Tag Archives: SCG

The Ashes On Ice – Cricket Doesn’t Get Hotter™

So the “leadership group” (I use that term advisedly) of the Australian cricket team has sanctioned premeditated ball-tampering… cheating.

An early prototype of The Ashes On Ice™

Cricket Australia needs an urgent fix. Something to restore the faith of the Australian and global cricket fraternity.

Fear not. I’ve been rummaging around the team kit bag and next to the stained and battered protector, I discovered something that may just save Australian cricket: The Ashes On Ice.

This concept is an absolute jaffa* as Shane Warne says during British TV cricket commentary when he’s pretending to be English. *A jaffa in Australia has a different, orange / chocolatey meaning.

The Ashes On Ice. Just let that sink in.

Imagine the crowd chanting “LILLEE LILLEE” as Dennis Lillee circa 1975 slides to the top of his mark… turns, and comes steaming in from the Nursery End. Gold necklace bouncing…
moustache bristling… ice shredding… that look of unbridled fire towards W.G. Grace who is stoically anticipating a bouncer aimed at his throat. Oh, I didn’t mention the animatronics?

Think about it. Imagine seeing the long-departed Our Don Bradman, Fiery Fred Trueman,
Keith Miller, Richie Benaud and other legends of the game get off the ice and promptly back on it?

I already have boffins working in the shed on the technology where Jeff Thomson would try and knock over Sir Leonard Hutton, Beefy Botham at his prime sledging Victor Trumper who promptly hits him into his own stand at the SCG. Ian Chappell dancing down the pitch to Alec Bedser.
Tony Greig sticking his keys into the ice. The possibilities are endless.

Why ice? Why not.

We can recreate the infamous Bodyline series with those arch-villains Larwood, Jardine and Voce taking on the courageous Aussies.

It doesn’t have to stop at Australia v the old enemy. Imagine the unbeatable West Indies,
with the great Viv Richards just chilling out on the ice. Viv never wore a helmet when he batted,
he wouldn’t need ice skates.

The greats of India, South Africa, Pakistan and New Zealand… all battling it out.
Don’t tell me you wouldn’t want to relive the infamous underarm bowling incident… on ice?
Then there are the streakers…

“Yes, hello… is that Cricket Australia…?”

©Steve Williams 2018

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Rugby League — Greatest Memories of All

Australian rugby league fans have a passion that can’t be dismissed.

It’s a game we played, grew up with, watched on the telly and listened to on the radio.
We still do. It’s our game.

Here are a few random memories from when I was a kid growing up in Sydney.

The greatest team in the history of sport (www.nma.gov.au and Melba Studios)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Getting splinters in your arse from those wooden seats at Cumberland Oval. The exuberant Eels fans that torched it after the 1981 premiership win did us all a favour.

*Running onto the ground as the fulltime siren sounded to try and grab the black and white striped cardboard corner post. I was successful a few times.

*Listening to the great Frank Hyde on 2SM. When people still listened to 2SM.

*The halftime entertainment malfunctions that have plagued Grand Finals — the busted TV allegedly to promote Optus Vision (which was actually quite prophetic), John Williamson serenading an inflatable rubber tree with “Rip Rip Woodchip” after loggers had threatened a blockade of the SCG, the cast of “42nd Street” standing forlornly in the centre of the ground waiting in vain for their music to start, and more recently, Billy Idol’s hovercraft cutting the power, which was a good thing.

*The sensational prizes bestowed on guests of TV’s “Controversy Corner” — including a Pelaco shirt, vouchers for a Viking Sauna and Kevin Junee’s Run For Your Life sports store and the piece of resistance — a bottle of Patra orange juice.

*“The Theme From Shaft” used over the closing credits of Channel Seven’s Sunday night footy coverage with Rex Mossop. Not sure what a “blaxploitation” film had to do with footy, but there’s probably a parallel. “Chips and eggs” was the standard Sunday night fare in the Williams household.

*The Chook Army (diehard supporters of Eastern Suburbs) singing “We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / we are the Ray Price haters”. One actually threw a grapefruit at him while he was in his petrified praying mantis pose — he didn’t budge.

*The “sand boy” running on with a small bucket of sand to for the ball to sit on before conversions and penalty shots at goal.

*Scanlen’s footy cards — that sweet smell of the thin pink strip of bubble gum lingering on the cards… and still lingers with me. Some bastard kid knocking the cards out of another kids’ hands in the school playground yelling “Scramble!!!” which meant a mad free-for-all.

*Having a birthday party with a few mates when I was about ten at Lidcombe Oval for the Chooks v the Magpies, we were sitting behind the try line and were captured in mid-try celebration mode in a photo on the back page of the next day’s Daily Mirror.

*The arse falling out of your meat pie at a brass monkey-inducing Sydney Sports Ground.

*The trainer scurrying on to the field with his “magic sponge” dunked in a bucket of water, mopping up a horrific head gash, then redunking it in the same bucket, primed for the next injury.

*One of my most prized possessions — the autographs of the entire victorious Roosters 1975 side (on an Easts Leagues Club wine list — thanks Uncle Pete).

For all its faults — and there are a few, it’s a bloody good game. It’s our game.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australia
The Good Old Days When Rugby Was In A League Of Its Own

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Richie Benaud – the Voice of Summer

He is being lauded as the “voice of cricket”.

I would go further — to me, Richie Benaud will always be the voice of summer.

I was too young to witness his considerable feats on the pitch, though I remember my first game of club cricket for the formidable under 11/3 side in 1975 was played at Richie Benaud Oval in North Parramatta.

Snapshots of those summers in Australia include the aroma of zinc cream and coconut oil, trying to eat your Splice ice cream before it melted, the backs of your legs sticking to the bench seats in the HR Holden, and the deafening cacophony of cicadas.

But above and beyond all that was the cricket. Playing in the backyard after school (I was always Viv Richards – yes, unAustralian I know), playing Saturday morning, then “Saturday arvo” club cricket — my SS bat was a prized possession, and of course watching the cricket on the telly and listening to Richie.

When Richie raised the microphone there were none of today’s seemingly endless blokey in-jokes and “banter”. Commentary teams of today could definitely do with his eloquence and grace.

I believe it was what Richie didn’t say in his commentary that had the most impact, those dramatic pauses that landed, followed by an insightful, sometimes gently cutting remark, spinning away with that droll and very dry sense of humour.

Richie Benaud was the absolute master of word economy and unlike most commentators, he knew we were seeing in our lounge rooms what he was seeing down the ground, he didn’t need to be constantly speaking, those periods of silence were not “dead air”.

His knowledge of the game and its spirit was incomparable, effortlessly moving from test matches to day / night games, from the SCG to Lord’s and every ground in-between.

I’m loathe to use the cliché “doyen” but…

Vale Richie Benaud. Thanks for those summers.

Words: ©Steve Williams 2015
image: www.joe-digital.com

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Cricket memories — as summer as cicadas

Officially, summer starts in Australia on December 1, but to me it’s when the first ball is bowled in the first cricket test.

To mark the occasion, here are some of my random childhood cricket memories.

“Don’t rub ’em, count ’em” — Balls of Steel circa 1980

*Watching two blokes carry a polystyrene esky chock-full of beer bottles (KB?) in front of The Hill at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1975, when the arse fell out of it. The beer shattered, they were shattered. The crowd roared, the players laughed.

*Foraging in a box of washing powder (OMO?) to discover a cricket card. That smell has stayed with me for forty years.

*The religious experience of buying a brand new Kookaburra cricket ball. Opening the box, unwrapping the paper, gently taking it out. Earnestly polishing (one side) until you could see your beaming face, and never letting it touch the ground.

*My World Series Cricket t-shirt that I wore until it had to retire hurt.

*Tony Greig walking out to bat wearing a motorbike helmet to much laughter. Later sticking his car keys in the pitch while solemnly discussing the mythical “player comfort level” off the high-tech “weather wall”.

*Getting that first “cherry” on your new cricket bat.

*The body-trembling / mind-numbing nervousness of approaching your favourite cricket player on the fence for an autograph, then the exalted glee as you float away gazing at the scrawled signature. I felt exactly the same way meeting Viv Richards when I was 37.

*Missing seeing a test hat-trick. A day at the cricket with dad, who wanted to leave early because the car park “is a shitfight”. We heard the crowd erupt — three times — from said car park.

*The terror of facing a “rep” fast bowler who started his run-up in the next suburb, and was so fast he had to stop and rest before he actually unleashed the red missile.

*Inventing day / night cricket as a kid in 1977: playing backyard cricket until mum called you in for dinner, then resuming after turning on the single Portaflood light, until mum called “stumps”.

*The voice of Alan McGilvray.

*The “Balls of Steel incident” of 1980. Bowling in a school cricket match, the ball slipped out of my hand and hit the batsmen on the full, in the, er, groinal region. He didn’t flinch. I raced down the pitch “Sorry, mate, are you ok? Good thing you’re wearing a protector.” — “I’m not.”

*Getting into fights for supporting the West Indies instead of Australia (I just preferred the way they played the game). Coruba rum is still a beverage of choice.

*The sound of the stitching of that new Kookaburra cricket ball whizzing past your nose as you missed a hoik over cow corner.

*The image of Dennis Lillee flicking sweat off his brow at the top of his run-up, then that bouncing gold chain as he thundered into bowl.

*Walking into bat, being handed a still-warm protector the just-dismissed batsman had just removed. Talk about player comfort levels.

C’mon Aussie, c’mon…

©Steve Williams 2013

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