Monday, 11 March 2013

A bit of old England?

Well actually, no!  There is a cricket pitch surrounded by elm trees and acres of grass stretching away from the ground, dotted with enormous trees spreading their branches to make cool pools of green shade.  "Howzat" is cried out loud but the umpire is unmoved.  His head shakes solemnly from side to side in disagreement.  The fielders return to their posts and the batsman to his crease.  It all sounds very British (except for the elm trees because they have vanished from our green and pleasant land) but this, dear reader, is cricket in central Melbourne.  It's a great cricket square, a stone's throw from the Shrine of Remembrance.  
The sound of the crack of leather on willow is an abiding memory for me.  It's a sound I first heard in my home village of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire.  I spent my childhood playing on and around the cricket green with my cousins and village friends.  We climbed on the big grass roller and crawled around in a deep grassy ditch that runs along the north side of the ground.  I would like to think local children still do that but suspect they don't as it's all been tidied up and become rather less countrified these days.  

On the other side of the world, my son plays for a cricket team with a difference!  They play with enthusiasm and competitiveness but at that point the similarity between this team and all the others in the league ends.  They don't go in for training, warming up or any kind of preparation. They get out there and play, and generally win.  Not surprisingly this seems to generate a fair amount of irritation from the other teams.  The team motto is shown below!
And any player who goofs up - drops a catch for example, gets to wear this, on and off the field, until the next chap slips up!
With a couple of cans of lager under their belts they are primed and ready to go.
It can be serious stuff though, especially when things go a big awry and dreams are a little lost. Gloves, pads and bat go flying and the 180 second warning is given. "180 seconds and then shut up".  A generous temper allowance when all toys can be thrown out of the pram and thereafter equilibrium is regain.  My son, as a child, punched a hole in his bedroom wall in temper so when he was wrongly judged and given out by the umpire his team mates called to me "Mrs Gaucho, I suggest you stand back"!

The cricket club tea is probably a bit too genteel for this band of merry men!  Bring on the barbie and beer.  I am handed a mug full of chilled South Australian wine which went down a treat.  I must say it's a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a Saturday Melbourne afternoon and next weekend the team are in the finals.  We are keeping our fingers crossed for a resounding triumph. Either way, you can be sure that the hospitality will be flowing and I'm looking forward to it all!

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