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Behold the Baggy Greens

by SHELL SHERREE

Another cricket match went down-to-the-wire at tea time, with Australia barely winning today's one day thriller over the tenacious South African side. Rewind several years and I'd never have imagined I'd be describing using the words 'thriller' and 'cricket match' in the same sentence.

After some years of stealthy indoctrination by my hubby (aka brainwashing), my attention span for this sport has become quite self-impressive, influenced in no small part by the gentlemanly manner of the whole thing. In the drinks breaks, I half expect them to wheel out a trolley laden with pots of tea and tiers of cucumber sandwiches. Or segments of oranges, at the very least.

In the beginning, I could only watch the one day-ers. On the other hand, my hubby (ever the traditionalist) had a tendency to pooh-pooh the "pyjama cricket", so nicknamed because the players wear a rainbow of colours instead of their cricket whites. I'm quite convinced that the one day format came about at the urging of the team housekeepers, anxious to give the whites a decent chance at a hyperextended Napisan soak. Never understimate the sway of a perfectionist launderer.

While my hubby is a staunch believer that test cricket is the only 'real' cricket, I was grateful for the derring-do and thrill of the one day matches instead. I thought test cricket was something only a narcileptic (and my husband) could enjoy. And why nod off through five days of a Test cricket match when you can watch the Readers Digest condensed version instead?

Now that I've built up my cricket-viewing muscles, however, I have a greater appreciation for the finer subtleties that Test cricket offers, not to mention their brighter-than-bright whites. And if anyone doubts Aussies can get the job done without taking ourselves too seriously, just look at the endearing name given to the cap proudly worn by Aussie test cricketers since around the early 1900s: 'Baggy Green'. Not 'Cap of Champions' or 'Hat of Honour', but 'Baggy Green'. (And great for hiding grass stains. A coincidence? I think not.)

Ironically, just as I'm starting to enjoy the War and Peace of cricket, more and more people are skimming the text message of cricket: 20/20. Get your fix in three hours or less. It's a buzz, for sure. But I haven't built up my buns-of-cricket-viewing-steel for nothing, damn it! Every test that comes around, my hubby and I will be watching. And watching. And watching. Which reminds me, I have a load of whites to start soaking.

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