Gabba Test – Day 2: The no show – damn tradesmen

I hate unreliable tradesmen.  I know they have bad reputations, but when a man says he’ll see me Friday afternoon, I figure he’s a cinch to show up, especially that he’s already quoted the job.

A bobcat operater I’ll call Jim (his real name) was scheduled to be at my house on Friday afternoon, to level a pad for a carport.

With a few free hours in the morning, I started three jobs, electrical work, carpentry and auto electrical work.  The television was off, a deliberate move.  With three jobs begun, I was listening to cricket on the ABC.

As I was swearing at my car, Brad Haddin ran himself out on a suicidal second run.  Curses switched from the Commodore to Haddin.

When England’s first innings began, I was removing screws from the dashboard to get at the aerial connection.  The Poms weren’t experiencing any problems, but I was.

Jim didn’t answer my call or respond to my text.  It was 11.30am and Friday.  Jim seemed the kind of guy who works hard but doesn’t rate work on Friday afternoon.

I was also having problems with the aerial.  Most of the dashboard had to come out, which would take an hour.  A boundary to Alistair Cook and a difficult glove box was enough to call an auto electrician, who said he could put an aerial in if I got the car to him quickly.

Without an aerial, I couldn’t listen to the cricket during the drive.  Thanks to Cricket Australia, I can’t get the broadcast on my phone, and there is no ABC link on Cricket Australia’s app, not one I can find, anyway.

Half an hour later, when Kristine picked me up, England was 2-51.  I’d missed the magic of wickets on the radio.  At home while I folded washing, I missed the magic of a wicket on television when Peter Siddle got scared and dropped a return catch.

Kristine frowned at my disappointment, mostly at the words I’d used.

If anyone would make Australia pay, I figured it would be Kevin Petiersen, who was playing a measured innings against tight bowling.  When the new power point was installed, Angus went for a sleep.  Kristine followed soon after.

The television had to go off.  I had to go outside, to cut MDF board in preparation for the splashbacks in the kitchen.

It was about 1pm.  No word from Jim.  The words on the radio said Pietersen was out for 17.  Ian Bell walked in, having scored four centuries against Australia in his last eleven innings.

Australia had to get Bell cheaply.  As I measured and marked MDF, Mitchell Johnson went around the wicket to Michael Carberry, heretofore astute and resolute in defence.

Johnson measured him flat in three balls, caught at first slip for 40.  Johnson’s plan was swift and vicious.  My plan was awry.  The MDF I had cut needed to be trimmed.

I’d been away from the garage for about two minutes.  When I got back, Bell was out.  I missed it, thanks to Cricket Australia and their bullshit commercial rules that don’t permit the ABC broadcast to get to phones.

Before the first trim, Kerry O’Keefe was calling Mark Prior’s wicket, again off Nathan Lyon, was now on a hat-trick.  Prior stood his ground.  The Aussies referred the not out decision.  Steve Smith, who also caught Bell, was certain.

I waited until Prior walked before making certain of the MDF.

England had lost 4 wickets for five runs.  The MDF lost four to five millimetres.

In the kitchen, the fit was better.  Back in the garage, the sound was better.  Joe Root was out, flashing at a wide one.  Johnson had three wickets.  I had three more boards to trim.

Before they were done, Graeme Swan was out for a duck.  England had lost six wickets in half an hour, for nine runs.

With the trimming done, I woke Kristine and Angus for his swimming lesson.  I was getting a lesson in levels.  The power point next to the stove was crooked.  I wondered why I didn’t level it before screwing it.  I wondered why Johnson and Harris kept bowling short to Chris Tremlett and Stuart Broad.

They scored valuable runs as the power point was reapplied to the wall.  Australia had England to the wall and seemed intoxicated by the bounce.

It isn’t tough bowling bouncers to tailenders.  It is cruel and unjustified, with the Poms 8-105.

The text from Jim was cruel and unjustified too; Sorry Matt got swept up by a builder mate I’m at the cricket Bloody forget with the free ticket and all

It was 3pm.  Jim’s infuriating text was tempered somewhat by Tremlett’s wicket.  Not long after, Peter Siddle got Broad caught in the deep.  England was all out for 136.  Broad caught a popular spray as he left the field.

With the MDF done, Kristine drove me to the auto electrician.  With a new aerial, I listened to the cricket during the drive to a mate’s house.  He needed help moving his pool table.  When I got there, Australia was 0-45.

My mate was listening to Icehouse.  After moving the pool table, I didn’t hang around for a beer.  I had a mess to clean up in the kitchen, and I didn’t want to listen to Icehouse.

I didn’t miss a ball of the last hour, all heard on ABC radio.  I love listening to cricket as I move about the house and get things done.

That couldn’t have happened if the television was on.

Jim’s no-show has set me back weeks.  I had a builder lined up to help with the carport.  It is embarrassing blaming incompetence on someone else.  England’s no-show with the bat was embarrassing incompetence they can’t blame on anyone else.

I am angry Jim didn’t show up today.  The bowlers dug Australia out of a hole, but I can’t dig the holes Jim was supposed to create.  At least he got to see a great day of cricket.  He must’ve had a ball, because he didn’t respond to my text about doing the job tomorrow.

He’ll probably be at the cricket again.

I might go too.  I’ll tell Kristine it is Jim’s fault.  Because he didn’t turn up, I’ve got nothing else to do tomorrow…




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…


  1. Get a grip Matt. Jim was at the cricket serving the far more important national cause, not yours.
    Australia clearly play much better when you are working on house chores and listening to the radio. Not glued to the couch watching.
    Kristine, the Avenging Eagle and the Handicapper all agree on this.
    Spooky huh. Must be hormonal.
    Icehouse are great – get a life.
    Brilliant piece, I like it better when you are self-deprecating more than opinionated (but don’t give up on the hatchet jobs – Fremantle and Cricket Australia deserve it).

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Amusing read well done , Matt I had knee surgery , Thursday so in recovery mode on the couch didn’t miss a ball instead of working although as some one who prefers , ABC radio over channel , I hate how out of sync it is you just can’t do it
    Matt if we collapse today do we blame you or , Jim ?
    Thanks Iron Mike

  3. At the cricket on the Gabba a common conversation on the new mod-con, the mobile, was: :Nahh, mate. Not today. NO chance today. Falt out. I reckon next Wednesday will be the earliest I’ll get to you.”

    That was when the Test started on a Friday.

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