Congratulations on Australia winning the Cricket World Cup. Despite not following this sport I am always glad when an Australian team wins a top tournament.
In my previous post I did state that in my opinion the Australian cricket team is not reflective of the current cultural diversity of Australia. Nevertheless cricket remains is a very important aspect of not only sporting culture but Australian culture as a whole. It was a sport that defined Australia, especially as a way to differentiate itself from the mother country. Australia might have been “British to the bootstraps” as Menzies said, but it loved beating the Poms.
I had no concept of the game of cricket before I came to Australia. It happened that my first Australian summer of 1974- 75 the Ashes were on. All I remember in the haze of that first summer Christmas, was that every time I turned ABC TV on there seems to be this game on. I remember my family asking ourselves if these were different matches played over days. We were aghast when at a work Christmas party we were told that in fact it was one match over five days.
It was when we came to Melbourne four years later than I decided to understand this game. This early Melbourne period constituted my ‘assimilation period’ I had another chance to make this country my own and therefore try to participate in the Australian society. I liked Australian Rules immediately, so cricket was next.
I would watch an hour or so of test cricket on TV. I would listen to it on the radio. A friend of mine drew the positions names on a transparency sheet so I could stuck it on the inside of my windscreen and take a quick peak when they talked about ‘backward point’ or ‘deep square leg’. Of course I was living where the cathedral of cricket, the MCG, was located. My late brother in law was a MCG member, a legacy of when his mother put his name down on the waiting list during the 1956 Olympics. So he and I went to see a couple of day matches (one against India I remember) and I also went to a test match on the day after Boxing Day.
But despite all my efforts the game did not grip me.
It gave me an appreciation of it. I understood what a tactical game it is. The fact that the ball and the pitch change their characteristics over time and therefore tactics need to change. The fact that captains have to change the way they place their players depending on what they see the strengths and weaknesses of a player. Whether to use fast bowling or spin. But for me what impressed me most were the batsmen. I can’t think of any other sport where you are facing an opponent on your own (apart the other batsmen who is opposite, but apart from running can’t really help you when you are facing a bowler) with twelve members of the opposing team around you (and a wicketkeeper just behind, ready to pounce). In other team sports you have your team mates around you. In cricket all of them bar one are looking at you from a balcony. It is truly a test of character.
And of course I can understand why a test game is a ‘test’. Standing on a field for hours (especially if it is sunny an hot) and maintain concentration for a whole day is an effort that requires Guru qualities.
But somehow the game’s ebbs and flows couldn’t sustain enough interest for me. So I stopped trying. Sport is supposed to be fun, not hard work.
Maybe is my Italian background. When my team, AC Milan, was formed by the Englishman Alfred Ormonde Edwards, he named it as ‘ Milan Foot-Ball and Cricket Club’. But once the Italians starting running the club the cricket was quickly forgotten (despite this Italy has a Cricket Federation which is an associate member of the International Cricket Council).
In the words of 10cc I may not ‘love cricket’ but at least I gave it a go.