December 22, 2011

India in Australia 2011-12

Memories of cricket in Australia

Sidharth Monga
Shane Warne celebrates one of his eight second-inning wickets, Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, November 29, 1994
"Waaaaarnie … Waaaaarnie."  © Getty Images
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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

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Posted by Aravind Nainakanti on (January 13, 2012, 17:38 GMT)

Nice post! This brings back memories of my child hood waking up every hour , waiting for 5 am. Bill Lawry is superb along with richie benaud and others, the coverage has changed little bit though with no woody scoreboards and no ducks walking back with the batsmen, even worse is star cricket telecasting with thier own commentary team, living in US i was very excited to watch the current series in willow tv but was very disappointed with the star tv telecast..i stopped watching in my tv and turned on some scrappy sites on the web just for bill lawry.

Posted by riaz on (December 24, 2011, 7:39 GMT)

Awesome post.. i agree with all that u have told.. eventhough 92 world cup was a tragedy for india. it was the best world cup to date.. 9 classic captains in border, desilva,gooch, richarson,keppler, crowe, azhar, houton,and imran.. all are legends in cricket.. the brilliant knock of azhar in match against aus, sachin nominated for man of the series with akram and crowe, the brilliant match against pakistan, the fate of south africa, brilliant spells of akram, superb capataincy of imran.. and almost all the players to have played that world cup are among the best.. i dont watch cricket these days.. but the article made me go back 20 odd years and got me excited.. brilliant post!!!

Posted by ishrat on (December 24, 2011, 6:46 GMT)

After reading several comments referring to Merv Hughes, my favourite memory is of Merv Hughes sledging Wasim Akram and both of them standing face to face with Imran trying to seperate the two of them (rehenay day inki ......).

Posted by GD on (December 23, 2011, 17:58 GMT)

I love watching Test cricket from Australia more than anything because Australians love Test cricket. I saw a note somewhere that said Pattinson grew up dreaming of bowling on Boxing Day Test. The way cricket is developing in India, a boy's dream would at best be about a World Cup Final and at worst an IPL match in front of cheer-girls. I hope I am wrong and rooting for India in the tests.

Posted by sachin101 on (December 23, 2011, 15:19 GMT)

What about the letter "R" blinking on the screen when the replay was shown. A brilliant piece and so envious of you that you have the best job in world. Covering cricket in Australia. I would pay to have such a job!

Posted by Bala on (December 23, 2011, 14:46 GMT)

The most interesting sight used to be Merv Hughes chasing the ball, all the way to the boundary, and losing the race almost every time. His walrus mustache looked less intimidating when he does that chase!

Posted by criclover on (December 23, 2011, 14:30 GMT)

Let's go back to the 60s radio commentary! What a wonderful experience it was to actually 'visualize' a stroke, a catch, a misfield or a wicket, with splendid bit of humor. Same is now true for TV commentary coming from Aus. or UK from their local commentators. With due respect, commentators from the subcontinent offer no such excitement! Simply describing what is happening on the field, is boring. Like Ritchie Benaud, 81 year old, master of critical analysis and live commentary said something like- If you don't have any thing to add to what is actually happening on the field, don't say it! Watching live Test matches between Aus. and NZ on TV offered a wonderful opportunity to listen to anecdotes, history, commentators own past experience, and unexpected non-cutting humor. Subcontinental commentators rarely offer these. So a humble request to Indian commentators, without naming them, meet R. Benaud and like, go the the 'commentary' school, etc. and excite our sensibilities. Thanks

Posted by innocentsandy on (December 23, 2011, 14:07 GMT)

Excellent Article as all have mentioned. Though I have been a part of most of the things mentioned above. I would still like to recall Steve Waugh catching behind the white screen. Match and day.. is there is you tube video available for this. Anyway cricket in Australia is always special, especially since we became competitive against the best in the world. Thanks Sachin/VVS/Rahul/Ganguly/Anil/Bhajji

Posted by Imtiaz on (December 23, 2011, 13:58 GMT)

Brilliant article...It was like a 3D journey into the 80's and 90's. Nobody can telecast cricket like channel 9...Indeed the 92 world cup was the most spectacular right till the climax

Posted by areen on (December 23, 2011, 13:11 GMT)

brilliant article!! the excitement of bill lawry and tony greig are the two best things to have happened to commentary! thoroughly love them!

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