January 13, 2008

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan on India in Australia 2007-08

Having a crack at the WACA

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
A match between Western Australia and Queensland was abandoned due to claims that the WACA pitch was dangerous, Perth, November 15, 2000
 © Allsport Australia
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We have an evening flight to Perth and decide to visit the Parliament house in Canberra. It's a wonderfully-designed building and our guide, Maria, makes the tour a very interesting one. I have forgotten most of what she said but two interesting things:

1. The clerk who sits in the House of Representatives is responsible for ringing the bells during a division of the house. In front of the clerk are three hour glasses. The outer glasses last for four minutes and the middle glass runs for two. Four minutes after a vote is called for, the bells will ring, the clocks will flash green, and the house's attendants will lock the doors and the votes will be counted. Now how did they settle on this time? How did they know it was enough time for someone to get from the farthest spot? They sent an old man to the terrace of the House and timed him as he walked from there into the main room. They found he managed to cover the distance within four minutes and set the time then and there.

2. The kangaroo and the emu are engraved on the Australian coat of arms. The reason? They are the only two native animals that don't take a backward step.

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Now to Perth. There are a few things young kids playing in the backyard want to see themselves as. Seamers at Headingley, spinners in Mumbai and fast bowlers in Perth. Several memories remain but the one I will never forget. It was the Ashes Test of 1991. Craig McDermott had bounced out eight English wickets on the first day and set it all up for an Australian win. Geoff Marsh walked in to bat with Australia chasing 120 to win and remained unbeaten on 63 when the victory came. But during a drinks break in that innings, he calmly took his bat and placed it inside one of the cracks in the WACA pitch, had a drink or two and came back. The sight of that bat, keeping its upright position without any support, was one of the moments to savour.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo

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