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The Kapunda Cricket Club: Long Necks in Brown Paper Bags and the Patron Saint of Spoofy

kcc-derro-and-spoofy

In 1880 the Australian Test side played a match in Kapunda against a local team. The shops shut at noon and thousands gathered. The national captain, Billy Murdoch, congratulated the club on the Dutton Park pitch. It was coconut matting.

The national side made 401 with opening bat AC Bannerman registering a century. The local side accumulated eighty, despite there being a batting line-up of twenty-two chaps. Only one fellow, TR Bright, got to double-figures with twenty-seven. Ten made ducks. Can you imagine a Wade/ Maxwell conversation happening back then?

“Hey Skip, got a minute?”

“Sure. What’s the problem?”

“I see you’ve got Bennett coming in at eighteen. And I’m batting at nineteen.”

“That’s right. He’s actually made a run this year.”

*

Saturday night saw the celebration of Kapunda Cricket Club’s sesquicentenary, and it was held at Dutton Park. Arriving late afternoon Woodsy, Bobby Bowden and I wandered down to catch the closing stages of the A grade fixture against Freeling. On the grass and under the shade we had a yarn with Tolly, Bart, Whitey, Goose and Rexy who were taking refreshment as preparation for the evening. Kapunda took four wickets to secure second place.

*

Away games still mean meeting at Rawady’s deli in the Main Street, just next door to the Sir John Franklin hotel. Thirty years ago, we’d head off to Eudunda or Angaston or Truro in a car with no air-conditioning. FM radio barely existed. Bench seats like those in HQ Holdens allowed six so only two cars might be needed. Toranas and 180Bs were rightly seen as selfish.

You’d be squeezed in and somewhere like Riverton was only about twenty minutes away, but with cramping calves and eyes stinging with the smoke of a dozen Winny Reds you’d slide from the seat with a soaking back like you were being born.

This is the Kapunda Cricket Club.

*

In a change room at Dutton Park some memorabilia is on display. I wander through. Old bats- GN Scoops and Fielkes, and boxes- such as the one made famous by Froggy are there, as are old score books. One from 1987 is on a bench and Bobby Bowden finds the match against Greenock, the one cruelly documenting his eighteen ball over. I’d forgotten that he and I opened the batting, but then when this happened, why would we?

Sudden by international standards, the demise of England’s G Swann was glacial compared to Bobby’s. At the start of his final ever over for the Kapunda Cricket Club he was a reliable medium pacer. Eleven agonising minutes later his bowling career was dead.

It began with a couple of wides, progressed to a malignant lack of confidence and culminated with Bob, broken, walking to the wicket like it was the gallows, and trying to complete a legitimate delivery. It often ended up at slip, or skidding forlornly, ashamedly, down to fine leg. His mental self-disintegration was total.

Subsequent pub analysis confirms that Bob’s eighteen-ball over only contained seven legal deliveries, and therefore nearly thirty years on, remains incomplete. I was at mid-off, and lobbed the ball to him, fifteen times. I felt increasingly like I was throwing him a box jellyfish. Or a can of XXXX.

This is the Kapunda Cricket Club.

*

Cricket clubs provide much. Social instruction. Gentle exercise. Weekend structure. But mostly they generate memories. Eagle Rock with whites around ankles, slopping up beer and Bundy in a Tarlee disco. Tony Clarke spinning the black vinyl of “Walk Like An Egyptian.” A fella like Flab who, in astonishing dedication, wore his cricket whites until Tuesday. Yeah, Tuesday. Twice. Did these have to be burnt? If we had a nuclear waste storage facility (no doubt on the site of the former Railway Hotel) they probably should have gone in there.

I think of Spoofy. I think of the front bar in Puffa’s late on summer afternoons. Boys drinking West End from handles. No TAB or big screens. No pumping music. Just three coins, clasped behind the back. Not trying to win, but trying not to lose. Goose Mickan. Someone chirping, “Good call.”

The final moment and someone- hopefully not yourself, trudging off to buy for everyone like GS Chappell after his fifth consecutive duck. This, of course, all belongs spiritually to Whitey, the patron saint of Spoofy, or as he now calls it, “The Free Beer Game.”

This is the Kapunda Cricket Club.

*

And then, late afternoon somehow squeezing back into the HQ Holden as Chris Hayward once said, “Like ten pounds of spuds in a five-pound bag” we’d drive through the dusty warmth back home. This often included calling through a pub like the Greenock Tavern to get a long neck in a brown paper bag. One each for the journey.

Just as the drive to cricket could seem eternally long, as a seventeen-year-old the trip back home with a derro could be horribly brief as now within Kapunda’s town-limits you tried to gulp down the last of the beer. The HQ would swing into a park outside the Clare Castle Hotel, and you’d stare down the neck of the bottle, looking for the fish bones you’re sure are swimming about in there, wondering how the older blokes actually drank the stuff. Safely inside, after three schooners of Nugget’s finest, you’d recovered and all was fine. You were set.

This is the Kapunda Cricket Club.

*

It was a great night. There were stories from JL Mosey and Sarge Johnston and laughs and life memberships. Wayne Phillips made a funny speech in which he referenced Fatcat and IVA Richards and the beginning of his relationship with his wife which, in part, began atop Gundry’s Hill overlooking Kapunda.

After midnight, everyone drifts outside to the veranda. It seems like it’s only nine o’clock. There’s a looming full moon and the skittish clouds race across the velvet. After a blistering week, the cool change is arriving.

I call back into the club next morning on my way home and ask what time the celebration wound up. Matt says, “I left at ten to four and there were still about sixty here.” Impressive.

Some nights the stories just won’t let you go to bed. There’s too much to say, too many hands to shake.

And, this is the Kapunda Cricket Club.

dp

 

 

KCC Rawadys Deli squashed into Holdens Jock McGregor six Craig Hutton hat trick Rocket Tanunda Light Pass tie Leo Carter trained at KHS Fergie and Phil Bob and Christmas Greg Chappell hat Greenock dozen runs Interest in Caulfield Cup Spoofy Long neck Old score books Flab in whites until Tuesday 298 Dean Waugh Flipper coach ASADA 29 NSW Fatcat can’t guarantee that After midnight migrate outside, looming moon and skittish clouds 4am sixty folk, stories stretch onKCC Rawadys Deli squashed into Holdens Jock McGregor six Craig Hutton hat trick Rocket Tanunda Light Pass tie Leo Carter trained at KHS Fergie and Phil Bob and Christmas Greg Chappell hat Greenock dozen runs Interest in Caulfield Cup Spoofy Long neck Old score books Flab in whites until Tuesday 298 Dean Waugh Flipper coach ASADA 29 NSW Fatcat can’t guarantee that After midnight migrate outside, looming moon and skittish clouds 4am sixty folk, stories stretch onKCC Rawadys Deli squashed into Holdens Jock McGregor six Craig Hutton hat trick Rocket Tanunda Light Pass tie Leo Carter trained at KHS Fergie and Phil Bob and Christmas Greg Chappell hat Greenock dozen runs Interest in Caulfield Cup Spoofy Long neck Old score books Flab in whites until Tuesday 298 Dean Waugh Flipper coach ASADA 29 NSW Fatcat can’t guarantee that After midnight migrate outside, looming moon and skittish clouds 4am sixty folk, stories stretch on

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Ten Years is a Long Time

ute

It’s a scene to make you smile. Two girls and a brown kelpie pup jumping and running, laughing and barking as the late afternoon sun bends through the eucalyptus trees. Their hot perfume hangs in the blue air. All across Australia families like this one are enjoying their Sunday afternoons, as this exceedingly hot summer stretches out.

While these children appear happy in the golden light, the shadows are lengthening, for they and their mother live in a state of apprehension. At the insistence of their father, they are drifters.

Tom Smith meets me in the front bar of Cobar’s Railway Hotel. I offer to buy him a beer, and he says, “Fair enough too. With your fancy city job, you can afford it.” I decline to explain that as a cadet journalist I’m probably earning less than he is, and ask, “How long have you been in Cobar?”

He looks me in the eye, takes a long draught from his beer, and wipes the foam from his lip. “Let’s see. I reckon it’ll be four weeks next Tuesday. Time to go,” he clips. There’s defensiveness in his voice, a challenge, as if he’s daring me to argue. I imagine he’s exchanged fisticuffs in a Friday front bar before. “Why are you leaving?”

As the clock ticks towards six, the pace of drinking accelerates. It’s hot, smoky and the men yelling at each other is a slow-motion explosion of noise. I lean in towards Tom to better hear him. “Shearing’s nearly finished. Job’s done. We’ll head south towards the Murray. Grapes’ll soon be ripe. Plenty of work pickin’ ‘em. I know a bloke in Mildura. We were there four or five years ago. Not long after Susie had her accident.” Tom glances up at the clock. Quarter to six. Impossibly, it becomes louder in Cobar’s biggest hotel.

“Can I ask what happened?” Susie’s the youngest daughter of Tom and his wife Mary. To make ends meet, Mary gets what work she can too. Cooking for the shearers, helping out in the homestead. Both work long hours. Hard, physical labour. “Fell off a fence. Cut her leg badly on a rock, and ripped her calf muscle. Still walks with a bit of a limp. I’d told them girls to stay away from the fence- some of the timbers were loose.”

I study Tom again. His face is weathered brown from years of vicious outback sun, and his eyes are set in an endless squint- even here in the pub. There’s honesty in our conversation, but also a reticence to tell a city stranger too much.

Later as she cooks dinner for her family I talk to Mary, while Tom sits outside. Susie and her sister Jane are throwing a ball to the dog. Dusk descends from the sky. The meal is mutton chops, carrots, peas and mashed potatoes. Resting my elbows upon its laminated top, I sit at the table. “Are you looking forward to Mildura?” I ask. The chops sizzle and spit in the pan. Mary’s eyes scurry across to me. “Is that where we’re headed?’ Her question doesn’t surprise me. Outside in the dusty heat, I hear Tom cough.

“Yes, Tom told me at the pub. Does he…” I pause, worried about marching into their marriage. I’m not sure I’d like what I might hear. “…you know, does he usually ask you about where you’d like to go?” Mary wipes her hands on her apron, and turns to me. “Can I tell you something?” I lean forward. “Please.”

I see tears at the corners of her eyes. “I’m tired. We’ve been drifting for over ten years. Never been anywhere longer than a couple months. We met in Kingaroy. Queensland. Got married. Back then, Tom had plans. Wanted to be a fisherman, you know, get his own boat.” I take a sip from my cup of tea. “What happened?”

Mary pours milk in with the potatoes and starts rhythmically, but cheerlessly working her fork into the boiled vegetable. “A few months after we we’re married Tom’s best man Jim drowned. He was on a prawn boat off of Cairns. Huge storm swept in. They got caught in it. That was the storm of ‘53. Six boats went down. Twenty-three men lost. Tom vowed he’d never set foot on a trawler. We decided to head south and follow the work.”

I offer, “Ten years is a long time.” Mary wipes her eyes with the apron, and whispers, “The girls need friends. School. They could play tennis….” She stops, as if her words are forbidden, an unutterable prayer. Tom’s boots blunder up the corridor. He kisses Mary on the head. “What’s for dinner, love?”

On the following Friday Tom and Mary, their daughters and the dog leave Cobar, the ute’s exhaust coughing out bluish smoke as it bumps down the driveway. Tom flicks the turning indicator and steers south.

In Mildura, seven hours away, there are red and white grapes, ready for picking.

vineyard

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Jeans On- Not on Triple J’s Hottest 100 but Massively Cool

dd

Born in Oxford to the 3rd Marquess of Zetland and his wife Penelope Pike, and schooled at Harrow. Not what you’d necessarily expect of the man singing the world’s catchiest tune. Ladies and gentlemen, Lord David Dundas!

At least it was in 1977 when I first heard it on Countdown on a Sunday night. I recall my cousin Boogly was a fan of the song too. We first heard it one wintry evening after a Kapunda Footy Club function (piss up) when we repaired to his house. No doubt having toasted ham and cheese sandwiches. We ate these often. His mum, my Aunty Claire, makes a wicked toasted sandwich.

ts

If the song sounds like a jingle that’s because it originally was, having come to life to promote Brutus jeans, a company started by two London brothers in their teens. The jeans were popular among mods, sharpies and scooter boys.

With a laid-back melody underpinned by a memorable keyboard the lyrics commence

When I wake up in the morning light
I pull on my jeans and I feel all right
I pull my blue jeans on, I pull my old blue jeans on (ch-ch)
I pull my blue jeans on, I pull my old blue jeans on (ch-ch)

Back about a year we entertained friends from Kimba and Kentucky- as you do; these should be twinned communities- and this song came up. With sufficient sparkling beverages onboard (Ale and Shiraz) we located the song on YouTube and played it on repeat, sitting on our patio as we (Bazz and I) yodelled out into the undeserving night sky with the “ch-ch” bits being an aural highlight. Neighbourhood dogs still growl when I pass.

sa

Happily, the song is now also on Spotify with nearly three-hundred thousand plays while other songs by David Dundas have only attracted meagre listens making him, I think, a one-hit wonder. But, Fatboy Slim liked it so much he sampled it on his song “Sho Nuff.”

It will be another vital plank in the musical education of Alex and Max and I’ll play it for (at) them when an opportunity arises (imprisoned in my car). You should listen to it too.

On Australia Day, what could be more appropriate?

 

 

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The Dude and Dinosaur Jr.

 

been

In my pocket my phone buzzed. A message. Trev.

I’m up front watching J. Mascis…His left hand up the neck of his telecaster is like a bionic crab!

On a stormy Thursday evening the weather is Singaporean heavy and portentous. Trev, Matty and I are at The Gov, Adelaide’s best live music pub. American indie band Dinosaur Jr. is playing. We’re at the back of the room and we’re feeling the fuzzy guitar.

Like a 1990’s disaster film- doubtless featuring a frowning Tommy Lee Jones- we’re pummelled by cataclysmic forces. However, it’s not an indiscriminate assassin, it’s a benevolent god: a ’63 Fender Jazzmaster. It’s the star of the show.

Later, I squeeze my way up the front too. I’m only a few feet from the stage. With his long hair- Trev calls him the “Grey Ghost”- eyes closed and expressionless dial, he reminds me of the Dude from The Big Lebowski.

dude

And here’s a key. He appears utterly uninterested; he’s not even in the room with us. He’s home in Massachusetts thinking of making a cuppa tea, yet he’s generating that unique sound- soaring yet distorted, joyfully immaculate and also hovering just above swirling noise. It’s a magic carpet. It’s why we’re here.

A highlight is “Start Choppin’” from their breakthrough set Where You Been. It remains among my favourite album art. I didn’t know the band when in 1993 I first saw the CD in Big Star Records on Rundle Street, but it spoke of a weird world: all misshapen darkness and bizarre humour. It looked fun.

And here’s another key to their appeal. Mascis sings with a whining, drawling, nasal voice. A bit Neil Young, but without any commitment. He’s telling you a story, but doesn’t think you can be bothered to listen. He expects you to walk off as he’s mid-story. Maybe to make a cuppa tea. Again he reminds me of The Dude.

The Dude: Mr. Treehorn treats objects like women, man.

Malibu Police Chief: Mr. Treehorn draws a lot of water in this town. You don’t draw shit, Lebowski. Now we got a nice, quiet little beach community here, and I aim to keep it nice and quiet. So let me make something plain. I don’t like you sucking around, bothering our citizens, Lebowski. I don’t like your jerk-off name. I don’t like your jerk-off face. I don’t like your jerk-off behaviour, and I don’t like you, jerk-off. Do I make myself clear?

The Dude: [after a pause] I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening.

Dinosaur Jr. perform melodic, simple songs that pioneered the loud/quiet dynamic that’d become the sonic signature of grunge. “Feel The Pain” and “Out There” elevate the crowd too, and the last song of the encore “Gargoyle” closes with a meandering, enthralling guitar solo that’s at once cosmic, searing and euphoric.

And there’s J. Mascis, barely aware of his battered axe, more relaxed than the Dude. He saunters off-stage. He’s mumbled about five words all night.

Walking to my car a fellow Dinosaur Jr. fan passes me. He’s in the middle of the road. He’s riding a Malvern Star bike. It’s a tick after midnight. No helmet, no lights, no hands.

Superb.

j

 

 

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A birthday in Budapest

stein

Friday 15 June 2001- Michael

Early start to go to the Hungarian Embassy. Twenty people also waiting to use their services. $350 later we had our visas.

Those present had a loose grasp of queueing. Stand roughly in line, but sneak up and let your friends in when possible.

Then wandered through the city centre. Bought a new Minolta camera- very snazzy and easy to use (pre-digital too- Editor). The museums, galleries, churches are all grand and attractive. We took lots of photos.

Now Kerry-

Got lost for the first time when meeting our group after lunch. Got there just in the nick of time.

Went for a tour of Schönbrunn (beautiful spring) the summer palace of the Hapsburgs. Very grand, very beautiful, very big: in total over 1,400 rooms. We saw just a few. The ball rooms and the room of mirrors were the best (as attested by Roy Slaven- Editor).

After we stopped at the Prater for a while. This big amusement park had lots of attractions, the main one being the wheel, an older version of the London Eye.

Time for some domestic chores upon our return to the motel- washing. Found a laundromat after asking reception then at the police station (Detergent Detectives- Editor) on the way. Figuring out how to use it was interesting but we got there in the end. We wasted 30 schillings on the way- the total cost was 160 schillings or $23.

By this time we were fairly hungry having missed breakfast and lunching at 11 so we decided to stop for some traditional fare on the way back to the motel. Schnitzel and Cordon Bleu and Salat. All of them were lovely but of course they were pork (the wife has since converted to all forms of pig- Editor) and washed down with a few beers and a red. YUM.

Saturday 16/6 Michael’s Birthday

Up early on our way to Budapest. Got a couple apricot-filled buns as Michael’s cake. Our first border crossing- thank god for those visas. There were ten other buses lined up but we got through in about an hour. We also had to get our receipt for our new camera stamped at customs so we can claim our tax back.

Drove through the country to the hills on the way to Lake Balaton. Was interested to hear that they intend to start an archaeological dig on the high plateau soon as they expect to find old Roman remains.

Lake Balaton is beautiful. We had to wait twice for a big procession of motorbikes to pass- some big international meet.

We stopped for lunch in a little town called Tihany on a small peninsula in the lake- itself featuring two volcanic lakes. Our meal at a hotel in the main street was superb! Michael had paprika chicken and potato coquettes and we shared a salad. Michael also had a big birthday beer- locally brewed and served in a big stein. He wanted another- several in fact but decided to have just a small one (my famous restraint- Editor).

Another interesting restaurant just up the road- Paprikahaus had zillions of dried chillies hanging from it. The lake area is a popular holiday spot and there were lots of people sailing, swimming and fishing. Curious tit bits- the water looks milky green and it is about three miles down in the deepest part. Next stop Budapest- with our regular afternoon bus snooze.

We were excited when we saw our motel and room- very nice compared to the one in Vienna! Dinner was included- another real treat- pork, mushrooms, peas, capsicum and to top it all off- LIVER! Apart from this I think Michael had an enjoyable 35th birthday.

Back to Michael-

Yes, he did. The Danube boat cruise was good although we couldn’t hear our tour guide: no microphone. The Danube is about as wide as the Murray but flows quickly. We saw some impressive historical and public buildings like castles, statues, parliament houses that I’m sure will be on tomorrow’s itinerary.

Finished off the day in fine style. It was a day when I was spoilt, ate great food, split the time between two countries, had some tender moments with the girl and gained some precious memories.

ph

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Austria and the Rhine- seven very scared croutons

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Tuesday June 12- Pork Day (Michael)

Early start. Lunch at Trier which has the oldest Roman gate in the world. Lots of wurst stands, and we bought some nice strawberries. Saw a few good dogs.

The local cathedral is huge, beautiful and sombre. Ate a couple pork rolls for lunch and were reminded of this frequently during the afternoon.

Made our pay toilet debut. Travelled through Luxemburg- a generous community with zero net migrant intake every year.

Sleepy afternoon on the coach then a Rhine river cruise which was fun. This large boat had an open back deck with striking views of the narrow valley, castle and vineyards. Had a Riesling and a dark beer in a large vase-like glass. Saw the much-feared Lorelei Rock.

Bussed past Frankfurt and had dinner at the motel. Most of the despised food groups were lurking together- peas, pork and capsicum. Starters was a curious local fare we called Salt Soup which is made of ten tablespoons of salt, half a litre of water and seven very scared croutons.

Met and chatted with a Melbourne couple – Clive and Connie who are also teachers. Walked around the block and retired.

Wednesday 13/6- Kerry

Up at 6.30 again- this is definitely not a holiday, it’s a tour. This is the saying anyway and I agree.

Napped our way through the countryside to Nuremburg for lunch. A very interesting city- we visited the old part; some of which was bombed during the war.

Saw a beautiful fountain in the square and made a special wish with the gold ring- for a Hungarian visa! The story of the visa- or lack of: our travel agent did not inform us despite asking numerous times if we needed one. We’re pretty angry, but we’ll worry about it when we get back. Our challenge will be to get one when we arrive in Vienna where it will cost about 500 shillings each.

Back to Nuremburg. We walked up the hill to the old palace and there were good views over the city. Back in the square we bought some lovely dip and bread and artichokes (choke is the word- Editor) from a Turkish stall and walked down to a park on the river to eat it. Cool!

Back on the bus- another nap- we headed towards Munich, but didn’t pass through it. On the way, we saw a lovely big lake (Khem-see) with islands and all in it. All of this at the base of the German Alps.

Soon we’re over the border into Austria where our overnight stop was just outside Salzburg. The pension was lovely- small, family-owned with spacious rooms and a real double bed, finally! Our meal was good and we walked down the road afterwards which was very nice, except for the big, black slugs. Wrote a few postcards (google ‘em kids- Editor) before bed.

Thursday June 14- Michael

Typically early start. Into Salzburg for city tour. Was quite rainy. Our guide looked like Cosmo Kramer, and behaved like him too. And Kerry’s grandpop, Griffy Grace.

Saw lots of Sound of Music sites and places relevant to Mozart. Cobblestoned squares, monastery, nunnery, castle and funicular. The monks’ cemetery was impressive. Ate a couple pretzels. Got passport photos taken for $40! And then the camera broke. Went to internet café, spent a fortune, lost half an hour of trip text. Whilst the city was beautiful, we weren’t displeased about getting the fuck out of there.

Both napped on the bus to Vienna. Arrived at 6pm to discover that the pocket knife was missing (fuck-up number 76). All our clothes and belongings thrown about the large room, we headed off for an Austrian feast and entertainment.

Sat with Morrie and Glenda and Italian/Americans from Virginia (US state, not market garden town north of Adelaide- Editor). Big wooden tables and stools, piano accordion music and generous glasses of wine contributed to the bonhomie. Salads, chicken, sausage, sauerkraut and stinking pork to eat.

Our rotund musician played traditional tunes and Also Waltzing Matilda and Tie Me Kangaroo Down (Sadly, no Shaddup Your Face-Editor).  Quiet trip back to the motel to the strains of Dean Martin.

Our day finished happily.

toilet

 

 

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NYE in Adelaide Oval’s Bay 134

zooper.png

Is there anything more disappointing than a soggy pie?

No, there’s not. The expectation of firm pastry and the meaty joy within was instantly ruined. No sooner in his seat and having slid his pie from its bag, it collapsed in our eldest’s lap like a Home and Away extra during a Summer Bay disaster.

Our members’ tickets are in Bay 134, at the bottom of the Fos Williams Stand, and about six rows from the fence. At about backward point it’s a top spot.

With noise and music and fireworks and the ceaselessly moronic countdown our innings begins courtesy of the hoopla-free off-spin of Johan Botha. He played for the Strikers and the Redbacks but is now with the Sixers. Every confected cricket event needs a villain, and Botha swishes his black cape for the crowd.

The civilised world’s favourite sporting Hodge opens briskly, as does his partner Jake Weatherald. We progress at a goodly clip, and when Dunk comes in he takes seventeen from one over of former wig salesman and current outlaw-bikie impersonator, Doug Bollinger.

*

Is it possible to drown the week between Christmas and New Year’s with too much cricket, both televisual and backyard? With Alex and Max receiving a cricket set and some Zing bails, we’ve gone close.

Balls have lobbed over the northern, eastern and southern fences and into the neighbours’ like F- bombs in a Tarantino flick. Our house is on the western side of the modest backyard and balls: tennis, rubber and various assorted have cascaded down into the gutter like stones across a holiday-camp lake.

*

Brad Hodge (at 42, the competition’s second oldest Brad) holes out, and to the wicket sprints Travis Head, hero of last year’s corresponding fixture. But his lean tournament continues and he’s rapidly back in the sheds.

Looking like a participant in a slo-mo beer advertisement is Jake Lehmann and he then takes careful block and three balls later is bowled for zero. Perhaps next time they should strap a set of pads to his moustache and just send it out for a slog.

When his stumps are disturbed and the bails flash and dance, the hoardings and screens light up with animated Zooper Doopers and I’m suddenly aggrieved for the great loss of 2016. Bowie? Cohen? Prince? Bah. Hang your head for the demise of the great summery ice-treat, the Sunnyboy.

I know the between-balls musical stabs are highly orchestrated, like elevator muzak and shopping centre soundtracks, but tonight’s seems improved with Wilson Pickett’s “Land of a Thousand Dances,” and The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy.” A highlight is “Shout” by the Isley Brothers, although for me and many of my generation the iconic version of this 1959 classic is by Otis Day and the Knights, as performed during the toga party scene in Animal House.

The sun sets beyond the Chappell Stand and the Strikers go to sleep before Pollard and Jordan rescue the situation with some controlled bludgeoning. It’s a beautiful batting deck and I reckon we’re about twenty runs short. For the Sixers Sean Abbott is impressive taking a Michelle.

*

Human creativity is eternally astonishing, and our boys find limitless ways to argue on the backyard pitch. A couple times this last week some cricket has even broken out between them. Mates who’ve brothers tell me it’s common.

Over Christmas lunch I ask Mum about my childhood cricket. “You’d come home from primary school and play every afternoon with Brett.” Brett was two years older and lived down the road. “Did we argue?” I ventured. “Like cats and dogs,” Mum replied, “You never stopped.” I was instantly reassured. I was normal.

During the break, there’s a win $500 if you take a catch competition for those caught on camera with a KFC bucket on their bonce. It’s criminally inadequate compensation. However, the security guard/ cult hero from the Strikers’ first home game joins in, and with his final attempt completes a nice overhead grab. It’s no John Dyson on the SCG fence in 1982, but still, it’s tidily done. We loves it. If KFC was available at Adelaide Oval I’d buy thirty-eight pieces, inhale them and wipe the grease through the hair of my loved ones.

*

Hughes and Roy (Surrey import, not Slaven) get the visitors away brightly, but then the wickets fall regularly. Lanky Queenslander Billy Stanlake bowls with pace and penetration taking three, including that of Brad Haddin, who in stomping on his stumps, appears to have taken his midnight cups prematurely.

Test discard Maddinson arrives and departs limply. His year concludes bleakly, but with national selection logic proving impenetrable his two from eight deliveries may be sufficient to earn him a recall or a position on Turnbull’s front bench.

With O’Connor and Laughlin operating in tandem the Strikers are attacking with Anglicized forms of Gaelic, and this is effective as they snare four collectively. “Jump Around” by House of Pain, everyone’s beloved Irish hip hop collective (if LA’s a Belfast suburb) blasts out and O’Connor takes a sharp return catch from Abbott to make it seven for not-nearly-enough.

When the wickets aren’t tumbling, the bowling is so economical there’s more dots than a Morse Code Festival (email me for details). Like octogenarian Port Power fans clapping every single fecking disposal the crowd now applauds each maiden delivery. Our boys are really excited.

Sixer Sam Billings swots a couple into the western stand named for benefactor and KFC-devotee, Sir Edwin Thomas Smith, but with his departure the required run-rate accelerates like Zimbabwean inflation and the game is over.

Doug doesn’t even get to face.

*

A few years’ ago, during the Boxing Day Test our eldest began shrieking from the lounge. “Dad. Dad! Come quick!” I burst in. What was happening? What had I missed? “What is it?” Alex looked up at me, his toddler’s eyes wide. “Dad, Peter Siddle’s about to bowl!” Ah, the enthusiasms of the child. Not many could get excited by that.

Not even Mrs. Siddle.

*

In our car, we venture home and into the new year.

*

The following is fantastic. Voiced by Richie Benaud it captures what we love about cricket and summer.