Friday, 12 January 2007

My memories of the tri-series

The first time I can remember watching a match from the annual Australian tri-series was in 1982/3. I had been dragged by my parents to a BBQ and quickly got sick of having to interact with kids who were either older than me or girls. I retreated into the lounge and claimed a bean-bag near the telly. The lounge had been full earlier in the afternoon, but it had begun to empty as the New Zealand team collapsed to 44/6 chasing Australia's 300. I wasn't really interested in cricket, and I was secretly wishing that the match would be over quickly so I could see what else was on (and probably hoping it was CHiPs). I did have a bit of interest though and knew who my favourite player was - Lance Cairns. So when Lance heaved a ball into the boiling and bubbling masses of the MCG crowd I was excited enough to yell out for my Dad. He stepped away from the barbie outside, peered in through the ranch-slider, smiled patiently, said something and then disappeared again. Then Cairns started hitting more sixes. With each new hit I called out to tell Dad, and with each one he spent more and more time at the ranch-slider. Other men began to join him. The lounge filled back up again. The next few overs are still vivid in my mind. Cairns hitting the ball into the crowd with one hand. Dennis Lillee shaking his head in disbelief. The Australians who had seemed so commanding and in control only a few moments earlier suddenly looking like hunted rabbits. The lounge bubbling over with excited talk and men with beer in their hands ("did you see that? One handed!").

It was all over in only 21 balls and then the lounge went quiet as the men went back to the sun and the burnt meat outside. But for a few minutes I felt like I was part of something really big. It wasn't just Lance Cairns that drew them inside - I was the one who called them. I wasn't just part of that magical male and grown-up moment, I helped make it.

By 1987/88 rolled around I was a newly minted cricket fanatic. My best memory from that series is of Dipak Patel taking a stunning catch on the boundary to win a match New Zealand seemed certain to lose. John Bracewell responded to the catch with a roar and a fruity fist thrust towards the loudest section of a braying Australian crowd. I remember a cameraman catching a stunned Australian in that moment - a beer in one hand, his cheeks puffed out in a drunken burp and his eyes filled with complete bewilderment.

Other memories followed. Chris Pringle bowling a maiden over to Bruce Reid in the last over of a match where Australia only needed one to draw and two to win. Shane Bond ripping out Adam Gilchrist's stumps with a 150kmph inswinging yorker. The booing of pantomime villains like Dean Jones and Greg Matthews.

All this, and we still haven't mentioned the underarm.

If you need me over the next few weeks, don't expect too much in the way of a response. I have an appointment with my couch, some cold beer and a very big television screen.

1 comment:

Suhas said...

Hi Mike,
A little late, but here's my preview of the tri-series.