And so the days are filled...

07 January 2007

what i did on my summer hols

Tomorrow I'll be singing hi-ho, hi-ho as I'm off to work in the morning. This means it's time to document what I did with my summer holidays.

Would you be surprised to learn that my alarm went off at 6am every day last week, at which point I jumped out of bed, packed a sandwich, made a thermos of coffee, took Guinness for a quick walk, and hopped on my bicycle at 7:30 to ride into town? All this madness in the name of cricket.

View from my favourite seat

For the past couple of years, I have been formulating a goal to attend every day of a cricket test. Normally a test goes for five days (and can still, as the old joke goes, end in a draw). This particular match only lasted three and a half days, which I was somewhat thankful for, as the daily routine is actually quite exhausting. But I am proud to say I was there for every single minute of the fifth test between Australia and England to witness Australia take the Ashes back in only the second 5-0 sweep of the Ashes, as any meeting of England and Australia on the cricket pitch is known, a series which originated in 1882.

In order to get seats in the members area of the hallowed Sydney Cricket Ground (which is unreserved seating) I needed to arrive by about 8am each day, even though play did not begin until usually 10:30. Have you ever watched that part of a triathlon where the competitors switch from the bicycle section to the running section? That was me arriving at the SCG every morning at 7:55 - helmet off, bike locked up, panniers hauled off rack, and a footrace to the entry gate. (The main difference between me and the triathlete - apart from the 'athlete' part - being the clothing - I did all this in a skirt, dressy blouse, and heels. The members stand has a dress code.)

Having secured a seat at 8am (ensconced between even kookier members, some of whom have been known to queue from 4am for seats), my day at the cricket would begin with a read of the newspaper, a cup of coffee, and a muffin in the lounge area. By about 10 I would be back in my hard-won seat, walkman tuned to the local radio commentary and binoculars hanging around my neck. Thus would commence approximately 7 hours of staring at a wide green expanse peppered by 13 players in white, interruped only briefly by lunch, tea, and the occasional patter of applause.
The bar in the members pavilion

Each day of a test match has its particular thrills. The highlights for me were as follows:

Day 1: The national anthems. The Barmy Army (the crowd of English cricket fanatics who follow their team around the world) very pointedly sang 'God Save Your Queen' to the Aussies, in a not-so-subtle reminder that we share a monarch. (It was comparatively recently that Australia adopted its own national anthem, Advance Australia Fair.)

Day 2: England's valiant captaion, Andrew Flintoff, out for 89, given a standing ovation by the Australian public as he left the field, in recognition of his being a jolly good sportsman. I like that about cricket, usually the spectator expresses an appreciation for anything well done, regardless of which team does it.

Day 3: Warnie's last ever innings at the crease for Australia, out for 71 but everyone thought for sure he was gunning for a century. I cannot possibly go into the legend that is Shane Warne (this is a knitting blog after all) so you can read about him in the sports pages.

Day 4: Although a clean sweep of the series was rarely in doubt, the final moments were spelled out like the ending to a truly great novel - the retiring Aussie batsman Langer joining his mate Matthew Hayden to put together the mere 46 runs needed to win the test prior to lunch. Langer was ushered onto the field by the English side, who had formed a guard of honour for him.

Would I put myself through this again? Absolutely. Next year we're playing India. But we have the whole Cricket World Cup before then...wonder what kind of knitting I can get done during that?