Big and Little Cricket

I’ve watched and heard a lot of cricket this summer. I probably saw at least a bit of every day of the Ashes and often much more. It works well to do the ironing with the cricket on. However, by the time the series finished in Sydney, some cricket weariness had set in.

There was a decent pause before the One Day matches started but I found it hard to get interested in the first one at the MCG. It seemed an anti-climax after the subtleties of the five day game. But then, up jumped the finish of the second one at the Gabba. There was a count-down of runs and balls, magnificent sixes right up into the stands, the white ball floating high through the night sky, and then the final four to win the match. It energised the end of yet another hot day.

I used to play cricket in the street as a girl but have actually only followed it since 2005. It’s been interesting trying to work out what qualities make a One Day player or a Twenty Twenty player as compared to what’s needed to be successful at Test level.

So, that’s been the Big Cricket.

We’ve had varying degrees of little cricket on the park down here at Cape Paterson. Just before Christmas, we had the annual Pirates versus the Turbines match, a work Christmas break up event, complete with banners at the ground and slung up at the entrance to the Cape. Big blue eskies dotted the ground and it was a loud, roaring day.

There have been groups of young men, their girlfriends, family groups of varying ages and sizes and dads bowling patiently to kids wielding plastic bats. The boy from up the road, would walk down with a plastic wicket over his shoulder to have a hit with his friends after dinner. People drift up the gravel roads, come on their bikes or load into cars with babies, chairs, eskies and dogs. The dog can be an important fielder.

The common factor in all these games is the intensity: the roar of the bowlers and fielders, the shouted instructions, “Get it, Nana!”, and the huge sense of fun. Even though we don’t hear all this on a televised match, we see the shouting and I’m sure it’s pretty much what we hear from our house across from the oval.

I just heard a shrill cheer and looked up to see through the trees a boy in blue shorts, arms in the air, running down the concrete wicket. There’s a brown corgi walking sedately through the middle of the game. I think this is the third match played out there today.

You can see a thread drawn from the game played with plastic bat and wicket through all forms right up to Test matches. It’s the same link between hitting a tennis ball against the wall and the Australian Open, Sabots and ocean racers, kick-the- kick in the street and the AFL Grand Final. There’s a very simple starting point whose elements are still at the core of the most complex form of the sport. The development from innocence to experience is accompanied by the same enjoyment, excitement and hope that’s in every park, beach or backyard game ever played.

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