Some boys were fortunate in having fathers who were members of the Sydney Cricket Ground, they got in on a junior badge, and later, when they had their own full adult membership they would sometimes meet for pre-game number on the No 2 oval. Times change.
This is where Geoffrey Boycott the Englishman was practising, they had set up some nets and he was being bowled at by other Englishmen. And behind him, behind the wire, stood about fifty or sixty onlookers – right up close. Wicket-keeper close, so close they all flinched when a fast ball got through Boycott and hit the wire. At their feet sat about five kids, boys, about eight to eleven. Every one of them a smart arse little Australian with a smart mouth each.
They were baiting the dour old bastard.
Nobody liked GBoycott because he played cricket like a brick wall and never got out; imagine someone catching a wave and coming straight in on the white water, every time. And never falling off. That was Boycott and he was the English World Champion of Cricket for a very long time. Kelly Slater standard champion credentials. Boycott was bigtime in the old dart.
Every cricketing house in Australia had half-pissed fathers and uncles shouting insulting epithets at the TV screen every time he went in, and for all the time he was there.
Days of him, this slow grinder of runs accumulated with a bookkeeper’s care – when to run, when not to. His fidgets. Men would sometimes burst into flames watching him, combusting with Boycott rage.
So their sons had a good grounding and could command a solid flow of thoughtful insults all weighted for an accurate and piercing delivery. These were the kids sitting behind Boycott today – how young do you have to be to figure out that being there and being right in his ear is a better way to go. Kids always do things better, just look around.
So down thunders a ball and it whacks into his pads and dies, he scuffs it away, and a four-year old from Redfern calls him LBW.
‘You’re out mate, walk.’
Another ball, an off-spin from some pimpled Lancashire youth with shoulders like an arrowroot biscuit. Boycott clips it to where mid-on would be, about waist high. This time it’s a barefoot eleven year-old who got in under the fence, his turn.
‘Caught it one-handed mate, out again.’
Another ball from the fast bowler and it twerks up from the grass and gives GB a good sized whoompf in his gonad patch. The last kid, the oldest, has to wait here because everyone is laughing now, and when they stop and Boycott takes a breath he slips in the knife.
‘Get on with it mate, no nuts there to hit, just wind and shit.’
Boycott held his arm up to stop the next bowler’s approach and he turned to the faces at the wire behind him, a crowd about five deep, and then he looked down at the boys at the front. He looked for the biggest one with the biggest grin, and he locked his Yorkshireman’s glare upon him and bent down a little, and said to him face to face.
But he said it fook off, and got another round of laughter for not being able to speak the language.
That being said, I believe they are in for a belting this summer. The English.