Gabba Test, Australia v India – Day One: Mitch v Peppa Pig

When I woke at eight I took a hot breath and sighed.  By the time I’d walked into the kitchen for coffee, I was shrouded in humidity.

 

It was too hot to sit down.  It was too hot to stand.  It was too hot for coffee but I persevered.  Angus gave me a cuddle, which felt like two molten rocks colliding.

 

‘We gonna watch some cricket today?’

 

‘Yes daddy,’ he said.

 

Angus will be three in April.  I introduced him to cricket during last year’s Ashes.  His attention span lasted long enough to learn how to give batsmen out, which he did regularly.  Last summer he would sit on my lap for twenty minutes and watch Test cricket.

 

His interest lingered into footy season, but he didn’t call it football, it was cricket ball.  ‘Are you watching cricket ball,’ he’d ask.

 

‘Yes, but’s called football.’

 

‘It’s cricket ball.’

 

I let him have it.  My hope that’d he’d let me watch cricket this year died during the first Test.  He thinks if the TV is on, it’s on for him.  And cricket isn’t Pepper Pig or Shaun the Sheep or Scooby Doo.

 

But he understands the TV in the garage is for sport.  On the last day of the first Test, he sat on the couch in the garage and watched as India collapsed, firing the batsman out with his tiny finger.

 

When I turned the house TV on to watch the first session of the second Test, I thought my enthusiasm would inspire Angus but he wouldn’t have it.  I was able to see the first over before his demands for Peter Rabbit forced me to turn the TV off and head outside.

 

The sun beat down.  It was already 33 degrees with eighty percent humidity.  It was a day when it just has to rain, but there’s no chance of it happening.

 

Brisbane had been cool for three days, so the pool was cool and a great relief.  Kristine was entertaining her friend Liz and her boy Max, who is similar in age to Angus.

 

I bottled beer while they swam and ate cake and fruit.  I listened to the ABC, expecting a wicket and ruing the weather.  I was sweating while bottling as Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood sweltered while bowling.

 

Mitchell Marsh got the breakthrough then broke his hamstring.  Shaun Marsh didn’t do his confidence and the team any favours by dropping Vijay on 36.  His error cost Australia 108 runs.

 

1-89 at lunch wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad.  I drove my brother to the Gabba and dropped him off in a side street.  It was the closest I’d get to live cricket for the day, and it was with some envy that I watched him walk away.

 

Pujara fell for eighteen shortly after lunch, leaving India at 2-100.  When Kohli went at 137, Hazlewood had two wickets.  A big partnership or another wicket could turn the match.

 

As I finished off the bottling and took to the pool, Vijay and Rahane were building a 124-run partnership.  Vijay hit his hundred.  Two runs later, Shaun Marsh dropped him again, putting India in control.

 

During the last session, Angus wasn’t interested in watching the cricket.  He’s too little to concentrate on anything other than cartoons, but I was hoping to get him through five minutes so he’d stop asking for Speed Racer.

 

I sat him on my lap and had him fire the batsmen out.  He’s getting good at giving the finger of death and pointing it at the TV, but he tried to poke my eyes out then rammed his finger into my bellybutton.

 

By 4.30pm I was on the train into the city, to catch up with Adam at the Criterion for a Christmas beer.  Vijay went out for 144 while I was on the train.  I was pleased Nathan Lyon got a wicket and surprised Mitchell Johnson hadn’t.

 

At the Criterion it was happy hour, five dollar beers.  It was happy hour at the Gabba too, five run overs as David Warner and Steve Smith bowled their legspin.

 

India ended the day at 4-311 as I ended my first pint.  Adam and I talked about Phil Hughes for a while.  We’d both played cricket as young men.  We’d been hit by a cricket ball without any expectation of dying.

 

I called home and talked to Kristine and Angus.  They were fine.  I asked Angus if we were going to watch the second day of the Test.

 

‘Yes daddy,’ he said.

 

I was seven when I discovered cricket.  I can’t imagine summer without Test cricket.  All through my childhood and into my teenage years, I sat and watched Test cricket.  If I couldn’t watch I’d listen to it.

 

Many times my parents told me to turn the TV off and go outside and do something.

 

One day in protest, I ran an extension lead from the garage into the backyard and plugged in the portable radio.  I put a chair in the shade and sat for hours, listening to the cricket on the ABC while fidgeting with a bat and ball, in full view of my parents who were inside.

 

I was doing something, sitting outside listening to the cricket.  If they wouldn’t let me watch, I would listen.

 

Now, when the Tests are on, I’m always doing something.  I’m either watching or listening.  As Angus grows up, he’s going to be exposed to Test cricket.

In a few years, we will be getting dropped off at the Gabba on a hot, oppressive day.  But right now, it is me and my boy, sitting on the couch watching Test cricket, a few overs here, a few overs there.

 

We have time to build an innings.  And of course, there is another baby on the way, due in ten days.  Could be a boy or girl.  Most likely will love Test cricket…

 

 

About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…

Comments

  1. craig dodson says

    Hi Matt

    With a son about to turn 3 in April as well I can relate. My young charge likes watching golf – he calls it ‘golf ball ball’, and already has a better swing than his old man. Good luck with the impending transistion to two kids. I also have a 12 week old (another Son) so have a fair idea of what is coming up for you.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great stuff Matt , I have 2 boys who both hate cricket , I tried to influence them when they were younger ( not forcing ) but no luck . Daniel would have been about , 9 when he exclaimed , what a stupid crap game cricket is , I replied with blood test , he then said do I have to have a blood test . I say lucky you have got red hair pal !
    Seriously I have tried to get them both to watch , took them to the 20 20 game at the g against , South Africa when , Warner announced his arrival , Daniel just read a book
    have tried to have a hit with them but no interet at all , I have given up !

  3. Craig,
    We are in for an experience to be sure.
    I’m looking forward to when Angus is old enough to play. And the new baby too.
    Malcolm, it’s a shame your boys aren’t interested. I heard a comment on ABC the other day, if you were inventing a new game you wouldn’t invent one that went five days.
    Some of my mate’s kids know nothing about cricket. They don’t even know how to interpret the score. To me, it doesn’t make sense. I hope Angus and the new baby follow my love…

  4. Great read Matt, I like the way you weave both private and public worlds together.

    It is interesting looking at families, especially those with boys, and noticing whether or not cricket is for them. Some kids are just not into it, but those that are, are engrossed usually from a really young age like your boy….they live and breathe the sport for the entire summer.

    My youngest s nine and went to his first big bash game last night. Ecstatic!…in fact it followed a sleepover with three of his school mates on Friday night…they spent about 2 hours at the park playing cricket, came home , bbq dinner followed by upstairs lounge room cricket until late, woke up next morning for the next innings of lounge room cricket, and finished up with the board game Test Match on kitchen table.

    Best wishes for next baby

  5. matt watson says

    Kate,
    I’m looking forward to that happening with Angus. And having a kick with him at the local school. He’s already a North Melbourne member…

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