Going the distance for cricket, friendship and family in the time of coronavirus

Going the distance for cricket, friendship and family in the time of coronavirus



The journey was long. We drove zigzagging our way down from Newcastle, Australia.

Where were we headed? A legendary large space, stuck in the memories of boys and girls of Australia. The colosseum known as the MCG. Boxing Day 2020 Australia versus India.

To go the journey it would take us 14 hours by car. We started by heading west – that’s right west.

Ahh Covid, how I despise thee.

We headed out through Dubbo to avoid any covid hotspots as we had no desire to give the good people at the Victorian border an excuse for a denial of entry.

We ticked off the country towns with our one eyed goal in mind, the fabled MCG. The scene of so many memories and opportunities for Nostalgia. Now it will be our turn.

Different? Yes. Capped crowd? We care not!

The term bucket list has become of bit of a cliche over the years (largely thanks to Mr Jack Nicholson and Mr Morgan Freeman) but for my father, brother and I this was it!

Of all the buckets and all the lists, this was it. We were going the journey. A 14-hour drive, nerves at the border, capped crowd, no problems. (These are the definition of first world problems I know..)

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For the three of us this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The train ride to the ground on the first day was mostly spent in silent reflection pondering the possibilities of the day.

What memories and nostalgia will we be able to call on in the years to come?

To have our father with us is a real treat. A generous and caring man, a man who taught us to love the game (among many other things). Because of health and other things, this seemed an impossibility. But here we are.

The glint in his eye, we he first gazed upon the pleasantness of the manicured grass on this turf that has hosted so many sporting memories, when he gazed upon the size of the ground, when he looked at my brother and I as he contemplated the magnitude of this family occasion.

These are priceless memories that we will recall for years to come.

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

If I’m sounding a little over the top about all this, then that’s ok. As I know deep down inside, most people who grew watching what happened at this ground, but only watching via the tv or listening on the radio, would feel the same as I did on this day.

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Watching my father’s initial reactions to being at the ground became more poignant to me when I witnessed a moving piece of Australian history.

Legendary Victorian and Australian Cricketer Dean Jones passed away suddenly earlier this year. Today the cricketing world paid tribute to him at a ground that in Deano’s words he knew every blade of grass on.

Some beautiful words were said and a fitting ceremony was held in which Dean’s bat, famous glasses and his fabled baggy green were placed on and at the base of the stumps out in the middle.

It truly was a moving moment, but what was even more moving was watching his dear wife and his two daughters with the support of former Australian captain Allan Border, walk out and place these special items out there together arm in arm, thoughts no doubt filled with the man they love.

Why did this hit me so? Perhaps it dawned on me even more that yes it’s an amazing ground and amazing things in a sporting sense have been happened there, but at the end of the day, life is family and family is life.

I felt privileged to witness this moment and privileged to be there with my father.

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I mentioned my brother who was also along with us, a cricket lover if ever I saw one. A genuine stats man, who also was in awe of this place.

A lover of the feeling of nostalgia, when he first cast his eyes over this place, I’m in no doubt he calls to mind the things he has seen on TV.

I wonder though, I feel he can’t wait for this to be over. Why? So that he can recall the memories and feel the nostalgia of his own personal experience on this special occasion.

For me, happiness and contentment is what I feel. As I write these words before the first balled is bowled, from bay 12 sitting at about cow corner. Australia have won the toss and predictably (and for us excitedly) elected to bat.

What will the day bring? Doesn’t matter. We are here and we are happy.

Perhaps my memory, my moments of recall nostalgia will be the look in my father’s eyes after going the journey and finally the arrival at this grand old colosseum with the well manicured grass.

Hoping to see some cricket, but not that worried about that. Happy to be here. Life is family and family is life.

Play on!

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