Second Test – Day 3: Happy wife, happy life

‘Does your ring feel tighter today?’

We’re heading down the freeway towards Essendon DFO and my intense listening to ABC’s coverage has been interrupted by the above query from my wife of nearly 7 days.

Of course, she was wondering how the 30+ degree weather was affecting my fingers and therefore the comfort around my new hardware, but I chose to point out that I was a lot more relaxed than I was at this time last week when a combination of the previous night’s Brunswick Bitter, my morning coffee and pre-match nerves had sent me to the gents on multiple occasions.

Having been lucky enough to receive some cash for our wedding, we were spending the morning looking at dining tables, bedroom furniture, mattresses and anything else that jumped out.

With two BBQs to attend in the afternoon, one in Northcote, one in Altona, my TV time was going to be limited so the ABC was going to provide most of the insights.

The discussion for the morning centered around South Africa not having lost a test when G Smith scores a ton.  This didn’t surprise me as he tends to make big scores and often slow ones too. Henry Lawson and Glen Maxwell were speaking of him in glowing terms and I couldn’t help but think of how the perception of Smith here has changed. On his first tour, he was painted as a bullish, hard headed and selfish player by the press. I thought that was harsh and decided I liked him when after dropping a skied catch during a 20/20 game in which he was miked up, he said that the ball bounced out because his chest was too big.

We got out of the car with South Africa cruising at 2-for and I didn’t get the feeling I would miss much whilst shopping.

The next couple of hours was spent scanning various furniture and bedding stores with little luck. It seemed that my unwillingness to buy from any salesperson I didn’t like was holding us back. The comment of ‘maybe we need a personal shopper’ confirmed this. I make no apologies for not wanting to buy a mattress off a bloke with a sweaty brow in a cheap suit who it seems that seeing my wife try out his products would have been the highlight of his week. Fortunately, we eventually settled on a mattress and salesperson that we found comfortable and we were back in the car.

The radio commentary revealed that Kallis was at the crease, but having forgotten about his earlier injury, I took this to mean that only one wicket had fallen so I admittedly tuned out as we had to summarise our trip. I also struggle to engage when Drew Morphett is commentating. I totally understand the renaissance of Peter Donegan, but the appeal of Drew escapes me. After lengthy discussions around our dining table needs and whether we would really use an extendable version, I overheard that it had ‘been Australia’s morning, with 5 wickets tumbling’. Of course, I was now fully engaged with the commentary. With the new state of the game, any mention of the score by the commentators included a reference to how many the visitors needed to avoid the follow on, which would immediately be followed by a comment suggesting that Australia wouldn’t enforce it anyway. This prompted the following exchange in the car…

“So what is the follow on again?”

“If they finish 200 or more behind, we can ask them to bat again”

“But they probably won’t right?”

“They definitely won’t. It goes back to an Australia v India test in Kolkata in 2001….”

“Then why do they keep talking about it? Can’t believe you remember that stuff….”

Soon we were back home for an hour or so to prepare for our afternoon functions. The first BBQ was BYO drinks, the second was BYO drinks and salad. Realising already that marriage is about teamwork, I identified a couple of sixers and some bottles of bubbly from the fridge that could be taken. With this task complete, I caught up on the 5 dismissals whilst the salad was being prepared. Rudolph (loose shot), Smith (unlucky), De Villiers (worst review of the summer), Steyn (sharp catch Punter) and Kleinveldt (wtf?). In amongst all of this was former captain Mark Taylor playing with some large novelty iPad in order to explain various plays.

The remainder of this prep time was spent admiring the work of J Kallis. With his hamstring having given way, Kallis had clearly been instructed to either smash fours or walk singles. Not since Tony Lockett had been told not to leave the goalsquare had a method of play come so naturally. Having done my own share of soft tissues over the journey, I couldn’t help but admire the way he ducked under bouncers and just stood and delivered from the crease. The ICC gets a lot wrong but the decision to ban runners is a good one. Whilst the Arjuna Ranatunga example is one that is often used, I have memories of Dean Jones coming out from the rooms to assist an injured David Boon in a day nighter against the Kiwis in the early 90s. Special guest Sir Richard Hadlee was livid in the commentary box.

As BBQ #1 took us from Brunswick to Northcote, there wasn’t much to catch up on via the ABC. The highlight of the trip was driving past the residence of JT Harms. After pointing out the house, the comment received was “Ha! Good location. Though that’s not the pub he drinks at is it?”

Unfortunately the main TV at this first function was being used primarily for the races and with various catch ups to complete, a couple of hours went by with little to no update. I’ve since discovered that the skipper made things happen by firstly claiming Kallis’ wicket (with similar timing to his capture of Tendulkar in Sydney last year) and finally snuffing out du Plessis’ campaign for a debut hundred with a sharp catch at (very) short mid on. Now that’s captaincy.

For our trip from Northcote to Altona, we’re able to rejoin the team about 30min or so into the Aussie innings. The subject of discussion is the bowling figures of Imran Tahir and the fact he was approaching 200 runs without taking a wicket. The fact there have been no requests for clarification and instead a ‘wow’ has come from the passenger seat shows the enormity of this ineptitude. Suddenly, this derision turns into celebration as Cowan gifts a catch to the infield and Tahir celebrates his first wicket. Unfortunately, Billy Bowden checks whether it was a no-ball and indeed it is. Geoff Lawson calls it a ‘career ending no-ball’. I’m more of the opinion that the 200 runs previously were probably more ‘career ending’ but Henry has a few more tests than me.

As we get on the Bolte Bridge, Warner is dismissed and Quiney comes to the crease. My bride has taken an interest in Quiney. I think it’s nothing more than wanting to see the new guy, the new Victorian guy, do well. She’s all over the fact that he has been taking catches and bowling a tight line (she didn’t like it when Jim Maxwell said that ‘he just keeps hitting the middle of the bat’ though), but is well aware that he needs runs. With the commentary surrounding him being on a pair, the tension is palpable. That tension is eased somewhat when he gets through the first ball, but as he snicks one through to the keeper on the second and Jim Maxwell erupts, my passenger is crestfallen. I quickly check that the doors are locked as we head over the west gate and onto our destination.

Our final function is a backyard affair, so I’m kept abreast of the remaining day’s play via various folk ducking inside to check the score. I hear that Ponting again fell cheaply and that Clarke and Hussey are in at stumps. Although I would’ve loved to have followed the day’s play more closely, I’m happy to have ticked off some tasks and caught up with good folk without missing the day’s narrative.

It’s only from following up on the scores this morning that I find that although Clarke and Hussey are at the crease, we are actually 5-for due to Siddle being knocked over as night-watchman. I’m glad we weren’t in the car for that one. I can imagine how the conversation would go:

“So, explain to me the night-watchman again?”

“Well, if a wicket falls late in the day, they send out a tailender to protect the next batsman”

“How is that ‘protecting’ him?’

“Well it can be tough to bat knowing you don’t have long to go and the bowlers are usually at full steam”

“So, because it’s tough, they send in a guy that can’t bat?”



About Andrew Else

Andrew has self-reported to this site as a lifetime Essendon supporter. He also played local footy for Lara and Melbourne Uni Blacks.


  1. I love the innocent questions that can’t be answed: “They send in a guy that can’t bat?”
    The follow-on: “Why do they keep talking about it?”
    Love it

  2. Jeff Dowsing says

    I empathise with anyone struggling to come to terms with the nuances of test cricket – as long as they don’t ask the groan inducing ‘who’s winning’ question!

    I’m with you Andrew on old Drew. Listening to him for an hour or so the other day I was all out of groans.

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    ‘Who’s winning?’ makes my back stiffen every time.

  4. … so many questions. Must’ve been one of those days.

  5. The appeal of Drew escapes you, Andrew, because there is no appeal.
    He seems like a ripping bloke, but Drew’s lack of feel for cricket is matched
    only by his lack of feel for footy.

  6. Peter Schumacher says

    Drew’s not that bad, surely?

    Please discuss, “What is a wicket?”

  7. John Butler says

    I’ll support Mr Schumacher on this one. There’s plenty to deal with before Drew

    cf: Healy, Slater, Lee, most Sydney based commentators who insist on relentlessly pushing the cause of NSW players to the exclusion of all others…

  8. Jeff Dowsing says

    Yes JB, you can certainly add Henry Lawson & Kerry O’Keefe to the NSW fan club.

    But golly gosh gee willakers Drew is hard work.

  9. Andrew Starkie says

    Yep, sure he’s a good bloke but Drew is hard work. Foreign callers on ABC radio are always good. This SA pair are great. So articulate.

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