Wiaan Mulder has helped South African spinner Keshav Maharaj to a Test Match hat-trick against the West Indies with the most extraordinary catch at leg slip.
My young fellow played his first game of cricket on Saturday. A handful of parents were there to watch their kids play in the Under 10s.
A collection of picnic rugs, camping chairs and scattered cricket equipment provided the grandstand as parent and sibling watched on, cheering every wild swing, delivery that landed on the pitch or occasional run.
It brought back some memories. As a boy growing up in country NSW, summer meant one thing.
I was from a young age a cricket tragic and my son is the same. I was always playing something to do with cricket.
Playground cricket, backyard cricket, indoor cricket, throwing and catching a ball or bowling for hours at an old chemical drum. Nowadays whenever I get home from work it’s to be greeted with “Do you want to play cricket, dad?”
Apparently the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
My son has all the books by David Warner or Glen Maxwell. He tells me his favourite shot is the ramp shot. Perhaps this is because these days kids don’t play with a rock hard six stitcher in the under 10s.
When I was a teenager my favourite book was The Joy of Cricket by John Bright-Holmes.
Just short of 300 pages, with Beefy Botham on the front cover, playing a pull shot, naturally.
There are no words to describe how much I loved that book. From the on-field exploits of cricket legends, to poetry about the early days of the game and tall tales about grudges between neighbouring counties playing out on the cricket pitch.
It couldn’t have been more appropriately titled.
What came through those pages was a pure, unadulterated love of the game, with all its traditions, quirks and foibles. Thrilling victories, devastating losses, gentlemanly declarations and over all the contest between bat and ball.
I saw that love of the game in action on Saturday: 20 kids out there doing their best to get the ball to the other end of the pitch. The intense concentration as the ball comes near.
The boasts of “I’m going to hit the first ball for six!” from the next batsman in. The sheer joy of hitting the ball past the fielder.
If you ever find yourself despairing when you read about team selections, clashes within past captains, 5-0 whitewashes and so on, remain calm. There’s a solution.
Get yourself down to your local park and watch an under 10s game. The excitement of these kids when they take a catch, or hit the ball, or get a ball on the stumps is an absolute breath of fresh air.
Or go and see a local seniors’ game for that matter, where the players play for the love of the game.
It’s the love of the contest between bat and ball.
It’s the joy of cricket.