Saturday, December 24, 2011

My favourite Boxing Day

My favourite Boxing Day Test memory is from 1981, when the West Indies were the coolest team on the planet (that Windies team is still the coolest cricket team I’ve ever known). In the drive-you-crazy heat of Brisbane, we would always have a huge Boxing Day party, of which I saw very little. I had to jostle with adults for a seat to watch the first ball but soon they’d drift away, and only drift back in and out in ones or twos throughout the day, on the way to the fridge, or to share some time in front of the floor fan. For 35  minutes, as the players went to lunch and the boats set sail on a harbour I’d never seen, I’d grab the adults and we’d play some backyard cricket, ending five minutes before resumption for a quick cool down in the pool before a return to the sofa and the greeting from Richie Benaud.

 I’d watch the first ball of every Boxing Day Test and believe then that I would always remember them, like FA Cup final goals. I don’t though, but I do remember Australia collapsing to 3-8 and 4-25 against  Holding, Roberts, Croft and Garner. Too old to still believe in the bogeyman, these four were the scariest mofos I could imagine.

When you talk of Kim Hughes too much is made of his tearful exit as captain against the Windies; not enough of his century on Boxing Day ’81, one of the great BDT knocks.

As good as that innings was, the drama that made that day stand out for me was still to come. As the adults drifted back in for the final half an hour, Lillee and Alderman ripped through the top order. By the time Lillee was charging in for the final ball of the day, the Windies were 3-10 – our celebrations were well underway. The last ball, Lillee with shirt gaping open at the collar, gold chains jangling, charging in to Viv Richards, chomping furiously on his gum, and it’s just outside off and dragged into the stumps. Viv looks back down the wicket in shock, maybe the only time he seemed mortal to the teenage me, Lillee is off with fist pumping.

That’s mine, what about yours?