Memories of cricket in Australia
Long flights can sometimes be good, especially when you have spent the last couple of days thinking of foreign exchange, malfunctioning credit cards, lost keys, and generally lived through Murphy's Law. Once on the flight, though, for 15 hours without communication devices and with no way back, all you think of is forward. On my flight to Australia, all I thought of was Australia, a place every cricket lover who grew up in the nineties in India has a special bond with. Back then you watched cricket from Australia more than you did from India, mostly because you could catch it before going to school. In no particular order I thought of:
It's the post-tea session at the MCG, the sun is out, and Australia haven't taken a wicket for some time. The 85,000 voices then go, "Waaaaarnie … Waaaaarnie," until Shane Warne is brought on.
The Channel Nine coverage, which would begin at 5.30 am in Indian winters. Made you want to be there, in the sun, even as you had breakfast.
Those stumps mics on crack. Every time the ball would hit the stumps, they would go "khrrrrrash". Gutturally, exaggeratedly, almost like they were special effects. Not the kind deceptively added to cricket documentaries nowadays to blow up the sound of bat hitting the ball.
The seagulls. And the Pigeon.
"It's all happening." Screaming on air should be left to one man alone. Nobody else can do it like Bill Lawry.
David Boon's catches. The flick-pull from Brian Lara held at short square leg. The flick from Mohammad Azharuddin caught at forward short leg, after a juggling act.
The duck accompanying batsmen walking back for a nought. After a while, in India, they began editing out the duck. Live time. Whoever could have a problem with that?
The inverted scores. If it's 2-0 after two balls, the bowler is on a hat-trick unless there has been a run-out.
Forget Sundries, think a player called X Tras.
What Fanie de Villiers had to say about the crowds: "The Aussie crowds hate you when you get there. But the moment you start playing well, they come and support you, which I have never seen anywhere else in the world. The moment I won that Sydney game, I was the best thing since sliced white bread in that country."
Joel Garner in pink.
The best World Cup of all, 1992.
Bush Great Catches. "Final Countdown" was the background music.
Four'N Twenty. Saw those boundary boards often, but realised it is the famous Melbourne pie only while reading Jarrod Kimber's Australian Autopsy. Apparently it is difficult to find at the MCG these days because it has been replaced by food that is more posh.
The fence. Hrishikesh Kanitkar once leaned on the fence, and pulled a catch out of the crowd, dismissing Inzamam-ul-Haq.
The sight screen inside the playing area. Steve Waugh once ran behind it to successfully take a catch.
"Marvelloush piece of memorabilia. It'sh a limited edition…" I swear if I had the money then, Richie Benaud would have made my buy a whole lot of it. Nowadays I hear Mark Nicholas has taken up the job. My money stays with me.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo