Most Aussie kids grow up playing backyard cricket of some sort. When daylight savings rolled around each summer we would stay out until it got dark and play. After agreeing on rules such as ‘over the fence is out’ and ‘one hand one bounce’ we would try to find a flat strip of grass to play on. Bowling was a challenge as you never knew which way the ball would bounce on the short, spiky tufts of grass and you would almost certainly be out after a ‘swing and miss’ due to an over sized wheelie bin as your wicket. The game usually ended when the other kids had to go home or when I argued with my brother over whether I was really out. Unfortunately for him this was more about negotiation skills and less about whether I was out, so I usually won.
I was a sporty kid so I guess my mum wasn’t overly surprised when I came to her one day clutching my face and crying in pain because i got hit in the face with a wayward ball, breaking my nose and giving me a great pair of black eyes. At school I played in the girls cricket team and I enjoyed watching the One Day International (ODI) matches until late at night.
Recently I seem to have lost touch with cricket and I have no idea what 20/20 is all about…but my Nan does.
Meet my Nan, Phyllis.
I think it would be safe to say that my Nan loves cricket, well she likes all sports really; tennis, swimming but in particular Cricket.
Over the past years she has mentioned a few times that she would love to go to a match. The rest of the family would be more likely to sign up to have their teeth pulled out than sit through a cricket match but I really wanted to go at least once and there’s no one I’d like to go with more that my Nan.
Christmas was approaching and I thought it would be nice to surprise her with tickets. After floating the idea with the rest of the family we came up with a plan. We picked the weekend that my parents would already be in Sydney for a concert, my brother could visit my Pop and I’d catch the train to Sydney with Nan.
I looked at the remaining seats through the online booking system and was disappointed at what looked like a handful of terrible seats. I was a little concerned that we would be seated with a group of young, drunk, half-naked, face painted boys. Now don’t get me wrong, that has its place, I could totally imagine Nan in a pit of chanting cricket fans, drenched in beer, covered with zinc, whistle in her mouth leading the Mexican wave and hugging drunk, outrageously buff and half-naked boys every time we got a wicket couldn’t you?!
I rang the ticket hotline and was put through to the special access branch after slightly exaggerating the access needs of my Nan given her double knee replacement in 2010. Is it a crime to want good seats for our once in a lifetime cricket trip? So I embellished a little, big deal, it got us good seats so mission accomplished.
Christmas day came and I was excited. I honestly didn’t care about receiving anything and I could barely remember what we had for everyone else. I just wanted my Nan to open her present. As she tore the paper i looked at mum who was ready to trip the waterworks switch, Nan looked at the tickets and in a never-ending moment of suspense, called for her glasses. I don’t think i have ever seen her speechless like that before. Mum was off, mopping up her tears and I was a little teary myself, it was really special to me to see Nan so happy.
The time flew between Christmas and February and before we knew it we were on the train with our ‘granny shopping trolley’ in tow. We decided to get some lunch before the match and that’s when the wheels fell off the whole operation.. literally. Our poor little trolley laden with goodies couldn’t cope. As I proceeded to drag it’s heavy lifeless body up the street past the fire station I saw a fireman chatting on his phone. Now i don’t know about you but when we have a fire alarm at work everyone flocks to the windows to checkout the highly anticipated fireman only to be disappointed by the arrival of several forty something, sweaty, balding men with way too much hair sprouting from their shirts and a waistline that would rival Santa Claus…THIS.WAS.NOTHING.LIKE THAT!
I looked at the trolley, then at the guy who clearly just fell out of a fireman calendar, back to the trolley before slightly stumbling on a piece of imaginary pavement. “I’ll call you back” he said to the person on the other end of the phone as he came over and took the trolley from me one-handed. Nan stood at the entrance to the old stone fire station building while Mr. February found some cable ties and fixed the wheel of our poor old trolley.
Daytime TV/woman in distress moment over and we were back on track. We had lunch and headed to the stadium. Our seats were quite good, slightly to the side of the pitch. We got settled and the West Indies decided to bat first. You are still looking at his Ab’s aren’t you,take a moment…now focus and let’s move on.
DISASTER for the West Indies!! 1/17, 3/30, 4/44, 5/50, 6/55 what was going on! The whole stadium started cheering for the WI team, willing them to get more runs. We were sure we’d be home for dinner at the rate they were going, then Pollard saved the day with 109* and a total for WI of 220. What an exciting comeback!
I was lucky enough to find a stand that was giving free commentary radios to everyone that had their phone with Vodafone. I managed to get a second one for Nan when I explained to the guy that my Nan didn’t have a phone but if she did it would totally be with Vodafone, after laughing and rolling his eyes i left the stand with another radio.
The second part of the afternoon involved Australia playing it safe, hitting 1’s and 2’s until slowly but surely the WI total dwindled. Part of the fun was actually watching the half-naked, face painted, drunken mob make a snake out of empty beer cups that went from the field to the upper stand then listening to them chant ‘Bull S#!T’ when the police took it away. There was also a Coca Cola beach complete with sand and people in various silly costumes for the best costume competition.
Then there were watermelon hats…So, the story goes that there was once a guy that took a whole watermelon to the cricket and after he ate it he carved it into the shape of a helmet with eye holes and wore it on his head for the whole game. Vodafone now make cardboard ones and give them out. This had to be done…and with less convincing than I thought I’d need, I give you the watermelon heads! Now, Nan has said I can post pictures as long as she doesn’t look silly so here is us NOT looking silly.
At the end of the day the Aussies won, but we didn’t really care who won we were just glad that it was a good game and I got to spend a great day out with Nan.
We made it back to our motel tired and happy having experienced an adventure together outside the everyday. Thanks for a great day Nan!