Raw cricket

IMG_5907Raw. That’s the only way I can describe domestic first class cricket.

Played in the same major grounds that host international matches, but with only the tiniest number in the stands to soak up the action and compete with the sounds of the middle, you hear and feel everything so much more keenly.

Every grunt of exertion, every shout or clap of encouragement or groan of disappointment, every slap of ball on bat, or thud of ball hitting pads, guards or helmet.

Even great performances feel all the more raw for the inevitably modest recognition from the small crowd.

I love it.

For a newbie to the world of cricket like me, it offers a much better opportunity to watch and analyse and try to understand the game. There’s less distraction, from fans and big match theatrics alike. Less likelihood of feeling overwhelmed by the occasion and finding the action passes in a blur. Plus I’m 100% more likely to be able to get a seat end-on to the wicket where my dodgy eyes have a much better chance of following the ball.

My first experience of live professional cricket was a Sheffield Shield match at the MCG in 2013. My latest and current is one of the same series in the current season but at the much more modest WACA ground. Both equally enticing and enjoyable.

Even rain breaks have their charm. It gives some time out to reflect, catch up on other concurrent matches, do some writing or reading or just go for a walk and stretch the legs.

I love it how the birds take over when the rain sets in at the cricket. They started poking around the western end of the field as soon as the ground staff came out to cover the pitch and square this afternoon. Once the humans’ work was all done, the birds descended on the white square themselves to inspect the work of the ground crew.

It reminded me of my first match experience at the MCG and my great surprise at the audible bird life within the stadium right throughout play. I was later to learn that even at the Boxing Day Test you can hear and see them – they’re a hardy bunch over in the cold state.

As a proud Western Australian, of course I would love for the Western Warriors to win this match against the NSW Blues and gain a home final. But if I’m totally honest, I don’t actually care too much.

It’s not that often that I get to travel down from Geraldton to Perth to enjoy first class matches. So I ask only for a good match, a close match, with plenty of interest. And not too much rain.

I hope the cricket gods are listening.

Defying the rain – the verdict

After the misery of yesterday, I decided that today I just had to give it a chance. So 7:30 this morning I was on the train bound for Melbourne and the MCG – defying the rain to rob me of some cricket joy.

The verdict? Totally worth it!

20131109-125830.jpg

Oh, the cricket action is not bad either. Rogers got another ton, White’s now warming up for another good knock I think. NSW struggling for wickets, a draw almost certain.

The frustration of rain…

I’d been so looking forward to heading down to Melbourne again today to catch some Sheffield Shield action (VICvsNSW) but the weather forecast was so dire – 95% chance of 5-10mm rain – that I managed to talk myself out of it, thinking there wouldn’t be much play.

Bugger, bugger, bugger!

One full session played already without interruption – and a great one at that with Rogers and Quiney both on fire – and here I am sitting at home (where it is raining, adding to my misery :() regretting not giving it a chance. Already it would have been worth the two hours travel each way …

To add insult to injury – I can’t even console myself today with watching England vs Australia A on the telly because – you guessed it – rain in Hobart too!!

Edgbaston 2007 tmlvngs flickrI am starting to appreciate the world I’ve got myself into – one where the rain is the greatest enemy, and trying to predict it and make plans accordingly can have great consequences for the cricket tragic.

It’s a delicate balancing act of considering the options – particularly if you live in a regional area as I do and the action you’re looking to catch is in a main city some distance away.

Do I go on the off-chance that my virtue and patience in being prepared to sit watching an empty ground get wet could be rewarded with some fantastic play if the rain doesn’t arrive as forecast? Is it better to give it a try and be content with reading a good book while there’s no play, than to regret not being there when something great happens?

Speaking of which – just checked in, they’re back in action after lunch and Rogers has just hit a six. Bugger!

photo credit: tmlvngs via photopin cc