August 31, 2011

Australians. They’re different

For instance, some of them are big wraps for others

Monday, 29th August When two bitter antagonists decide to climb down off their high horses, throw away those handbags and give each other a big hug, it is a beautiful thing. Two weeks ago I shed a little tear of happiness when I read that the WICB and the WIPA (or it may have been the other way round) were going to get together and sort it all out over lattes and a plate of custard creams. Mr Ramnarine said that people were fed up of the arguing, they just want West Indies cricket back on top. Well, amen to that.

So how have they been getting along? I thought I’d check in today for the latest:

“WIPA to sue WICB for $20m!”

Oh dear. The ordinary cricket fan, who just yearns for the good old days when the West Indies were awe-inspiring cricket gods dispensing nose-breaking, jaw-crushing, leather-spanking justice finds this as bewildering and depressing as the news that there might be a Pirates of the Caribbean 5. The house of West Indies cricket is crumbling and these Lilliputians are sitting in the ruins, surrounded by rubble, arguing about what shade of blue will go best in the bathroom.

I’m not really interested in why the WIPA is suing the WICB, and though I’m not trained in the clairvoyant arts, I strongly suspect that I’ll be equally uninterested next week when the WICB announces its countersuit. As a parent I’ve been through this sort of thing before. It’s not important who started it, all that matters is that you both say sorry and agree to play nicely, and above all that we don’t hear another peep out of either of you, because frankly you kids are driving us crazy.

Tuesday 30th August Having grown up watching Neighbours (which is, in my opinion, a far superior drama to the rather vulgar Home and Away) I have absorbed a lot of Australian without having to take a course. Bludgers, lamingtons, rellies, grog and stoked are all part of my vocabulary, stored in a tiny anteroom of my brain, gathering dust but ready to be used in the unlikely event that I can afford a week or two in Adelaide, or that I bump into Shane Warne at the moisturiser counter in Boots.

But ever so often I come across a phrase that reminds me that Australia is, in fact, an entirely foreign country and not just a hotter, dryer, wider version of Cornwall. Today, for example, I read this from Michael Clarke, referring to Trent Copeland:

“I’m a big wrap for him.”

I have heard it before, but if I’m honest, I have no idea what it means. An attempt to translate it logically leads to a disturbing conclusion - that Australia’s captain is so enamoured of his new seam-up, wobble-it-about guy that he wants to envelop him physically, as though he were a soft white flatbread and Trent a tasty pile of marinated chicken, onions and peppers. Is that the kind of captain-player bonding that the Argus review recommended? Or have I mistranslated?

Still, while I’ve no idea if he’s any good with a cricket ball, I do know that Australia’s new fast-bowling burrito has a great name. This is par for the course. Antipodeans* consistently outperform the British in this department. Your average Australian cricketer sounds like a tough, borderline-dangerous cove who knows how to operate a leaf blower and could arm-wrestle a dingo into submission if he had to. You’d feel safe if Trent Copeland had your back.

* New Zealanders, for example, usually have cowboy names. It is impossible not to be cool with a name like Jesse Ryder, Brendon McCullum or Dangerous Dan Vettori. Though I suspect Martin Guptil is really a quantity surveyor from Crawley.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England