Sunday, 26 July 2009

When Dougie Did The Double

This is part of what I do in realtime gentlemen and it will also give you much of the motivation I have for the game. This piece, retells my first Test match, Feb 1969 at the SCG. Sitting in the old Sheridan Stand, I watched Doug Walters become the first Test player to score a double and single century in the one Test. I scored most of his first innings double in the back of an old maths exercise book, using tally marks. Forty years later, the passion is still so hot that I still have to suck that extra bit of breath when I come around the end of the Churchill Stand and see the ground on the first morning early January at the Sydney Test. I guess you guys have similar stories about "The G".

Anyway, expressed in my favourite form, the following is "When Dougie Made The Double"

Summer blazed in grainy black & white,
until I walked through a TV window
past stands of old corrugated iron and older wood,
into the vivid colours of my youth
and found a new home between
the Randwick and Paddington ends.
White skins were pink and brown
and black came in different shades
as a battle between willow and leather
made the sounds of resonant gun shots
across an oval billiard table
of deep green, light green mown magic.
I passed my first Test watching a first.
National service done but, he still stood to attention
to clip laconically to leg or pull with surprising violence
and all recorded in scribbled tallies
in the vacant back pages of 5th class maths.
Such days, such firsts
never to be repeated
never to be forgotten.
Heroes dressed as heroes are,
all stains and flaws lost in the whiteness,
all the same, all different,
all heroes through twelve year old senses
fresh to colour and sounds and smells
too big to imagine or rich to swallow
without savouring the sensation.
Cut grass aromas new just now;
a bobbing towelling hat mosaic
in hues so bright I still squint;
the cheering politeness to both victor and vanquished;
and a crowd wit still entertaining
down this winding corridor of years.
Wonders not lost on an aging boy’s spirit.
I was there.
I still am.


  1. nice piece mate.
    there certainly is a sense of the surreal and magical knowing you are witnessing an historic moment. plenty for me at the G, most recently was Warnes 700, that will take some beating.

  2. I’ve unfortunately not experienced such ethereal heights of cricket paradise at the home of Australian Cricket, Adelaide Oval. The poem and the mere fact of Dougie Walters hitting a ton and double ton in the same test is sensational.

    The summer before last is probably the pick as I saw Tendulkar hit a hundred and I had a member’s pass. The best day of cricket I’ve ever watched at the ground. He is a genius pure and simple. One period against Lee typifies this guy. Lee was bowling fairly full outside off-stump, Tendulkar cover-drove twice in a row straight to cover. The third ball was put in the same place and he hit it effortlessly between cover and mid-off for four. The thing about it was he knew what he wanted to do and just carried out his plan – he was always going to get it through as it was the right shot to play. No chances were given and he really has every shot in the book. The story about him putting away the cover drive at some other time because he wasn’t happy with how he was hitting them, and still making a ton, says a lot about both his discipline and ability.

  3. Tendulkar is the best I have watched, followed closely by GS Chappell.

    I scored Tendulkar's double century against Aus at the SCG in Jan 04 at the ground and he hardly scored a run on or outside the off stump. Instead he made the bowlers bowl where he wanted it and carved them up off his legs.

    It was fiting he held the catch at deep square leg to end Tugger's career.

  4. Lefty, what about the last day of the 07 Adelaide Ashes test; what an awesome day with Warne flat out refusing to give up the nut until he had secured the Ashes. i was glued to the box and captivated by Warnes use of every delivery to get his objective.

    an historic day!

    stoph verismo
    down the wicket

  5. Tendulkar too for me... but i just can't get past G.Chappell's call for the mully grubber to give him ANY credits. Shame Greg Shame! burn another effigy.

  6. Absolutely Stoph but I wasn’t there. I was referring to test cricket I was privileged to witness first hand. I was working at the time (20 mins walk from Adelaide Oval!) and heard about it at the end of play. I couldn’t believe England could lose the unlosable. But then again that’s Warne.
    The thing with the under-arm is that one of the players at the time was whingeing about it after the game. I think it was Walters who took them out in the middle after play and asked them to bowl it under-arm. Walters stuck his foot down, the ball popped up and he smacked it over the boundary: in doing so demonstrating how NZ could have won the game.
    I saw Mark Waugh’s 138 on debut and Blewett’s 102 not out on debut too. I love watching blokes go out and take apart international bowling on their first go. It must give so much confidence. Funny how Hughes has looked out of his depth in Eng after handling Ntini and Steyn so well.

  7. Steve Waugh's last ball hundred against the Poms at the SCG rates as one of my best "seen it's". I was sitting in the O'Reilly amongst a mob of fifty or so Pom cricket tourists. As I like to score, they were often looking for details from the book, even scoring an over when I went for a slash.

    A Scot I was next to left five overs out saying "I'll be here and see him bring it up tomorrow" and left five overs out. I was even asked before the last ball where I thought he could go for the bourndary and correctly nominated cover point.

    Place erupted and the mnajority of the crowd stayed on cheering and chanting for an hour. Just brilliant.

    Saw the Scot the next day. He'd heard it in the taxi back to his digs. I made sure I rubbed it in.

    Also so Warnie's 300 well after stumps, under lights after a huge thunderstorm took out three hours play. That was with my eldest who was at his first Test match. Very cool day that.

  8. That’s a beautiful thing Lango, any dad who loves sport treasures sharing it with his child.
    I remember Sir Steve’s innings well and what a classic Waugh shot to bring it up: down on one leg and playing straight through the line. I also remember the next morning unfortunately. I wonder how many innings have not built after the overnight break – vs innings that have gone large.

  9. i wasn't thinking about the "being there" when i commented Lefty, of course you are right.

    Man i was such a S.Waugh fan; i think he alone broke the W.I aura that the team carried into the nineties.
    You are packing a big set to stare off with Ambrose!

  10. Sir Steve is my favourite Aus player of all time. He made gritty runs when we needed them the most and was an unfashionable player, unlike one of his brothers, which I admire. Any player who gets dropped and comes back better (Clarke, Hayden) gets my admiration. I must admit I think by the time Clarke retires he’ll come close to a favourite too. I love how he is so determined now and shows great discipline and patience. I’ve learnt a lot from him on batting: footwork in particular. I love facing spinners: getting down the pitch or rocking back and smacking it through point.

    Waugh did play a huge role in bringing us up to the West Indies. That was the time when Aus was all-conquering. I can’t wait to see Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Gayle this summer: although Adelaide is getting Pakistan.

    Of watching great performances Stoph, up there with the best was Gilchrist and Langer at Bellerieve against Pakistan. Talk about batting in partnership, I watched every ball. It was classic: talking to each other constantly, encouraging and keeping focussed. I wish my cricket club could learn that!

    On the side: Sri Lanka have beaten Pakistan in a series at home for the first time. Sangakkara batted all of the final day to save the final test. An interesting stat: Chaminda Vaas and Murali have 1119 wickets together compared with Sri Lanka’s 1488 from all other bowlers in their test playing history! I hope Sri Lanka get the opportunity to play more test cricket. Sanga remarked recently that it’s hard to improve when you play so few test matches. Vaas has retired by the way, a great career bowling pace on wickets unfriendly to pace for the most part.

  11. For me it is a toss up between Gower and Mark Waugh in form for pure grace and class. Both batsmen made it look so effortless when on song. The timing of both men was a thing to behold. It's no accident that they were both chastised for soft dismissals but that was the way they played. They were either on and flowing, or in the pavilion.
    For my life it would be the older Waugh but for pure entertainment it has to be Mark. The 170 odd he hit in a one day game was just sublime.
    I too saw the Sachin knock which was also superb. The sound when it struck the bat was tremendous but I also saw Sawag's knock the tour before when they were rebuilding the members and the sound when he belted them that day was awesome. Echoed for a hour almost.

  12. I'm the new boy here, but have you guys ever posted your all time best Aussie team?

    My favourite was Dougie. There were better bats about, even in his day but I guess because he was the star of my first Test, he always remained a hero. When I was involved in cricket admin in country NSW, I met him several times and he was a terrific bloke. Loved a beer ... yes; loved a smoke ... non stop; but loved a chat above all else. The brilliant thing was, he always remembered you.

    He isn't in my all time best team, although I note that Chappelli still says he would always be picked in his. Maybe I'm just stuck in the seventies! Met a lot of NSW players as an association secretary and because of media jobs and the best were always the guys who never forgot they were just blokes like the rest of us.

    Tugger was another in that group.

  13. we've had a few "greatest teams" Lango

    would love to see your thoughts on any/all of these.


  14. that was an experience when huuuge parts of the ground were open Nospmas.

  15. Stoph, some interesting concepts. I try and conjour up something.