Sand, surf, sixes

Lee McDonald
There are few things more Aussie than thwacking the tennis ball into the Indian Ocean

Three runs to win and I am the last man standing. This is the stuff of dreams. I survey the field to determine where the best scoring opportunities are.

Midwicket, the most productive run-scoring area during my innings, is well covered, both short and deep. The fielders in the deep stand at the ready with their feet buried in the golden white sand to avoid the tops of their feet being burnt by the sun.

The off side is less populated, but wading up to his waist in the soft rolling tide of the Indian Ocean is a fielder who is clearly a mulleted reincarnation of Jonty Rhodes. He has taken two diving one-handed "classic" catches, one to his left and one to his right, though they ended with splashes about as graceful as a cat trying to swim. His fielding exploits have swelled his confidence and he is quick to say, "Hey, did you see my catch?" to any bikini-clad woman who saunters by.

Long-on and straight back over the bowler's head are vacant. That is my spot.

I wipe the sweat from my brow with my forearm but only really succeed in wiping sand all over my face, the legacy of an eager dive to make my ground just two balls earlier. I blow the sand and flies from my face like an annoyed camel, smooth out the cool, half-wet sand in front of me with my feet and mark the crease with my bat for the umpteenth time today.

City Beach: Perth's most popular beach © UniversalImagesGroup

I take my guard and turn to face the bowler and I have to squint. Partly because of the bright Western Australian sun and sky, partly because the bowler has a run-up to rival Dennis Lillee at his peak. I am not sure what is closer, the iconic Cottesloe Indiana Tea Rooms a couple of hundred metres south or the bowler.

The bowler begins his run-up, water spraying from his body as he gains pace. Water, not sweat: he decided to take a dip in the ocean in between balls to cool off. I tap my bat lightly in the sand to settle my nerves. In an instant the bowler is at the crease, he flays his arms, and the sandy, wet tennis ball is hurtling towards me.

It is a low full toss. My eyes light up; this was exactly the ball I'd hoped for. But in my eagerness I have played too early and I get a touch too far underneath the ball, which goes soaring into the air.

I set off on my first run in a whirlwind of sand being kicked up by my feet. The ball is clearly not going to go as far as I'd hoped and will probably land around the vacant mid-on area. The bowler and midwicket look skyward, mouths open like baby birds waiting to be fed by their mother.

The ball appears to still be travelling upwards. I have turned for my second run before it begins its descent. Scampering back for the second I turn to see both midwicket and the bowler shouting "Mine, mine!" But through excitement, miscommunication, wind, and losing the ball in the sun, they have both misjudged the catch. The tennis ball thuds into the ground, bouncing up only ever so slightly.

I complete the second run just as the bowler dives towards ball in a desperate attempt to complete a "one-hand-one-bounce" catch. The attempt is in vain and he only succeeds in knocking the ball further away from the pitch. This is my chance for glory. In my excitement to take off for the third run my sandy hands lose their grip on the bat handle and I drop the bat. The midwicket fielder takes a few steps to the now stationary ball, picks it up, turns to face the solitary stump at the bowler's end and takes aim.

You haven't experienced anything till you have had sand in every crevice of your body © Getty Images

The fielder's throw is strong. It looks accurate. I throw myself in the air, my arms outstretched in order to make my ground. As I soar through the air like a movie hero diving in front of a gunshot, the ball drifts just wide of the lonely, crooked stump. My arms and face plunge into the sand and I am covered head to toe. A victory swim is a certainty. This is the stuff of dreams.

My favourite beaches
Western Australia has some beautiful beaches. If you come to Perth when the World Cup matches are being held, the weather is likely be mostly sunny and 30 degrees Celsius. It will be a great time to head to the beach for some sun, swimming and the Aussie tradition of beach cricket. So grab your bathers, bat, tennis ball and esky and head to one of these.

City Beach
About 10km out of the Perth CBD, this is a great activities beach with surfers, windsurfers and kite surfers frequenting the water. There are also beach volleyball courts available for use. For a quality meal in a relaxing atmosphere with a stunning view, visit Clancy's Fish Pub, which is all but on the beach.

The Indiana Tea Rooms on Cottesloe Beach © UniversalImagesGroup

Cottesloe Beach
Cottesloe is about 11km west-south-west of the city and is probably Perth's most popular beach. Its grassy banks are shaded by pine trees and a multitude of cafés and restaurants, the beaches are golden, and the water created for swimming. If you go to the beach you have to have ice cream, and there are few better than Red Spoon in Cottesloe.

Scarborough Beach
A favourite with young people and teens, Scarborough won an award for Western Australia's best, cleanest and friendliest beach in 2008. About 14km north-west of Perth, it has some quality surf breaks and the precinct has family-friendly grassed and barbeque areas, as well as a recently reinvigorated suite of bars and cafés such as The Sandbar.

Lee McDonald is a part-time cricket podcaster and a full-time cricket lover from Perth. @thecutshot

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