Silly Point

October 13, 2011

Isn’t it nice that there is a different form of cricket for different kinds of people?

Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground


There are those who take a strategic view of life. These folk have careers rather than jobs; they would far rather play bridge or chess than poker or snakes and ladders. For them test match cricket is the summer game of choice. Just as in real life, there is many a slip twixt wicket-keeper and gully. The entire fortune of the match could easily turn on a single decision – to declare or not to declare, to set an attacking field or to defend the boundaries, take the new ball or keep the spinners in the attack. They can watch every ball of a five day test match, all 2,700 of them, and not be bored for an instant. They appreciate the almost superhuman courage and stamina, both physical and mental, of the batsman (never batter, please, that’s what angry and cowardly men do to their wives, or the substance in which fish is coated preparatory to frying) who can withstand a barrage of fast, short-pitched bowling for six hours at a stretch, and come back the next day and do it all again.
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Cricket Bag

November 19, 2009


Time hangs heavy when one is in exile and it is the weekend. That is why, a Sunday or two ago, I found myself in a place I never dreamed I’d visit. A romantic place: a place where Camparis were first tasted, a breeding ground for gorgeous Oscar-winning stars. Benoni. Doesn’t the mere sound of those three syllables quicken the blood, fill the head with foolish fantasies and…never mind, me neither, but we’ve got to try.

My reason for being there was that I have a hobby, one that has afforded me enormous joy since boyhood. I rarely get to indulge my pleasure when I’m home because Scallywag does not, for some inexplicable reason, share my enthusiasm and I am keener on her than on watching cricket.

Willowmoore Park is a pretty ground. The spectator area is mainly grass embankments upon which people set up their deck chairs, plastic gazebos and picnic blankets. There is a small area at the North end of the ground with standard grandstand plastic seating, which is where I went because it is more or less behind the bowler’s arm in line with the pitch—the best place from which to watch, and I don’t possess a deck chair. It was a beautiful, hot summer day.

The game began. Zimbabwe had won the toss and put us in to bat. Things were going fine, especially after that gum-chewing, spitting buffoon Smith was out, predictably by waving his bat ineffectually at a ball wide of the off stump. Will he never learn? AB DeVilliers was in fine form, as was Hashim Amla. The seat beside me, which had hitherto been empty was suddenly filled by a lady in yellow. “HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-OO. COME ON BOOOYES! HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-OO.”

I cringed. A symptom of what dread psychiatric disease could this possibly be? Could this awful howling mean that I was sitting beside a werewolf who had perhaps mistaken the Sun for a full moon? And to which boys was she referring? Her clothing gave no clue; she waved no flag. Perhaps she was unaware that there were two teams doing battle on the field and both were composed exclusively of boys.
“HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-OOOoo” She ran out of breath, then hauled another couple of lungsful aboard. “BOOOOOYES!”

This was intolerable. What happened to the traditional cricket shouts such as “HIT THE RUBBISH!” or “HEY UMPIRE! YOUR GUIDE DOG GRAZED MY HAMBURGER!” I gathered up my esky and started to trek 180 degrees around the ground to the South side where the caterwauling might be less intrusive. As I walked I recalled that I had heard something similar in a televised American reality show. When a man whom the female members of the audience deemed sexy came onto the stage, they started howling in the same manner as the cricket lady. So could this be a sign of sexual excitement? None of the women I have known have impersonated an escapee from the island of Dr Moreau, not even when I have taken my clothes off.

Perhaps it’s just that I’m not very sexy.

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Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.