Dad worked for IBM; they reckon it stood for I've Been Moved, which was true for our family. I was born in Sydney, moved north to Brizzy and then west to Perth, within my first five years. Wembley Downs Primary School in Perth was where I learnt how to read, write, spell and add up. It's also where my love of everything to do with sport began, particularly cricket.
7:30pm was always bedtime but in 1972, aged 8, I'd take the radio to bed and listen to Alan McGilvray commentating on the cricket in a far off land called England, simply amazed that they still wore jumpers in the middle of summer. I'd fall asleep some time during the first session and then wake up to news of the whole day's play that had unfolded as I dreamed of playing for Australia in that far off land. Disappointingly, John Snow, one of England's best fast bowlers, was at his peak and several times he ripped through our batting line up and so, by the end of the fourth test the ashes were staying in England. Still, we proudly won the last test at the oval to square the series 2-2.
Soon after that DKL and Thommo formed one of the most potent attacks in Australian cricketing history and the Chapple brothers, together with other reprobates like Dougie Walters, starting forming a great team. And the famous scorebook entry of Caught Marsh Bowled Lillee has well and truly entered the Australian lexicon.
It's 1974 and the poms are coming down to OZ for the Ashes. The first test has been in Brizzy and we bash up the poms a bit and win convincingly. The second test is in Perth and the English combatants are a bit bruised so they send for reinforcements. Colin Cowdrey, the human shield, jets in. The excitement in the city is buzzy - as buzzy as can be - and given the amount of flies in Perth, that my friends, is a lot of buzzy excitement. Then I hear that our school is going on an excursion on the first day of the test. Bloody hell, why oh why would they do that, I want to listen to the cricket!! But then I become delirious when I hear that the "excursion" is to the WACA to watch the cricket; smart buggers, those Wembley Downs school teachers.
That first day of watching cricket is etched in my mind. You need to watch every ball in case something happens, which it rarely does. Mostly the bowler bowls and the batter prods at the ball, or let's it whistle by, whilst the fielders walk around whistling a tune or two. Watching cricket is a true meditation on life, not much happens most of the time but you know something is going to happen, which keeps you holding on to every ball, to watch as matters unfold.
Day one passes happily enough, a regular stream of English batters head back to the pavilion, heads down, swatting at our flies. Dad leaves work early and he's there for the last session. He buys me some chips, as he knocks back the froth on a couple of Swan Lagers. He's having a great time and he decides we'll come out the following day for the second day's play and watch the Aussies bat. Hurrah!!
Day two is even better than day one. Dougie Walters comes in just before tea and goes mental in the last session. By the last ball of the day, he needs four to get to a hundred, six to have made a century in the session. Bob Willis comes bounding in, legs a kimbo, all jaunty, hair flopping from side to side - and to his eternal credit - bowls a bouncer to Dougie to give him a risky chance at the century. The ball goes sailing over the mid wicket boundary for six and Dougie's innings goes down in history. He gets out almost first ball the next day, I suspect he blew the froth off a couple more than he should of, celebrating the previous night.
We win the ashes back that season and my love of test cricket is there for a lifetime.
My shop is called The Aussie Pie Shop and I sometimes mull over what it means to be an Aussie. It means so many things but it certainly has a bit of a larrikin's mischief in it. You work hard but you play harder. You play the game with a level of unsurpassed competitiveness but when you're off the field you laugh about it with your competitors. You love life in the great outdoors 'cause you know you'll be dead a long time. You stick up for your mates come hell or high water, even when they've done something wrong or stepped over the line (because hey who doesn't get it wrong sometimes). But then you have a quiet word over a beer or two and make sure they apologise, if needs be.
There have been a lot of great Aussies. And there have been a lot of great Aussie cricketers. Rodney "Bacchus" Marsh and Shane "Warnie" Warne are in that list.
But these two easily make the list of total legends, real Farkin' Aussie Legends.
They're now dead, these two legends, more or less on the same day. But I'm pretty sure they are both looking down at us all from the ultimate pavilion, beer in one hand, pie in the other, laughing at us all, shouting out together, Get On With It and Have A Go Ya Mug.
Which is just what I'm gonna do!
Thanks Bacchus and Warnie. RIP.