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Cricket in the lounge room

Having so much cricket on the TV at the moment has reminded me of cricket in my childhood in the 1950s.


My father was a keen sportsman, and played competitive cricket and tennis. He stopped paying competitive cricket in the 1930s, when he had to be home by mid-afternoon to do the evening milking. But he did play competitive tennis until he was nearer 50, as everyone else had to stop to do the milking as well. He was good at both, but chiefly enjoyed the games and mixing with friends. Mum played tennis competitively as well.


I had two brothers who were introduced to cricket when they were small children. The eldest was Cliff. There is a story that aged about 2, he played cricket in the breakfast room with Dad, who was stretched out on the couch. Dad would throw the ball, and Cliff, standing in front of the cupboard doors, would swing his little bat. I guess then he had to run a collect the ball to give it back to Dad.


The younger of my two brothers was Max. We have a photo of him, aged about 2, with his first bat. He was never long without a bat for the first 30 or 40 years of his life. He played with Dad in matches from a young age. And I was soon roped in to bowl in the backyard while he practiced. When he went to boarding school for 2 years, he was in the First Cricket Team as a batsman [ie the top team for the whole school]. I have found numerous records of his activities published in the local Ipswich paper.


While Max was away, I was still at primary school, with about 10 other students. When the teacher suggested that we play cricket in the backyard, we all had to take part. So I too had to become a cricketer, both batting and bowling, with a tennis ball. After that, the teacher, who was boarding with us, suggested I should bowl to him in our backyard, while he practiced. I politely declined.


After 2 years at Ipswich Grammar, Max came home to the farm. But he soon joined a local cricket team, and played in regular matches around the district of Chinchilla. I think Dad must have been proud of him, as he was allowed to complete matches, and not be home in time for the evening milking.


Not many years later, the farm next door to us had a new resident, a young man named John. When he was not visiting to court my big sister Val, he came to play cricket with Max. There is another photo of the two boys playing with Val outside the back door, while Mum watches from the step. I don’t think Val was particularly good with bat, as John took the opportunity to show her how to hold it!


I began this story with cricket in the breakfast in the breakfast room, and it seems to be a good place to end it. Mum Val and I were washing up in the kitchen one evening. John and Max were amusing themselves in the breakfast room, which was connected to the kitchen by on open doorway. Fortunately, it was a tennis ball that they were throwing around, trying to make each other miss catches. John made a particularly good toss, Max missed it, and it landed on the kitchen table, right among the dishes we were washing! What a noise of tumbling crockery!


John’s face was a picture of horror, and he fled through the back door. Sometime later he returned, profuse with apologies to Mum. But fortunately for him, she just laughed, as nothing had been broken. But I don’t think the ‘boys’ tossed the ball inside the house again!

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