I’m sitting in the Southern Upper at the Gabba devouring a barbeque chicken with Shorn Lowry. We both freely admit that we are more excited about feasting on the bird than the cricket. Warner hits a belter, straight to the boundary, but I’m more interested in my drumstick.
The first of the One Day finals, Australia versus Sri Lanka, was a ripper match. It had everything; impressive one-handed catches on the boundary; balls smashed out of the ground for six; rowdy Sri Lankan supporters; a jump-out-of-your-seat finish; and, of course, beachballs.
There’s no need to stop reading if you’re unfamilair with cricket and perhaps missed out on the six-and-out, one-hand-one-bounce fun we had as kids. This is more a post about the off-field shenanigans. For me, the crowd’s antics are the sole reason to hoof it to the stadium. Let’s face it, you do get a better view on the telly.
The atmosphere though, is where it’s at.
I’ve never seen more Sri Lankan flags flapping and Sri Lankan people chanting. They have a pretty imposing flag, too, with the reds and oranges and a big bloody Lion staring at you. The commotion the away-fans created tonight was reminiscent of someone giving birth. There were drums, tambourines, hand-painted signs. A cannon, even. In my opinion the ruckus surpassed the Swarmy Army and the Barmy Army. Only South American soccer fans have showed me more enthusiasm.
For the home team, the local lads often provide a bit of an ambience.
The guy behind me, for instance, insisted on commentating the entire match. “That’s wide,” he’d say, very laconically. Or “that’s a four.” The match did include several fours and wides, but never when he called them. He was determined to give me a bum steer. I’m not sure if he was trying to trick me, but I was decidedly confused about the match whenever I tuned into his observations.
In fact, I spent much of the game confusedly trying to understand the field placings.
I successfully used the phrase “that was a good cover drive,” in context early on in the match and fancied myself a cricket buff. I was determined to know more so I could one day trade the grandstand for the plush commentary booth. With Lowry’s assistance I managed to lock down Off Stump and Leg Stump. Long On and Long Off followed relatively easily.
Mid Wicket and Square Leg is where it all started going wrong. They are in exactly the same place.
But it did not stop there. “What’s the difference between Fine Leg and Deep Backwards Square,” I demand of Lowry, “they’re the bloody same thing.”
“About 20 metres,” he answers, a smug grin on his face. He loves knowing about these things.
After half an hour’s extra tuition, I think I’ve got it. I can name almost all of the cricketers and their possies. I even know their numbers.
Without warning, however, the batsman changes and it all goes awry. Left-handedness and right-handedness have never created such crucial changes. Except maybe in golf.
Fine Leg, or was it Deep Backward Square, is now the Third Man and there’s another dude up near the First Slip.
“Who’s that,” I ask. “Oh dear. It’s a new one.” Lowry puts his head in his hands. “That’s the Gully,” he tells me, a note of resignation in his voice.
I do the maths and there’s still about two hours left before we’ll be clinging to the edge of our seats. I change tactics.
Despite my obviously inferior cricket knowledge, Shorn Lowry, did not mind making a few bets with me.
We wagered icecreams on how high Australia’s tally would be. The drumsticks were my shout.
Then we bet on when the game would finish. I owe Lowry a bloody dinner for that one.
Just for good measure I decided to back Sri Lanka. They were down and out for a while, but teased me with a come-back and hit some brilliant runs. Ultimately, however, I’ve also been charged with mowing the lawn this week.
Really, I’m lucky to get away without owing an oven clean and a car wash.
A big shout out to Amber for the tickets. Thank you!
Photo from ESPN Cricinfo