Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Ashes

When I was eight, my father took me to the Gabba for the first time.

Then, it was a sort of park affair with bench seats where there were seats it and a railway line that ran through the five ways and the workers from the nearby industry would gather by the scoreboard gate after work to get a glimpse of the action. The fence was of white palings and the grass was a stupendous green colour the likes of which I'd never seen before.

The sounds though, are the things that really stand out in the memory.

The sound of bat on ball, of willow striking leather, and the occasional call from the crowd to "have a go" or perhaps something witty that was beyond the understanding of an eight year old, but which left a muffled titter rippling through the crowd like the Mexican Wave would do many years later, and the crisp, gentle applause after a ball had been well bowled or a ball returned over the bails from near the boundary.

There was a particular kind of food too, a biscuit-cake affair that Mum made, a sensational thing made with "bought" biscuits layered in a tin filled with a chocolate and copha mix that cooled to result in something ever so much better than the modern Tim Tam. It may be that it was only be once or twice that we carried that particular delicacy with us, but to me, that recipe is synonymous with the Gabba.

It occurred to me as I began to write this, that yesterday I clocked up my half-century of going to the cricket, a feat which would these days attract a short standing applause were it a batting score, but sadly my lack of aptitude for the game put that particular experience well beyond my reach.

Much has changed of course. There are seats, and tickets and security people, and grandstands lining the entire ground, and the pitch hasn't been visible from Vulture Street for decades, but the sounds remain untouched.

The sounds of the first few minutes of the first test are always to script.

A subdued clap as the opposition team takes to the field, a roar when ours does, chatter as the bowler marks his stride, a hush but not silence as he walks back to his mark.

The crowd wants to be quiet but it can't contain it's excitement.

The bowler runs in as the not quite silence builds to even less. 

There is a crack, the ball has been struck, the game has begun.

The crowd gently erupts, pacing itself for the day ahead.

Summer is here.


Julie said...

Lovely story, Peter. And it includes 'Vulture Street' which is one of the better names for a street that I have encountered.

bitingmidge said...

Thanks Julie, and I agree re Vulture Street.

The game would not be the same without "The Vulture Street End".

cara said...

How are you going with your divided loyalties, Peter? Many of my Aussie friends think I should be supporting Australia now that I have become a citizen... but I just can't do it. Needless to say it's pretty bloody painful all round.

bitingmidge said...

I think it's pretty well resolved Cara.

It's my Welsh heritage you see, there's an ingrained "lack of support" for the English that keeps me in good staid.

Now if it was a British Team playing I may have a problem! ;-)

diane b said...

Great description of the game, one that I don't understand. Applaud for you attending for 50 years that does deserve an accolade. Love the Aussie colours. Enjoy the test!

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