I took the boys to the one-day cricket at Bellerive this afternoon. I have never been vaguely tempted to do this before, but I heard on the radio yesterday that it was a fund raising game for drought-affected farmers. There would be a baby animal petting area, bouncy castle, and various other exciting kid-baits. I thought I could probably keep the boys interested long enough for it to be worth the price of admission. As it turned out we were waved in for free.
We arrived about ten minutes before the end of the first innings, Queensland batting. We saw a six hit almost straight away, that just eluded a magnificent diving attempt to catch it - think John Dyson SCG 1982. (Sorry Belgium, you just had to be there). An identical shot off the next ball was miscued and caught by the same fellow.
During the break we wandered off around the concourse in search of rural fun. Four unattended sheep were penned in a tight triangle, on the old practice wicket. No one was around (I should mention the crowd was tiny). We approached. The sheep all tried to climb up each others bottoms. They were not happy to be there.
The bouncy castle man said "I know how they feel". He is actually there every week, not just for the fundraiser, but normally he is inside the ground where he can watch the cricket. He has a 5 year contract with the TCA to be there with his special cricket-themed bouncy castle for every game, and the kids bounce for free. The graphics (designed by bouncy castle man himself) feature lifesize pictures of Ben Hilfenhaus bowling and Michael Dighton batting, but with their faces blurred in an alarming way that I associate with child-porn busts on the TV news. He doesn't want to have to redo the graphics if Hilfy or Dights are enticed to leave by another state.
No other farm animals, farmers or farm fun was to be had. A lass was selling Country Womens Association calendars for $15, but was not prepared to accept donations. There had been tin-rattlers, but they'd all gone home, she said.
So, the boys and I climbed on Boonie for fun. There is a life-size bronze statue of David Boon, executing an off drive. He played 107 Tests for Australia in the 1980s and 1990s and was fond of a drink. He is now a national selector, and is available in spooky-talking-doll form with cartons of VB beer. He is the only person I have seen both a) at the supermarket and also b) immortalised in bronze.
Tasmania came out to bat and made their intentions clear early, slumping to 4-40. The boys were quite enjoying it all, and the extremely light crowds made it easy to keep an eye on Michael as he roamed far, introducing himself to nonplussed teens, grannies and the Queensland fielders on the boundary. Every ten seconds he would turn around and wave and call 'Hi Dad!' , and it was otherwise so quiet that most of the people in the stands turned and looked at me. Every now and then a "Baaaaaaaaa" from the triangular pen would waft across the pristine international-standard outfield.
After a while I suggested we go home when Tasmania made it to 100 (chasing 239). Marcus wanted to stay to the end, Michael wanted to go. We had worn our welcome at the bouncy castle after a wrestling incident. With the score on about 98, Marcus heaved a heavy sigh and said "Let's go home now". Cricket, for all its charms, can be deeply wearying.