Nuriootpa High School 1981- Jock McGregor
Saturday morning, underage cricket. Barossa Valley. Fruit-heavy vines enclose the ground, vintage approaches. Teenage conversations.
“Do you think REO Speedwagon are better than Adam and the Ants?”
“Pass me that Blankety Blanks lemonade.”
“EH Holdens beat XP Fords? Get real!”
Most of us were boys. But Jock was a fully formed man. His batting power was laughably brutal, and as a mate’s dad used to say, “He had an eye like a stinkin’ fish.”
Back then, footy goal posts were permanent fixtures. We watched as Jock punished the looping ball. We watched, slack-jawed. It sped straight through the goals at three-quarter-post height. Six runs and six points! We kept watching. Zooming above the gnarled rows of Shiraz vines, the ball was still climbing.
Gabba 2005- Brett Lee
Weet-bix devourer, and Australia’s Funniest Home Videos devotee, Brett Lee was a better batsman than guitarist. He belted West Indian Daren Powell’s delivery above and beyond the Northern Stand, and with near tragicomedy. It exploded on impact close to another blonde Australian paceman. And his wife and young daughter.
“I felt like the mayor of Hiroshima. Six inches either way and the ball would have caused some real damage,” a relieved Carl Rackemann said of the bombardment.
Kapunda High School 1979 until 1983- Paul McCarthy
In my youth of Skyhooks and sausage rolls, there were teachers versus students matches. We loved them. These were played in wholesome spirit, although, as ridiculous, rash lads, some competed like fuming dogs.
Once in the footy my friend Crackshot perfectly tackled a staff member, trapping the Lyrebird to him. The teacher finally loosened an arm, and to his eternal shuddering horror, and our eternal amusement, promptly jabbed Crackshot on the chin. Did we just see that? I don’t think he bit off part of his ear though.
In every cricket match history teacher, and champion golfer, Paul McCarthy provided the highpoint. Batting at the Gundry’s Hill end, the occasion would arrive, and he’d flick it off middle stump, over the spotty fielders, over the boundary, over the school fence, over West Terrace, over the dusty footpath, over a neighbour’s front yard, and onto the roof of her white-washed cottage. Thud. A depth charge in a submarine movie. Everyone waited for it. Macca always delivered.
WACA 2006- Adam Gilchrist
We were at Adelaide’s Highway Inn for Gilly’s pyrotechnics.
It had been among the last workingman’s pubs. On Fridays a misshapen gent haunted the front bar, peddling greasy handfuls of cubed cheese and sliced mettwurst. As such I suspect it was often a real gastro pub. It sold butcher glasses (200ml) of port, but no craft ales. Around six they’d pay a woman to dance through the smoky fug, to wrong music. She would forget to wear her shirt.
Then the Highway was gentrified. The cheese and metty man was gone. Now you could buy
Spring garden riccioli (v) $22 w Brussels sprouts, radicchio, peas and rye crumbs.
Gilchrist launched four sixes in that Ashes knock. Was it so few? Bludgeoning 24 off a Monty over, each shot crackled with sharp raucousness. Aural affects often characterise sport. Gilly sounded like he was right in your lounge room, cracking a whip.
During that beer garden afternoon, I’m sure there was a distant whiff of crumbly cheddar and Linke’s mettwurst
Wudinna 1990- Gary Fitzgerald
When bowling, my approach to the wicket was utterly unlike Michael Holding. Less whispering death, more three-legged race. Kyancutta’s batsmen could hit it hard, but Fitzy could hit it hardest. He went after me one February afternoon.
Instantly, the ball was one hundred feet high. With the perpetual hopefulness of all bowlers, I thought he’d skied it. Catch, I thought. In a split second I knew. I was wrong.
Fitzy clubbed it like an Adam Scott 9 iron, but unbearably long. It somehow evaded the Commodores cowering in the shade of the distant gym. That Kookaburra travelled further than Yorkshire men go on holiday.
After bouncing ferociously on the rubble the ball returned, but needing cranio-facial surgery. Every batsman tries to smack me. With the last delivery of the innings, I take my seventh wicket. For 74! And win a slab of Southwark! We lose.
WACA 1997- Mark Waugh
“Along with golf, it’s probably my favourite pastime and cricket gets in the way a bit,” Mark Waugh once said. Our most elegant punter is not Punter, but Junior.
His celebrated strike, off Daniel Vittori, is uncomplicated grace. There is no hyperbole: no running, no leaping, and no punching the air (or Joe Root’s chin). Plainly, the younger Waugh found more delight in Super Impose winning the 1992 Cox Plate at 25/1.
Of course he was batting with older brother and captain Stephen. After Mark’s soaring stroke their demeanour remains uninterested. It suggests an unhurried single to extra cover.
Four stories up on the Lillee-Marsh grandstand roof, the ball clatters like hail on a shed, and, without a yak, is irretrievable. Our coda to that shot is the mid-pitch exchange
Stephen: Fair swipe.
Stephen: Now pull your head in.
Mark: Are you kidding? You jealous?
Stephen: Nup. Who held the Bankstown Pizzeria Space Invaders record?
Mark: Yeah, yeah.
Stephen: Randwick quaddie?
Stephen: Salad or veg with tonight’s steak?