Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The South Australian connection

The concern of the Indian cricket fan for those matters that might not lie within his ambit is a well-known phenomenon. Witness for instance, the strange interest in the English County Cricket Championship (even when no Indian player is participating). I have a confession of my own, particularly appropriate as the fourth test in Adelaide approaches: I am a fan of South Australia. My fandom has taken a bit of a dip in recent years, but I can easily remember times when it was quite serious. Most of this however, is quite comprehensible: Don Bradman, Ian Chappell and David Hookes all played for South Australia (and captained the team at various times). It started, as most Indian fan's stories do, with Don Bradman. I realized very quickly that he had played for South Australia, and thus very quickly adopted that state as my cricketing home away from home (they must have been good, and somehow blessed, to have the Don playing for them). Even the realization, upon reading Farewell to Cricket, that the Don had only played for South Australia because of economic reasons (he turned out to be, of all things, a New South Welshman) did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for the land of Shiraz and non-criminalized marijuana (the Don had nothing to do with these vices, I'm sure). My liking for South Australia was greatly enhanced by the arrival of another statistical freak: David Hookes, who lashed five centuries in six innings in the Sheffield Shield and was promptly drafted into the Centenary Test, whereupon he set about getting himself another five-fer, this one a garland of boundaries scored off Tony Grieg. It's another matter that Hookes never quite repaid all the attention I paid to his test career (his mediocre performances in the 1977 Ashes was just the beginning). Finally Ian Chappell, with his "three-bouncers-in-an-over-means-12-runs-to-me" proclamations, and his endless clashes with authority sealed the package.

It was only natural that I would automatically select Adelaide as my favorite Australian cricketing ground. I read with delight about how beautiful it was, about its short square boundaries (well, that explained all those happy hookers, didn't it?). One of the best cricketing lines I read concerned Graeme Pollock's 175 at Adelaide during the 1963-64 series. As Pollock hit one of his three sixes off the Aussie duo of Benaud and Hawke, the ABC commentator on air at the time, (whose name sadly escapes me now), murmured, "Murder in the cathedral".

More on Adelaide tomorrow.


Blogger John said...

xcellent write. Waiting for more on Adelaide.

5:18 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

Right at the moment they are the worst domestic cricket side in Australia.

But they always have players i like.

Dizzy, Lehmann, Siddons (he was half victorian though), and this man who had the scariest eyes ever.

8:15 AM  
Blogger samir said...


Coming right up! (perhaps tonight when I sit down to watch the test).

JRod: I liked all of those guys as well. I feel sad for Jamie - screwed by the fact that he played cricket at a time when he couldn't get a game with the test side. Does he still hold the record for the most runs in the Shield comp?

11:13 AM  

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