Thursday, 25 November 2010

In praise of the baggy green cap: my love of cricket

Well, sweet PB friends, I’m chuffed so many of you enjoyed my second stationery post. I had so much fun, I want to do another straight away! As requested, I’ll now write a regular stationery post, just to keep you all happy ☺ (not to mention me). Anyway, onto far more topical matters – today was the first day of the First Ashes Test between Australia and England. What’s that, you ask? Well, for those not in the know, it’s a very auspicious day for cricket fans in both countries. The Ashes Tests have been played since 1882 in one of the sporting world’s most celebrated rivalries. Both countries possess very proud records in these contests. And today was a ripper for Australian fans! Before I explain why, here’s a quick explanation for the uninitiated about cricket.  
The main equipment used
What is cricket?

• It’s a team sport played with wooden bats and leather balls.

• It’s played on a grassed (normally oval) field. In the field’s centre is a rectangular 22-yard (20.12 m) long pitch where the main action occurs.

• A match (or game) is played between two teams with 11 players each (both having a reserve ‘12th man’ who can play as a substitute, with conditions, when a player is injured).

• One team bats, aiming to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying both to dismiss the batsmen and limit the runs scored by them.

• A run is scored by the striking batsman hitting the ball with his bat, running to the opposite end of the pitch and touching the crease (or line) there without being dismissed. The batting team’s ‘innings’ is completed when (usually – it’s quite complex!) 10 of its batsmen have been dismissed.

• At the end of the first innings, the two sides switch between batting and fielding. This process is completed twice by each team so there are four innings in total. Still with me?!

What are Test matches?

• Test cricket is the highest form of the game. Four innings take place over up to five days.
The fieldsmen waiting to catch the ball

• It is played by Australia, England, South Africa, West Indies (formed by players from a number of Caribbean nations and dependencies), New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

What are the Ashes?

The Ashes is a Test Cricket series played biennially between the United Kingdom and Australia. Five matches are held at five different cricket grounds in the host country. If a series is drawn (with each side having the same number of Test match wins), then the country already holding the Ashes retains them.

Why do they have that funny name?

As Mr Wikipedia notes, ‘The series is named after a satirical obituary published in a British newspaper…in 1882 after a match…in which Australia beat England on an English ground for the first time. The obituary stated that English cricket had died and the body would be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The English media dubbed the next English tour to Australia (1882–83) as the quest to regain The Ashes. During that tour, a small terracotta urn was presented to England captain Ivo Bligh by a group of Melbourne women. The contents of the urn are reputed to be the ashes of an item of cricket equipment, possibly a bail, ball or stump.’

The famed obituary
Here is the fragile little urn in question.
This is what all the fuss is about!
It is so delicate that it has remained in the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum at Lord's cricket ground in London since its presentation by Bligh's widow upon his death. Only once has it travelled to Australia. Replicas of the urn are held aloft by victorious teams at the completion of each series.

Where are the Ashes Tests being played now?

This series is being played in Australia over the summer. England currently holds the Ashes.

What happened today in the First Ashes Test?

The First Test started today in Brisbane. England was bowled out for 260 runs. Australia reached 0 wickets (ie no batsman was given ‘out’) for 25 runs by the end of play.

That may not sound extraordinary to some of you. But for cricket lovers in both countries, it was a huge day. To have all 10 English batsmen dismissed in less than a day for a relatively low score is extremely impressive.

But what took the cake was the performance of Australian bowler, Peter Siddle. On his 26th birthday, he took six wickets (dismissed six batsmen) for only 54 (paltry) runs. But the pièce de résistance was his ‘hat-trick’ – he took three wickets in three consecutive deliveries! This is a rare and remarkable feat. Australians the world over will be toasting his achievement long into tonight! See here for an explanation of ‘hat-trick’.

The man of the moment, Peter Siddle
Why do I love cricket?

So, why do I know all of this? Well, I am a passionate, unabashed and life-long ‘cricket tragic’ as known colloquially in Australia. I have been following the game with intense interest for over 30 of my 40 years. As a child growing up in Hobart, I used to get terrible heat rash when exposed to the sun. That meant I spent many long summer days inside, watching the cricket, while my friends were at the beach.

I’ve followed the game avidly ever since, in all its forms – Test, One Day (50 overs -there are six balls to an over – per side)and the Sheffield Shield (the Australian domestic competition between the six Australian states). As a Tasmanian, I was extremely proud today to see three Tasmanians in the Australian side including the Captain, Ricky Ponting.

So, there you go, an attempt to explain my love of cricket! Hmm, I doubt this interest of mine will be as popular as stationery…Let me know if you’re a fellow fan of the 'Baggy Green' (the affectionate name for the green Australian team cap worn by Test players) – there must be a few of us out there!


  1. I sit writing this in Cpt V's office beneath a beautifully framed and signed photo of the 1948 'Invincibles'.
    In the bookshelf behind me is a plethora of cricket history with titles such as 'Bradman's Best Ashes Teams' and almost every cricketer's bio or auto bio ever written. On the bar downstairs sits a replica ashes urn beneath a huge montage of Steve Waugh's achievements.
    None of this is mine, it's Cpt. V's but I guess you could say it's mine by proxy.

    Today he and his youngest are starting what he hopes will become a tradition between them and are attending the 2nd day of the Ashes at The Gabba.

    They are both adorned in Aussie Cricket Gear, the youngest has his cricket bat and a huge book with fun facts all about the game. They have binoculars, camera, and the transistor radio along with the ubiquitous packed lunch.

    We have tickets to the Boxing Day test in Melbourne so I too will get my chance to witness Aussie Sporting glory with Cpt V......what a way to start the year.

    x Felicity

    PS How good was Siddle?

  2. Another cricket fan here :) I was weaned on the Ashes and cut my teeth on an old cricket bat. Bodyline, Bradmad and Jardine were words that fitted in seamlessly with my growing years and when I was sent to boarding school (Zimbabwe) I began to train as an offical provincial scorer. Not many of us girls that did that! It was how my husband and I fell in love, game after sweltering game through our teens, me sitting under the jacarandas and pressing my pencil into the scorebook, while squinting at him fielding in his whites :) We keep a huge vase of old cricket balls in our home - a tribute to this beautiful game.

  3. To me, the sound of cricket on the radio is the sound of summer. Peace. x

  4. I remember watching cricket on the TV and eating trays of stone fruit in the searing hot that is Canberra in summer...have to say though as I have gotten older...I am more of a tennis girl. Lucky they are both on over summer :) Enjoy the Ashes and I hope you have the loveliest weekend dear Jane ~ Txx

  5. An Aussie summer tradition in our house too, Jane. Growing up, we had the Christmas day cricket match at Ford's farm. Someone's kid always smashed a window, someone's uncle always pulled a muscle thinking they'd manage the good ole classic catch. Several intoxicated dads drove their tired but happy family home at the end of the day. Oh dear. Up at 5am, farming families would then spent the 'hottest part of the day' in on the lounge, watching tele, enjoying the summer cricket season (with whatever cooling they could afford). Thanks for the happy memories Jane! Have a lovely weekend with your family x

  6. Definitely not a cricket tragic but I had a great day years ago watching Australia play the West Indies at the WACA. And my elderly parents never, ever miss watching on the tele. Guess that's what I'll be hearing this Boxing Day :)

  7. I am with Tina, way more a tennis girl. Actually a squash girl. I like my sport hard and fast!

  8. Oh, squeal! I was prepared for a deafening silence with this post ☺. I love all your insights.

    Felicity, where to start? Your comment is pure heaven for me. I love the idea of the family tradition being created. Just priceless. Ooh, and enjoy your day in the sun in Melbourne - one of my dreams is to attend a Boxing Day Ashes test match. Sigh. Oh, and Siddle for PM. Enough said.

    Amy, thanks so much for commenting. I'm thrilled to have found your fascinating blog about ex-pat life. Ah, Bradman (his birthday was very close to mine) - just the surname evokes so many powerful emotions in me! And 'Jardine the sardine' (have you heard about that famous cry from 'Yabba'?)- a classic. Did you see the TV series 'Bodyline' with Gary Sweet as Bradman? Well worth a watch. And like Felicity, I love that picture you paint of your youth. I can just imagine it. I love that nostalgic touch about the balls - I may just have to suggest that one to Mr PB for here!

    Absolutely, Bron. I adore Jim Maxwell. He's calling his 50th Ashes Test now. We always have the telly turned down and listen to the ABC. However, they really need to sort out that fraction of a second delay, don't you think?

    And Tina, yes, I adore watching the Australian Open as well. It's a brilliant time of year for us sports fans, isn't it?

    Love it, love it, love it, Paula. Just brilliant childhood memories.

    Ooh, Kerry, they were real contests in the mid-1980s, weren't they? Clive Lloyd (I saw him play in Hobart on a tour game), Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards, Gus Logie, Joel Garner, Courtney Walsh - just mentioning their names evokes so many long-forgotten memories for me. Classic.

    I'll have to remember that about you, Deb! J x

  9. My husband's birth notice in the newspaper heralded 'the newest member of Sorrento Cricket Club' in 1979. What chance did I have? I have made it quite clear to my husband that when selecting my next (husband), and I am speed dating, my first question will be, "do you play cricket?" and if the response is affirmative then he doesn't stand a chance! Luke is taking his first season off this year while we build and I work weekends, but with two boys in the house something tells me I have not seen the last of grass stains on cricket whites!
    X Briohny.

  10. I am quite partial to a bit of cricket myself. Am loving the Test this weekend - a shame things aren't really going to plan!

  11. I must admit I am not a huge fan of cricket but my hubby and son love it. They are off to watch it tomorrow actually.

    Maddy and I will be spending our day shopping in the city...much more my thing!

    Best wishes and happy weekend,

  12. Oh, Briohny! You sound like the classic cricket widow. Oh, and how do you get those stains out?

    Yes, MM, what a stupendous, record-breaking partnership that was today. One for the ages.

    I hope you girls enjoyed your retail therapy, Natasha! J x

  13. Hi my friend!! :) So glad to see you entered my giveaway!!! Hope you are doing lovely~*~HUGS,Rachel

  14. I now know more about cricket than I ever did before. Very informative post!

  15. Oh, Kelly. I am so pleased - it was incredibly hard to go back to basics and explain it. Well, the simplified form ☺. J x

  16. I actually remembered this about you and literally thought about you while I wrote it :) Is there never a UK v Australia match in England? XOL


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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