

Test match Eve

 

4.45 pm           Adelaide International Airport

 

Glen Maxwell and three other members of the Australian Test team arrive from a meaningless T20 somewhere. Tired to the point of exhaustion. Jet lagged to the gills. The team coach fails to arrive. So too, Justin Langer. During the short drive to the swanky Adelaide hotel the Indian born cab driver provides a non-stop monologue on the merits of Kohli, swing bowlers that swing the ball and a spinner that bamboozles. Maxwell silently wishes that CA had taken up the Indian offer of playing against an Australian XV.  At least he’d get a game, rather than having to carry the bloody drinks again.

 

5.30 pm           North Terrace. Rooftop pool and bar complex of a swanky Adelaide hotel

 

Former Australian cricketer, possibly a wicketkeeper, lies spreadeagled on a banana lounge. He awakes from his comatose state. It had indeed been a long lunch. Former Australian cricketer staggers towards the exit, trips and falls into the pool. Rescued by two swarthy hotel staff he is eventually deposited back in his hotel room where he sleeps soundly till the next morning.

 

The morning of the Test match

 

4.30 am           Back verandah of homestead at a McLaren Vale winery

 

Sir Ian Botham snores. Resulting tremor wakes him and forgetting where he is, Botham overbalances and falls from the hammock in which he has been sleeping. Struggling to his feet, he shakes his head and begins the 20km walk towards Adelaide. He recalls significant moments of the previous evening where, as guest speaker at a dinner group of mustachioed Southern Vales winemakers, he had regaled his audience with tales of nefarious events both on and off the field as well as promoting the release of his new range of boutique, if somewhat stalky, wines from the South Yorkshire region.

 

6 am                Adelaide Oval centre wicket

 

Curator drops in to inspect drop-in pitch for signs of life and green tinges. His aging, faithful Labrador companion, Boof the Woof, relieves itself lengthily on a good length.

 

6.05 am (6.35 am EST)          Coogee Oval, Sydney

 

David Warner begins practising his “quick single for the century followed by ecstatic leaping and bounding in the direction of deep cover” routine. He removes his helmet mid-pirouette, punches the air and raises his bat threateningly in the direction of an imaginary crowd.

 

6.50 am           Globe Derby Park Motel

 

Mark Waugh receives a phone call from someone purporting to be the breakfast announcer from local community radio station FM 99.94. Caller asks Mark if he can provide listeners with any information about pitch and weather conditions. “That’s odd,” thinks Mark, “I reckon I’ve heard that voice somewhere before. I’d better call Shane.”

 

7.15 am           Swanky hotel, North Terrace

 

Sir Ian Botham arrives, enters lift and presses button to take him to his twelfth floor room. Doors open at the sixth floor where Ian Chappell is awaiting the lift to take him down to breakfast. Botham hastily presses door close button.

 

7.18 am           A neighbouring swanky hotel, North Terrace

 

Virat Kohli looks in the mirror. He sees no fear.

 

7.30 am           Swanky hotel, North Terrace

 

Press and past player expert commentators gather for breakfast. The halls are alive with the sound of muesli. Former Australian cricketer, possibly a wicketkeeper, arrives in a somewhat bedraggled state. His clothes are still saturated. “Well, what are we going to do today?” he says, “My clothes are soaked. It must have rained all night. There obviously won’t be any play today”.

 

8.15 am           Salisbury Oval, Salisbury, a northern suburb of Adelaide

 

Darren Lehmann kick-starts the heavy roller, climbs into the driver’s seat and commences rolling the pitch.

 

8.45 am           Adelaide Oval             Clem Hill Committee Room

 

Members of CA Board assemble to discuss Ethics Centre Cricket Culture Review recommendation 6, namely, that a process be commenced whereby a constructive working relationship is established with the ACA. Recently appointed Chairman Neil Harvey welcomes guest advisor, government minister Michaelia Cash, noting that she possesses “expertise in the area to be considered.”

 

9 am                Forecourt of Riverbank entrance to Adelaide Oval

 

Twenty former Australian Test cricketers assemble, all wearing the fabled baggy green and carrying sprigs of wattle. Displaying large placards with various inscriptions; “Save our Smudge”, “We Warner bring back Dave” and “Lift the Bancroft” they begin chanting,

 

The best things in life are free
But you can keep ‘em for the birds and bees
Just give me money
That’s what I want

and

It’s money that matters
Hear what I say
It’s money that matters
To us and CA

 

It has been decided not to sing a rendition of John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance, even with the adapted lyrics.

 

9.03 am           Forecourt of Riverbank entrance to Adelaide Oval

 

ACA sales representatives set up a card table bookstall with copies of latest biographies and other epics from former greats and not so greats. Some of the shortly to be remaindered titles include:

 

Applying the DRS to Advantage (Shane Watson)
Drinking beers under the SCG grandstand after stumps (former team mate of S. Watson)
Elite Honesty (Justin Langer)
1969/70 Tour of India and South Africa – Report to the Board of Control (Bill Lawry)
Cricket ball resin deposits in south-eastern Australia (anonymous former ball scuffer)
A Survey of cricket bat edge thickness: 1969-2018 (Barry Richards)
From Triple 20 to T20: International Darts and the Upper Echelons of Australian Cricket: An Olfactory Review (various unspecified contributors)
The Duckworth Lewis Method (Bettina Arndt)

 

9.30 am (3pm yesterday, Eastern time, USA)           The White House, Washington

 

Thirty minutes after completing a lunch consisting of his usual standard faire, President Trump explodes. On hearing the news, Channel Seven immediately withdraws all adverts involving cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes. Head of CA Sponsorship Department makes mental note to review contract with multinational Scottish hamburger chain.

 

9.30 am          Shaun Marsh phones Second Assistant Medical Officer of the Australian cricket team.

 

After listening to Shaun’s concern Second Assistant Medical Officer immediately contacts First Assistant Medical Officer. Eventually phone contact is established between Shaun and coach Justin Langer.

 

Marsh: Coach, I don’t reckon I can play today, I’ve got an abscess on my buttock.
Langer: You must be joking. An abscess?
Marsh: Yep, and the Doc says it’s an elite abscess too.
Langer; Jeez, Shaun, you’re a pain in the arse.
Marsh: That’s what I said, coach.

 

9.45 am           Henley Beach. Near Del Monte, site of the former Cricket Academy where our Shane spent all too few formative days of his pre-Test career climbing in the back window of the boarding house in the early hours. The Our Shane Warne Spin Clinic begins whereby the spinning maestro imparts spin thoughts to twenty five red-headed spinning protégés. Young, curly, red-haired, soon to be the next spinning superstar, “Hey Shane, If you teach me how to bowl a leg break, I’ll show you my wrong ’un.”
Following the spin session, our Shane will run an elocution class on the acceptable pronunciation of the word Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate.
Pizza will then be served.

 

9.50 am (10.20 am EST)        CA Headquarters, Jolimont Street, Melbourne (Vic)

 

In the midst of the busy morning in the lead up to the start of the Test match, an IT guru surreptitiously makes additions to the Spirit of Cricket awards page on the CA website. He wonders if anyone has noticed there have been no updates since 2013.

 

10 am              Adelaide Oval. Northern entrance, just near the Ken Farmer statue.

 

At the Australian Cricket Family stall, sales of T-shirts bearing the signature of David Peever under the words, “Just a mere hiccup” are going badly.

On the other hand, the David Peever dartboards (featuring head and shoulders picture of the former chairman) have sold out.
Questions about the Kayo App are met with a quizzical look and uncomfortable silence.

 

10.05 am         Adelaide Oval             Eastern entrance

 

SACA Board members and representatives of the Stadium Management Authority hand out leaflets setting out the pros and cons of the mind-blowing proposal to build a 128 room hotel on the eastern facade of the eastern grandstand. The proposed commercial enterprise, namely a swanky hotel, will be located within the area surrounding the city designated as parklands or for recreational use in perpetuity. The construction will further decimate the heritage Creswell gardens and cause traffic chaos. On a positive note there will be no change to the white scallop roof of the eastern stand and the significant financial return will enable the price of a very small plastic container of a beer to be reduced from $12.45 to $12.40. Also, there will be no impact on oval patrons near the scoreboard on match days unless they make a racket in which case they will be ejected from the ground.

 

10.10 am         Adelaide Oval.            Under a huge Moreton Bay fig tree

 

Kerry O’Keefe revives a rendition of The Frog Joke in front of a bemused audience of 15 young cricket enthusiasts who just want their mini-bats signed. O’Keefe is engulfed by a self-inflicted paroxysm of giggling laughter. An unfortunate, embarrassing episode ensues.

 

10.15 am         The hallowed turf, Adelaide Oval

 

There are 350 people on the oval, more than the number of spectators in the outer – blokes in suits, lasses stumbling as their high heels sink into the turf. All are wearing lanyards. Selfies are selflessly and sensitively shared with just a hint of narcissistic delusion. Most of these insurgents will later head “out the back” and not see a ball bowled during the day. Several receive severe ankle injuries as they jump to avoid the long rope trailing the tractor being driven at speed around the playing surface by a SACA employee, a fringe player now without contract but bearing something of a grudge. The tractor is affectionately known as Fergy. It often breaks down. Nearer the wicket area, ground staff despair and 43 media personnel, many of whom are former Test cricketers of note, make inane comments about the pitch. Michael Slater practises hook shots for his explanatory lunchtime TV slot. Ground Manager Rod Marsh is not happy and begins waving his arms about and ordering people to leave. Jim Maxwell surveys the scene from the ABC media suite high in the stand. For once, he is speechless.

 

10.20 am         Adelaide Oval             Stairs to the Roof Walk

 

Bottle neck congestion on the stairs as members of the Youth Choir attempt to push past the group of Kensington and Beaumont matrons. Youth choir is required to be in staggered positions along roof for singing of the National Anthem and revamped Australian team theme song “Here Come the Aussies” (well, it worked in 1972). The K&B matrons, all SACA Members from birth, are heading for roof top vantage points carrying picnic baskets. Roof top viewing is now preferred since the building of the aforementioned, huge pesky, eastern grandstand named after all those boorish footballers and that little bloke in the suit has obliterated the former much desired view of “never mind the cricket, look at that marvellous Cathedral and the wonderful Adelaide Hills.”

 

10.30 am                     Adelaide Oval             Centre wicket

 

Virat Kohli refuses to take part in the toss until he is assured that the final mowing and rolling of pitch has been completed. There has been considerable conjecture concerning the identity of the Australian team guest coin tosser. Today, M4 (Much Maligned Mitch Marsh) has been given the responsibility. He awaits further instructions from captain Tim Paine.

 

10.30 am         Across the land           Channel Nine Television

 

Channel Nine Sports Department telecast begins with re-run of the series, Celebrity Backyard Cricket. A ratings failure when it first aired, the show epitomised the continued pillaging of Australian cultural icons by corporate entities.

 

10.40 am         Adelaide Oval             Media Centre

 

Fox Sports cricket broadcast is about to begin.
That bloke who yells and screams a lot clears his throat with an emetic gargle.

 

Channel Seven TV match broadcast begins.
A replacement for the humiliating, heavily criticised musical promo liberated from the soul classic, “Hold on, I’m coming”,  is yet to be decided upon.
“Do you think R-E-S-P-E-C-T will work?” says Bruce.

 

And so it goes.

 

 

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About Peter Crossing

Peter Crossing loves the pure 'n natch'l blues. He is a member of the silver fox faction of the Adelaide Uni Greys. He remains thoroughly disillusioned with many aspects of Australian cricket.

Comments

  1. Richard (Charlie) Brown says

    Very well written Peter. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I agree that on the morning of Day 1 there may well be more people on the ground ingratiating themselves than there are in the outer. I’ll ring you tomorrow about our Prospect Oval rendezvous.

  2. Wonderful Peter. I reckon you’ve skewered every worthy target here. I continue to blink every time I see M. Marsh (vc).

    There’s an entire stand-up routine in The Duckworth Lewis Method (Bettina Arndt) that I’d love to read.

    Thanks.

  3. Peter and Micky R
    Never understood Duckworth Lewis because I have been looking in wrong place. Will now go back to Forum magazine archives and get on top of the stand up version. Heinz’s daughter leads us forward.

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Where to start Noughts?

    I can’t get that picture of Kevin Wright on the banana lounge out of my mind, nor Boof astride the Des Bishop Memorial Roller.

    I drew Scottie’s Motel in the Mark Waugh sweep.

  5. I pissed myself reading this. Which is why I find the Kerry O’Keefe reference so distasteful.
    Yours, Senior Citizen of Perth.

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Very well played Noughts

  7. Michael Harry says

    Great stuff, a very well informed insider view. Much more interesting than what I suspect will come to pass next week. How about they drain the Marsh?

  8. Peter Crossing says

    Thanks for your comments.
    Michael Clarke continues to provide rich fodder.
    Swish. Not Kevin Wright but an apocryphal story nevertheless. I remember seeing Darren L being the first to race to help with the covers when rain interrupted a Prospect/Northern Districts match at Salisbury one day. And he wasn’t even involved in the match as he had played in an Aust (Aust A?) game the day before.
    Nank. Happy reading etc.
    Peter B. Lucky you weren’t on the Oval near the centre wicket.
    Michael. There is much minding of the Marsh.

  9. Whell! There you go then. I mean to say. A marathon effort; unflagging whacko wit, and and nippy nuances. Beachcomber (J.B. Moreton) would be impressed, Neville Cardus bemused, and Bob Hawke would’ve said “Arrrrr” and then fallen off his chair.

    ,

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