Second Test – Day 2: In Praise of Rest (Days)

Adelaide, 24 November 2012.

After Australia’s flogging of the Proteas – they do sound like flower boys don’t they (rather like when the Hawks were Mayblooms) – to the tune of 5-482 on day one, a once-in-a-century experience, the sort of experience that has every ham cricket follower reaching for the end of the St Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V and quoting that anyone who missed out ‘shall think themselves accursed they were not here’.


After all of that, yesterday was always going to be a regression to the mean, nearly 200 runs less scored in the day as Australia was dismissed for 550 and South Africa reached a sober 2-217 in reply. The pundits would say the match was evenly poised but they would say that wouldn’t they?


And speaking of ham cricket followers causes me to reflect on their being several classes of that breed: the T20 yobs in whose company I wouldn’t be seen dead; the tragics and the traditionalists who are so earnest about supporting Oz and Cricket Oz and revering the Baggy Green they’re a trifle bore and not much company either.


Then there are the aficionados among whom I number myself. The trouble is half the aficionados misspell the word with two ‘f’s’ and so must be immediately excluded. Sad, but they put me in mind of a keen young fellow who entered the Adelaide Oval Museum when I was curator a few years ago and immediately declared, ‘I’m an iconoclast.’ ‘I hope not’, I replied, keeping my eyes glued on the life-size plaster bust of 19th century venerable, Sir Edwin Smith, who appeared to represent the easiest of targets.


Finally, I’ve recently learned there is a new group of neo-traditionalists who despise T20s but are caught in their admiration of the 50 over game. There’s something to be said in their favour I suppose.


Last night I was dining with a group of aficionados (one ‘f’), it was after 10 o’clock and I was getting a little grumpy when one of our group ordered a cup of tea when I was ready to go to bed. Five-day Tests take a lot out of you: all day at the game in energy-draining muggy 35 degree weather; a long walk to the car parked on the other side of the golf course – because who’s going to be ripped off by the Council for 15 bucks each day to park at the northern end of the Oval or Pinky Flat?; the inevitable sojourn to a nearby North Adelaide pub; then dinner and good cricket talk. Don’t get me wrong, this is what I value about the game: the friendships, the sociability, the after-match get-togethers five days in a row but it can be wearing, wearying. It requires stamina.


Or a break.


Psychological studies on attentiveness have shown that university students retain more knowledge from their lectures if their teachers take a five minute break halfway through their hour. The students’ interest which has begun to flag about the halfway point immediately picks up after the interval.


My aficionado friend (one ‘f’) from interstate is aghast when I tell him I’m going to have a rest half-day by skipping the morning session on day three. My friend cannot bear to miss seeing a ball bowled because he regards a Test match as being like a symphony or a five act Shakespearean play. To him, I’m missing Act 3 Scenes 1 and 2.


I have an inner defence which I do not reveal. I’m going to be a like the uni student whose attentiveness peaks when I return. Or I’m going to be like the Wednesday afternoon golfer who breaks his working week at Kooyonga and either stitches up a good deal or promotes his productivity.


I argue to my aficionado friend that a rest day is an honourable tradition, that for most of Test cricket history we allowed rest days but he doesn’t want to hear me. I raise the romance of the old Sundays of Adelaide Tests which used to be spent at Yalumba winery and all those brief  liaisons (social and megasociall) between Test players (Australian and overseas) and local socialites which once graced the cricket calendar. I think of Garry Sobers also at Melbourne in the New Year Rest of the World ‘Test’ of 1972. On the Saturday night, 139 not out. On the Monday morning 115 more glorious runs. In between at Victoria Golf Club he bogeyed the first two holes and still shot 75 (three over par). Those were the days!


But my friend is so resistant to my views on tradition that I’m beginning to recategorise him. He’s about to lose the ‘aficionado’ tag and I think even ‘traditionalist’ will have to go as well. The man’s a modernist, and he also attends too many 50 over matches for my liking. He might never be a neo-traditionalist but maybe something worse, a post-modernist!


The phone rings. It’s another friend who should know better than to ring me at home when there’s a Test match on. He’s a bit of a traditionalist and he rings to apologise for not being able to attend a dinner I’m organising for a few buffs tonight. I wonder why he’s not at the game either. He asks whether I’ve heard the score.


I haven’t.


Proteas 7-259.


Batting like Mayblooms.


About Bernard Whimpress

Freelance historian (mainly sport) who has just written his 40th book. Will accept writing commissions with reasonable pay. Among his most recent books are George Giffen: A Biography, The Towns: 100 Years of Glory 1919-2018, Joe Darling: Cricketer, Farmer, Politician and Family Man (with Graeme Ryan) and The MCC Official Ashes Treasures (5th edition).


  1. Re iconoclasts..I owned a garden shop once upon a time and after a while mastered the wry smile needed when the response to a question of “Can I help you?” was often,”No thanks,I’m just browsing..”

  2. bernard whimpress says

    Thanks Greg

    I missed your point but then when I delivered the above as a semi-standup on Saturday night I’m not sure anyone understood my original remark about iconoclasts either. We might both be too clever (or too dumb) for our own good.


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