Some thoughts on a Summer of Cricket

Some thoughts on a Summer of Cricket…


Phil Hughes:

Phil Hughes’ terrible death at the end of November 2014 set the tone of the summer. From such a sad event came the stepping up of our Captain Michael Clarke. He led the team and Australian public, sporting and otherwise, through Phil’s hospitalisation, through his death, through the funeral and then slowly, back onto the field of the game that Phil and his mates love. Phil was so present in the first games that the bat was raised to the heavens over and over again, as Australian players used the force of their grief to spur them on. This has not changed all summer, and in all the games from Big Bash, Test cricket, One Day Cricket and the Cricket World Cup 2015.

Phil Hughes was in my mind through most of last night, followed by promptly bursting into tears when the final runs were scored. Tears of relief for the team, and of gratitude for the way they all stood up and held up for all this time. Thank you all.

Summer of Cricket:

It’s been a long summer of Cricket. All forms of the game were played all over Australia from November to March. Then in Australia and New Zealand for the Cricket World Cup 2015 for the last six weeks. The Cricket world got to watch “the minnows” play and we fell in love with the cricket through the eyes of small countries, as well as watching the magnificent display of love from local Indians, Pakistanis, Afghanis, South Africans, West Indians, Bangladeshis, those from the UAE, Zimbabweans, Sri Lankans, Scottish, Irish, English (who became a minnow team to their country) and New Zealanders. The colour and music and noise of huge crowds of Indians and others, in the Test, and then in the World Cup, was a highlight. What topped it off for me was to see the number of Indian and other faces in Aussie colours at the CWC#15 Final on Sunday. These wonderful lovers of cricket brought their spirits to their resident country and cheered the Australian team to victory. Bless their souls.

Surprise Games:

We’ve watched some smashing cricket, the two semi-finals of the CWC#15 were highlights, tough games, the best of the finals with the game between Australia and New Zealand nowhere near the contest we were expecting. It often happens in Grand Finals of AFL too, the best, most equalising games are often the Preliminaries. I didn’t watch as many of the earlier games, but there were some ripping games reported as the fans fell in love with the effort and spirit of the smaller cricketing nations.

The Shane Warne Factor:

Always an interesting fella to say the least, Shane commentating over the summer is both brilliantly knowledgeable yet ultimately very “boyish”. His comments post final showed he felt closer to being one of the lads ready to celebrate than a commentator, one step removed, and that he still longs to be part of the party rather than the observer of them. To be fair, he has never claimed to be a journalist or a broadcaster, he’s just always Shane so we shouldn’t really be that surprised. He’s into the fun of life and all HE wanted to do was to go get smashed with the team. It was an observation or projection of his own wish, as it was never really going to be anything but a celebration for the Australians. Unfortunately, his attention to this made it as if booze was the only benefit, rather than pride in the team’s hard work, their self-belief, satisfaction in a job well done, and pleasure in a summer to be well celebrated but also to be well remembered for the underside – that life can also be brutal and all too brief for some.

The World Rooting for New Zealand:

It is understandable, given the way Aussies can overplay the aggressive aspect of celebration (and dismissals), that others would support the underdog. The New Zealand team played brilliantly all through the Series, and were undone at the MCG, and by the Australians that had planned this brutal slaying from the outset. New Zealand were also playing for their former Test Cricket Captain Martin Crowe, who is very unwell. The Australians were just so much more proficient with bat and ball, and with the tension of it all.

Mitchell Starc told the interviewer (a real interviewer and not someone wanting a drink) after the game that that first over was planned by him and his fast bowling coach, Craig McDermott. I watched that first over, it was an awesome display of concentrated brilliance and aggression and Brendon McCullum was completely undone and it showed in his style of play and his 5th ball wicket. New Zealand were seen as good blokes, hard workers and good for their country, an alternative group of Kiwis to be proud of, to take their place beside the All Blacks. After the hand reaching out to the despondent South African player after they were defeated, the Kiwis were seen as a bunch of gentlemen rather than the bullies that the Australians come close to being (at their worst).

I noted to myself yesterday that it was a crap day for New Zealand sports fans; they lost the rugby and the soccer to Australian teams yesterday. They won my and others’ hearts though for being the most gracious losing Captain and team I have seen for a while. Well done the Kiwis. Even the front of your newspapers showed pride and not the kind of ruthlessness shown in other countries when their national team comes second in a championship (I am talking to you, England).

The Fans:

What a brilliant summer for fans of the game. One of the officials said over one million people had come to the CWC#15 games in Australia and New Zealand over the past six weeks. That is extraordinary. It may be their best numbers yet. And to have the final in Melbourne, the city which prides itself of being the SPORTING CAPITAL OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE, was pure genius. Where else would we have got those numbers in safely through the gates? Transported and searched, and seated and fed. Can you believe that the CWC#15 final had 90,013 people, in bright yellow or black, cheering throughout the game? Mitchell Starc and the commentator noted the roar of the crowd when he got that first wicket moments into the game. If there’d been a roof on the MCG, it would have been blown off by the energy and excitement.

And the crowd stayed and joined in the celebrations afterwards, hearing the awards, watching the happiness below and around them, and the fireworks. The MCG/MCC did a magnificent job of the lighting around the ground, and of the graphics that adorned the screens, it felt truly that it represented so many countries and colours. Thankfully, Channel Nine stayed too, and allowed the final moments to be broadcast for everyone. There’s a lot been said about Channel Nine commentary over summer, how us-centric it has been, but this final had a great range of voices and is the way of the future, please! Well done all.

Michael Clarke’s last ODI game:

Having watched Lenny Hayes announce his resignation last year, and then see the Saints come out to belt the clear favourites, Fremantle, made Michael Clarke’s actions understandable. Sometimes, someone announcing their retirement beforehand acts as a spur, both for him and for the team. And he was able to settle himself and play a wonderful captain’s game. His tactics never let New Zealand think, and it reminded me of that wonderful game where the St. Kilda Football Club attacked from the first second and didn’t let up. (Another example of that pressure was the last Grand Final between Hawthorn and Sydney Swans. The Hawks dominated rather than “just” won.) That’s what this game felt like, the pressure was on from the first ball, and it worked a treat. And then to come out and get his highest batting score for the series, to have this chance to show us all, to remind us why Cricket Australia, his coach Darren Lehmann, and his teammates, have such faith in him, why he has so much faith in himself when many of us doubted, well, he was very classy. And skilled. And we all wanted to see him there until the final ball. It was not to be.

New Stars:

This summer has bought with it new energy for the Australian cricket soul, and the One Day selections. We have watched the coming of age of Steve Smith, in all sorts of roles, Mitchell Starc (man of the series), the continued brilliance and fierceness of Mitchell Johnson and of Glenn Maxwell’s skill with bat and ball, and our new closing batsman hero James Faulkner who is a magnificent bowler and changed this final altogether with his three quick wickets (and was man of the match for just that). David Warner proved ever colourful and powerful, Aaron Finch was never quite right, Shane Watson was in and out but towards the end proved strong and steady, Brad Haddin remained vital, and took some amazing catches and Josh Hazelwood troubled all who stood in his way with a bat.

I apologise to all other teams, and our others players from 20/20 to Test to Sheffield, for a lack of any analysis and in-depth coverage of their strengths and weaknesses. This is a very blinkered report. I do thank you all for a brilliant six weeks of wonderful cricket, as well as the months before.

In Our Own Backyard:

A final word on the honour of having this event at our place. Hosting the CWC#15 meant that our country could not only enjoy and experience these games at a time and place that suited us in terms of attendance and viewing, it meant we were able to play host in a number of ways (along with our New Zealand brethren) which was good for cricket in Australia and New Zealand.

PS: I may still not know all the terms of fielding around the ground (Long Off, Extra Cover, Backward Square leg, Leg Gully, and Deep Forwards, thanks Swish) but I feel I know more about the types of bowling, the positions of bowling and its relationship to particular fielding positions. And the silly positions just speak for themselves. With the kind of bowling that we saw throughout the six weeks, some of those positions should be called “mad” instead.

The End of the Cricket:

Just means one thing in Melbourne. Footy starts in 4 days. Bring it on.


Yvette Wroby

30th March 2015



About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.

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