I pinched this little example from a film. It is the job of an observant reader/film buff to tell me which one. The old man says to the youngster, look through these binoculars. See how things a long way off seem closer.
“Yes”, came the reply.
“It looks all clear and sharp, that is the future.”
“Now look through the binoculars from the other end,”
“Notice how everything looks far away and the details are harder to make out, that is like looking at the past.”
In the past, on Friday afternoon we played sport as one of our end of week activities. The big kids played their game on the school oval. The seconds played, in the school grounds. Other teams played on nearby grounds. But the kids like me had to walk all the way through town and we played on some open area near the railway station. The ground must be a mile from the school but that didn’t seem to matter. The walk to the ground, and back, used up a good deal of the available time. It suited the supervising teacher and it suited the ragbag team of leftover kids I joined.
On the particular day I most clearly remember I hit two sixes off consecutive balls. Mr Higgins the history teacher was our umpire and supervising teacher. He had an English background and he was horrified that anyone would so recklessly swing their bat – even at a bad ball – and swat at it as I had. So, he halted the game and took a moment to instruct me how I should hold the bat.
“Hold it straight up and down like this.”
He instructed the bowler to bowl a ball at him. From the crease he demonstrated how to properly stroke the ball to the boundary with a simple twist of the wrist keeping the blade of the bat upright and close to the legs at all times. His four was made effortlessly. It was flicked to the boundary as he moved his feet forward and the bat gracefully struck the ball to the off past the keeper.
“Now you have a go.”
I did. I was clumsily holding the bat upright as instructed but I could clearly see the ball could not be reached if I stayed put. I had the ball clearly in my sight so I did as I had in the previous two shots and I flicked out my bat and I missed the ball altogether. Mr Higgins was unimpressed.
“When the ball is wide like that it is not going to hit your stumps so you don’t have to hit it. Just let it fly past to the wicket keeper. It is his job to stop it -not yours. If he misses and the ball runs away your team can pick up the byes. Now try again.
I did. I waited patiently while the bowler walked back to his mark. I kept the bat upright. I patted the toe of the bat on the ground a couple of times. The bowler turned and started to run at me. Out the corner of my eye I could see a big gap on the leg side. I waited. The bowler was about to deliver the ball. I wasn’t watching his hand as he released it and it was more than halfway down the pitch before I saw it. It was on my leg side. I took a big swing and I hit it as hard as the balls I had whacked for six.
Mr Higgins cried out. “Not like that.”
Some little Twerp at mid off ran in toward me. I had miss hit it. The ball flew high into the air a little forward of me. By the time I saw the ball again it was swallowed into the Twerp’s hands.
“Out” came the umpire’s decision.
My innings was over. As the last man in we packed up and on the way back to school gave me some home truths on the finer points of cricket.
That was not my only cricketing gift. When I was about thirteen I was given a full sized bat by two of my uncles who played district cricket in Melbourne. It was a beautifully well oiled, well used, piece of willow. Paul and Hughie said it was a good bat and I would enjoy using it. They could no longer use it though because a couple of the rubber springs in the handle were broken.
I had a man sized for the first time. At home I had no one interested in cricket. In my primary school cricket matches were played at sports time. We would all go outside. The teacher would choose, Spencer and Thommo to act as captains and choose from the classmates lined up against the wall. First one boy, and another would be chose by Spencer or Thommo until each boy was chose to play in team one or two. I was always one of the last to be chosen.
I have fairly recounted my most memorable day in cricket above and it will come as no surprise my bat was dormant most of its life with me until I saw I could repurpose it.
I took a saw to it and fashioned the willow into the hull of a yacht. I cut off the handle. It was never any good. It had broken springs. I cut both sides of the toe into a point. I drilled a hole in the centre and I attached a mast. I walked to Lake Bullen Merri and did as men do. I played around with boats.
Nearing the same age Sam has a bag of cricket paraphernalia. He has been selected to represent his district in a series of regional games. He is the Spencer, or the Thommo of my era that was once selected to pick out players for the team. I do hope he gets to hear part of his cricketing heritage comes from the grandfather that once played under the influence of Mr Higgins.
Thanks for reading. Where did I find the opening reference?
Al Pacino in ?.?
I have remembered. It was Al Pacino in the Netflix 2019 movie, The Irishman.