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Riverview’s Fiefdom Defended Against Coming Of The Kings (Blue Poles, Stubborn Tomatoes and Howling Carpets; A Rhyme For The Times)

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Reporter emerges from Motorway

St Ignatius College, Riverview vs. The King’s School; AAGPS (NSW) 1st XV Rugby, Round 4; Riverview No. 1; 28/05/2016

“The hosting team are lead through a tunnel of students by (in this order) a multi-rotor drone, a large flag bearing the Riverview emblem, the drummer, and finally a student wearing a discarded floor rug with teeth that it takes some deduction to realise is supposed to be a wolf costume.”

Report by Scott Gittoes

Exiting the M2 Motorway into Lane Cove is like stepping from a blizzard into a warm log cabin. The terror of Sydney’s arterial road network – a Jackson Pollack of multi-lane, eye-twitching anxiety – is now but the pillow-sweat of a bad dream from this bosom of expansive, rolling-lawn affluence.  From here, the car itself seems to sigh and ease into a sort of mechanical canter as it moves along an ever descending ridge into the immaculately hedge-rowed suburb of Riverview, a horseshoe shaped enclave carved in the east and west by wooded creeks that flow to two sparkling boat-loaded bays of the Lane Cove River.  It’s one gingerbread house away from a nursery-rhyme.  At the horseshoe’s southernmost tip, behind sandstone pillars on a landholding that would make a feudal lord flinch, lies St Ignatius College, best known by the name of the suburb in which its not insubstantial acres reside.

Today Riverview is hosting rugby fixtures against The King’s School and with respective first fifteen sides both undefeated, the afternoon’s final fixture has a big red ring around it for those closely following the premiership.

A bass drum thunders through suburban avenues, washing out the avian cries and the whisper of wind-swept leaves. The repeated boom beckons your correspondent and all those about him, lemming-like, downhill.  Riverview’s terrain (and not just the school but the suburb itself) sinks into a green basin that is the main oval of today’s contest. The first breaths of winter have recently brought rains and with tag-shoed feet churning the moist topsoil since the dew-sweeping slog-outs of the early AM, the oval has come to resemble a dill pickle slice, dark green on the fringes graduating to a paler, yellowing centre. The ellipse is divided in two; a rugby field closest to the western hill that rises up and under the university-scale campus buildings, and a soccer field to the east.  Into the hillside is set a concrete-block structure roughly 15 metres square; canteen and change rooms.  Recessed into the base of this building is an eight-row grandstand. White-shirted, dark blue-blazered students are crammed in there like rows of teeth set into a jaw.  As the showpiece game approaches, they spill out either side onto the wet grass like thickening strands of spittle, roaring in unison when prompted.  Teachers hover like anxious birds waiting to pick the gums of a yawning crocodile.

When Riverview’s first fifteen do appear, silence descends. They all but float down the hill on the autumnal breeze, between old gum trees, glimpsed but largely out of sight, before truly disappearing again into the change rooms behind the grandstand.  The student supporters promptly organise themselves for the send-out.  If one were in any doubt as to the coveted nature of the bass drummer role, maker of that near subconscious murmur that hitherto has themed the pre-game titillation, it becomes plain enough when the instrument is given to he who is preordained to thump its belly for the main game. The hand-over ceremony has all the quiet grandeur and gravity of a father receiving a blood- and placenta-speckled first-born.

The hosting team are lead through a tunnel of students by (in this order) a multi-rotor drone, a large flag bearing the Riverview emblem, the drummer, and finally a student wearing a discarded floor rug with teeth that it takes some deduction to realise is supposed to be a wolf costume. The visitors’ fifteen are released through a tunnel that is equally long but much leaner on fanfare.  Playing strips are identical but for the varied shade of blue hoop on guernsey and sock. It’s all and only white and Oxbridge blues out there.

In the opening stage of sporting contests there’s a ghostly uncertainty that stirs somewhere inside most participants. In rugby, it’s present in those moments when the players, technically ‘playing’ but as yet awaiting first contact with pill or opponent – milling with clean uniforms on the fringes of rucks or basking in the backline breeze – find themselves unable to express their excitement, a little lost, and generally jittery. Some players get yappy, others jump up and down or rub their hands together. Some go quiet. The scientific name for this condition is nerves. Transitioning fully into a game is, funnily enough, where evenly matched contests can be won or lost, and today this phenomenon appears to be up for proving.  Within three minutes, the visitors are on the receiving end of tries in either corner.  The first is a mercurial kick and recover individual effort from Riverview’s right winger.  The second germinates from some fundamental drawing and passing that creates space for a left wing who knows what to do with all that daylight and has the jets to act on his impulses.  To steal a military phrase – and with all that bass drumming and bellicose war-crying it’s surely not out of place – Riverview has seized the initiative.

Following those first ten unconverted points, in what proves to be a consistent theme throughout the remainder of the fixture, the team conceding a try immediately goes on the offensive. It’s as though the players are expecting an even contest and are intent on honouring the script.  King’s set up camp for a prolonged period inside Riverview’s quarter and leave with three points. Were it not for repeated infringements – albeit not repetitive enough for today’s official to reach for something yellow – King’s may have ended this stretch of honest toil with more.  As it is, the score remains locked at 10 – 3 and will remain so for all but the last dying minutes of the half.

Some patterns have emerged. Firstly, it’s evident that the backlines are willing to play expansively, but their skill in execution, primarily passing, is not in step with their plans.  Passes are lofted and frequently terminate below or behind the man.  Perhaps it’s the greasy pill.  Secondly, and possibly in support of the greasy pill theory (hereafter, the GPT), expansive forays are far outnumbered by hard, welfare-be-damned running at the advantage line, principally executed by hulking lock forwards and two fearless, fast moving inside centres, all of whom latch onto halve-fed shortballs with a bloodlust for metres.  Last, and by no means least (and approaching absolute proof of the GPT), the offensive commitment at the gainline is similarly matched in defence and it’s here that the (greasy) pill pops out regularly in all directions like a cherry tomato under force of a blunt fork.  And so it is that the teams spend the best part of the rest of the half trading blows in this fashion, mostly in neutral territory.  That is until the visitors’ rangy fullback, who’s shown flashes of his deceptive speed – long legs taking slow-cadenced but yard-devouring strides – swoops on loose ruck ball to run untouched to the line for seven equalling points.

The twilight of a rugby game’s first half is another one of those ghostly periods in which things can – and often do – go haywire. Here the nerves are a problem in reverse; certain players shelve the excitement one or two plays early, assured of a job more-or-less done. It’s as dangerous, if not more, than those opening minutes. And it’s just as often here, in these fatigue-filled final seconds, that tight games turn.  Indeed, in what proves to be the last play of the half, Riverview smell complacency and dump a heap of coal on the furnace. They get seven points for cunning, their right wing collecting a brace.

At halftime, relatives and alumni compare notes. They’re scattered across the western hill, donning oilskins or brandname outdoorsman jackets.  Most wear caps.  Behind them, ten or so men busy themselves on the grills.  In the canteen, women serve the sweet stuff.  And over on the eastern touchline, squinting into the lowhanging sun, middle-to-late aged old-boys talk commerce, mostly finance and real estate, or trade stories on their sons’ achievements.  And when play resumes, they’re not afraid to wear their old-school-allegiances on their sleeves, boisterous but reverent.

Much of the second half proceeds like the first. That is, repeated one or two-off kamikazes at the gainline that end in audible collisions or else mistimed ball movement when it does go wide.  In either case, the GPT is in full articulation and the ball develops a near-monogamous intimacy with the grass.  Riverview’s flyhalf squanders a couple of opportunities to extend the lead off the tee (he ends the game with 2 from 7 attempts).  Conversely, King’s take the only three points that are really on offer for them, their halfback knocking it over from forty metres to bring the visitors within four points and give them a sniff.  But it’s not to last.  The hosts shun a very kickable penalty, opting instead for the line, and one wonders whether it’s a decision born of genuine confidence or a kicker with an ever-worsening case of the yips.  The hypothetical proves moot.  Riverview apply more pressure, steal a defensive lineout a few plays later and cross for a try that is converted by the barest of margins.  In step with the game’s theme, King’s are instantly and intensely on the attack. They do enough to cross the line but fumble the ball just before the vinegar stroke. Riverview close out a deserved victory and take their place unaccompanied and undefeated at the top of the table after four rounds.

As triumphant drumbeats hark across a picturesque pocket of Sydney, your correspondent takes a deep breath and ascends into the harrowing truth of abstract impressionism.

Match Day Burger Rating: 6/10

MDB Service Atmosphere: 6/10

MDB Cost: $8.00

Match Result: Riverview 24 def. The King’s School 13

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Brother Francis Bears Witness As Maxi-Pads Supersoak Marist College’s Cotton Curse

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Marist College Ashgrove vs. Padua College; AIC 1st XV Rugby, Round 3; Brother Francis McMahon Oval; 14/5/2016

“From the moment the visitors began their warm up on the field’s far side – tackle bags wheezing and whistling like emphysema-riddled geriatrics escaping house fires – it was pretty clear that they were a bunch of butchers ready to do unspeakable things to whatever flesh they got their steel-gloved mitts on.”

Report by Nicholas Turner

The annals of bonehead sporting plays are a long and sordid record, and it is the quiet desire of all competitors to go undocumented therein. Sport is a contest first, but it’s also a performance, sometimes even a spectacle, and an unforced failure will make the most seasoned competitor wish she was water for the turf to drink up and vanquish forever. And if there is a stage more intimate and personal than schoolboy competition, your correspondent considers it rare indeed. Indeed, the Padua College 1st XV’s burly hooker is not the first player to upend a defenceless receiver in the echo of a rugby game’s opening whistle. He’s not the first to have a fixture brought to an affected halt before the pill has so much as kissed the grass. But as he waddles head-in-hands to the sideline, there’s little doubting he feels like an original kind of idiot.

In the context of a game here that matters mucho to his team and the thousand or so supporters that have travelled across the city to see them battle the spiritual giants of Marist College Ashgrove, to call this an ‘unfortunate brain-explosion’ would be seriously underselling it. Even for a dispassionate observer with a notepad and pen, the compelling hypothetical thrown up by the team sheets and history books for today’s contest between table-topping AIC teams seems to lose its titillating hiss and unveil an awkward silence, like a Webber that someone forgot to replace the gas-bottle for before a long weekend away.

For one, the home side of Ashgrove are not a team that requires extra confidence. At the beginning of the third round of the AIC 1st XV competition they have scored 136 points and conceded zero. Nor does any opponent especially want to kick the rather magnificent hive of destiny that is their history of success. In the sixteen years of the refined, eight-team AIC competition, Ashgrove have won ten premierships, seven of which were outright and undefeated. It has finished the race worse than second only twice, and never finished outside fourth. And nor, finally, does one wish to give them a special invitation to put on an exhibition for a big home crowd that isn’t used to concession speeches. Indeed, something self-fulfilling really does seem to be happening when after a few minutes of firing a potent-looking backline at a reeling defence that stumbles backward, helpless, the Ashgrove boys claim a seven pointer that looks, well, ominous.

You never in your life saw a sixteen year old boy who wished more that he was made of the kind of matter that could evaporate. The hooker’s ten minutes in the sinbin looks like it might get eternal.

It’s a cool twenty-two degrees, cloudless and crisp, one of those pseudo-wintery Brisbane days where it’s so nice in the stands that you could literally watch the grass grow. And Ashgrove’s home turf is a beauty. Beset on a sunny crest in the suburban north-west, its immediate surrounds describe a Neenish tart of tranquil Catholic school grounds abounding in pointy buildings and monuments, and a charmed neighbourhood of trees and stilted cottages lined up like dominoes. The playing surface’s fine, short-grassed ellipse of tree-snake green appears so rich and healthy it looks like the field is silently breathing. The western grandstand is teeming with mums and dads and boys in uniforms distracted by girls not in uniforms. While to the east two opposing wolf-packs of old-boys in thongs observe a cautious truce on either side of a picturesque scoreboard. Plenty of blazered schoolboys are scoffing down the output of a well oiled canteen production-line the way only teenage boys can scoff. Those non-uniformed girls try not to look disgusted.

The field is encircled by sinuous driveways across which C-Class’s and SUVs pump boys in and out of the place on a busy Saturday afternoon of hosting sport. But no doubt the more dramatic way to approach and appreciate the real estate here is to make the back-door pilgrimage from Enoggera Creek, compelled up a steep goat track and across a dramatic giant’s-footprint of a second field by the haunting vision of a bone-white 1930s seminary hanging in the clouds. One gets to feel the air as it thins.

As ten agonising minutes end for the banished hooker and he begins again to stalk the sidelines, the seven point deficit offers relative mercy to his shame. He soon gets right down to business, putting the blunt finishing touches on an utter scrum dominance that even a seven-man forward pack had begun imposing on the leaner Ashgrove frontline. As yet unmentioned, and absolutely crucial to understanding how today’s contest unfolds, is the almost exhaustive physical superiority of the leviathan Padua forwards; from the moment the visitors began their warm up on the field’s far side – tackle bags wheezing and whistling like emphysema-riddled geriatrics escaping house fires – it was pretty clear that they were a bunch of butchers ready to do unspeakable things to whatever flesh they got their steel-gloved mitts on. And without exactly needing to put eyeholes in your newspaper and sit inconspicuously to grasp the hubbub, one was aware long before the whistle that any spare spiritual currency among the Ashgrove supporters was paying for prayers that Padua didn’t really know how to manage all that heft.

And this small but critical bit of psychological second-guessing is why the hooker’s madness in the game’s opening moments almost blew the whole ambush that his team had conceived for their opponents. Because one has the distinct sense that Padua’s plan was to come out firebombing villages before their enemies could so much as get out of bed, and now there’s a thumb-twiddling sense of having to sit back and wait for a trooper that’s fallen out of line. And you just know that up here on Ashgrove’s thin-aired patch of paradise the home side aren’t going to sit around waiting to be incinerated once they’re wide awake.

No, sir. Instead the Ashgrove team down a heady elixir of their own favouritism and gravitas and bolt out with pitchforks. Their halves play like a pair of old friends that can call a three phase move with a wink. And the uphill task of stealing a win up here on the toughest roadtrip in the comp gets significantly graver for Padua.

When a full thirty boys are back on the park the game hits its stride, and spectator asses separate from seats. Big hits go off hither and thither like landmines. Padua’s towering forwards go straight for the stubborn, outsized Ashgrove defenders who, desperately protecting an expectation of success, punish any high running with ball-and-all tacking that more often than not earns them scrum feeds. Which scrums, unfortunately, turn out to be not much of a victory for them because they’re basically a hockey puck going one direction and Padua might as well just put out their hands and be given free kicks directly.

While the contest remains dogged and compelling all afternoon, pure rugby’s flow-chart of virtuous play is in a state of systematic frustration. Ashgrove simply can’t win a set piece, and their much-touted backline barely sees the clean ball they so very much need to rack up points. On the other hand, Padua for all their power up front don’t seem to have a line out, so while they charge up the field through scrum penalties, more often than not they relinquish the advantage anyway.

Scattered running rugby punctuates all this but is frankly at a high premium. Ashgrove’s fly-half is a talent that requires a maximum-security prisoner’s attention round the clock, while Padua’s fullback makes two individual efforts that ought bookend any decent highlight reel of the match. Throughout passages of broken play, both teams tempt the sidelines, the torch passing again and again to eager, fleet-footed runners. Desperate defence scrambles, and the one try that does come on the flanks is belatedly disallowed to the bemusement of everyone but the touch judge. Even the scoreboard has to be wound back.

At the twenty minute mark Padua level the scores in a surge at the line that puts the game back in parity where it at very least belongs. In fact, Padua’s rugby is proving simply better. Their size has well and truly been legitimised and their battery life looks good. Ashgrove’s backs have bugger all chances to throw their much talked-up smoke around. And the best the home side have come up with for the scrums is to make them a lottery; the hooker swings the heel to the effect of a sort of pinball machine from which the pill could emerge just about anywhere. The odds of winning from the feed move back to even, which is indeed a solution of a kind.

But if the interest of the game has an epicentre now it is the question of Padua’s mettle and nerve. Their suitability to victory. Because if the visitors really are still underdogs it is not for reasons of rugby merit. Though here at the centre-stage of schoolboy rah-rah there is always some kind of meddler that ain’t on any team-sheet or game-day program, so as the half-time whistle looms Padua find themselves mystically on the back foot again. Ashgrove marches toward the line through short, tide-defying runs, taking the field piece by piece until a single human effort is enough to cross. And then suddenly, like a bolt of lightning on the clearest of days, a pair of legs involuntarily breech from the smouldering bodies, and the trilling of the referee’s whistle signals more trouble for Padua.

The net result is three conceded points and another forward in the bin for ten. But what’s perhaps most cruel, and most telling of the histrionics that engulf all aspects of this occasion, is the way this feels among the Padua supporters. Kind of necessary, or foretold. Like old Sisyphus watching the boulder roll back down the hill again.  The colour of the half time atmosphere is uncommitted, barely off-white. Despite everything they’ve already shown, the second half finds Padua at ground zero, burdened with the luggage of their own ill-discipline, and with everything and more left to do.

Yet to their undeniable credit they emerge unflustered and intent. Their first milestone is to keep Ashgrove scoreless during the manpower disadvantage. Which they do. The next is to find some points. To this end they launch an unbroken sequence of forward assaults that rock defenders one after another, the pick of the ball-carriers a brutal tighthead with all the hallmarks of a mobile, modern front-rower. One suddenly realises that Padua has been overly loyal to the underdog’s uniform, constricted by its no-longer-suitable cut. Now, in their most explosive phase of the afternoon, which culminates in a try, the whole heavy outfit drops off like an old skin and they play freely and very much like the superior side they are today. More points are certainly coming.

In a last bid at hoodoo, at the height of his side’s capitulation the Ashgrove flyhalf emerges from the sideline and shuffles eerily back into position. Unrecognisable following the rearrangement of something on his face, he is all blood and eyes and white bandages now, like some sort of life-sized cotton bud that’s just been drawn from a horrific wound. This blinking, running, run-calling horror – half athlete, half surgical-aid – seems for a moment like a kind of imp that’s come to put one more curse on the visitors’ improbable campaign. But by then the Padua boys have decided to deal only in material things. A superb run from their fullback to beat three if not four bemused defenders puts the game beyond a score and the visitors in a position to win that it seems they only now have permitted themselves to really occupy.

And not long after that an age-old rock finds a place to rest up there in the hills of Ashgrove. Scenes ensue.

MDB: untested

Match Result: Padua College 19 def Marist College Ashgrove 17

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THE THICK WHITE LINE – The Problem With Miss Perry

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What do an embarrassing Channel Nine interview and some grubby internet comments say about the chances of women playing cricket on our TVs?

“Those who witnessed the mildly controversial Cricket Show interview with Perry and her teammate Meg Lanning in December past will have been reminded of just how rigidly TV tells its story, and may have been forced to acknowledge that TV cricket, as a narrative, is squarely a boy’s perspective.”

By Nicholas Turner

There’s a couple of great photos in circulation of Australian Women’s cricket player Ellyse Perry wearing the baggy green. The photos are really close-up, and in both shots Perry is pinching the brim of her cap, and she’s smiling, and her nose is smothered with zinc and her lips are sprinkled with the cracked shards of white where more zinc used to be. In one of the photos, Perry is still a teenager, a fraction puffier, and wearing a retainer whose thin metal wire dissects her already-pretty-straight-looking teeth horizontally. In the other, taken just a month ago, she’s that little bit less a kid.

There is something about these images that’s oddly moving. One part of it, naturally, is that Perry has the kind of face that is so uncontroversial, wholesome and downright healthy that it’s hard to imagine someone not warming to it right away. It’s the kind of face you’d put on the Surf Life-Saving tin on a fundraising day. The other part is the fact that she’s wearing one of this country’s most recognisable and rare uniform items with a stirring look of both joy and content.

That she is a girl, in these images, wearing that uniform, is neither novel nor oxymoronic. Indeed, her apparent, unashamed ‘pleasure’ in the baggy green (read: an unguarded sense of the fortune of being good and lucky enough to wear it) is something many might consider an example, especially on occasion when members of our national male team succumb to what seems like all-too-frequent entitlement and prima donnaism that may or may not be a bi-product of being incredibly famous and playing for lots of money from a young age.

Indeed, in these photographs Ellyse Perry’s rise to cricketing stardom seems not only easy to fathom but also both compelling and potentially revelatory. But as we all know, photography is not the principal media of cricket. Television tells us how cricket is.

Those who witnessed the mildly controversial Cricket Show interview with Perry and her teammate Meg Lanning in December past will have been reminded of just how rigidly TV tells its story, and may have been forced to acknowledge that TV cricket, as a narrative, is squarely a boy’s perspective. Much of the tut-tutting from the print media opinion-makers and the cheap seats at home decried sexism on the part of the interviewers. Which, inside or out of cricket, was pretty damn obvious. Indeed, subjecting two professional female athletes to the kind of condescending interview usually reserved for the ones they do at half-time of AFL games with the 5-years-old kids from the Auskick program, is pure crock. And, if you permit that this contributes to the broader cultural struggle, indeed this was a tiny but telling polyp on the sinuous tract to/of equality.

More significantly and more definitively, however, the interview testified to just how difficult equal treatment of women will be for this particular televised product. For cricket on the TV. In other words, the ceiling that really matters here is not so much glass as it is these days LCD and highly pixelated.

TV cricket is quite literally a boy’s story. And an elite, closed fraternity of boys at that. We watch a crop of young men through the commentary of men who used to be them. The cameras themselves – the actual eyes of the game – remind us endlessly of our point of view. Females have traditionally received only two types of substantial attention by cricket’s TV lens; one, in the form of the wives and girlfriends (WAGS) of the national team, predominantly good-lookers, all heavy make-up and wrap-around sunglasses gabbling outside the corporate boxes of the MCG, sometimes holding babies, occasionally interviewed on how hard or else wonderful it is to live with a professional cricketer, and; two, the healthily endowed young blondes of the cricketing crowd, the pursuit of gratuitous close-ups of which Channel 9’s telescopically endowed cameramen consider to be the side-show to any slow day of test cricket. Tasty, time-filling treats for the real cricket fan’s wandering eye. Apparently.

Whether chicken or egg, it’s an attitude that is reflected in the cricket audience. Cricket fans bemoan anything that threatens the blokeishness (which, tellingly, is near-synonymously referred to as the relateability) of modern players. We’re sceptical of even the slightest perceived androgyny – sometimes going by the name ‘metrosexuality’ – in players the like of Michael Clarke. Sentimentally preferred are the unselfconsciously portly Boon, the salt-of-the-earth Hussey, the hairy-forearmed Ponting. It’s probably worth remembering at this point that Mitchell Johnson began his career on the fringes of national team selection with a tongue and labret piercing. And today, as a staple and the veritable poster-child of Australian cricket’s resurgent ‘spirit’ of merciless, confrontational, manly competitiveness, he has replaced both silver appendages with a rugged handlebar moustache.

That’s part of what this ‘gentleman’s game’ thing is all about.

TV’s version of cricket is indeed a narrative, and almost all narratives offer definitions of virtue. Dignity, bravery, ruthlessness, stoicism, intelligence, selflessness, honesty; these are the things to which the cameras and commentary point as both the hallmarks of a good cricketer and a good man. We are shown, too, what women are in this particular world; eye-catchers, mothers, loyal support crews. The sport itself, at least the televised, professional side of it, has been so codified and regulated, so programmed in terms of what is meaningful and valuable, that watching it on TV (for a man at least) is the ultimate lazy indulgence, a truly idle exercise; it requires next to nothing in the way of critical thinking. And so, logically, it seems that nothing truly new or upsetting could possibly happen here. It is in this context that the notion of a girl in Australian sport’s coronial cap is less offensive than it is a kind of parody, which is surely the less permeable attitude.

Indeed, Miss Perry in the baggy green, all zero make-up and hinted freckles and sagging blonde locks and utterly non-suggestive expression, is a square peg in the round hole of TV’s telling of cricket. One can hardly be surprised that as her value as a cricketer has been forced onto the public through non-TV means (namely, with the ‘Everybody is so busy watching men’s cricket…’ meme, and its infamous stream of comments), those unable to shake the value-system of TV cricket have deflected Perry’s aspirations as a matter of sheer principle, reducing her (in that particular case) to the base order of internet fodder. And the basest thing that any screen-separated viewer can say about Ellyse Perry is that she’s a healthy young woman that by all reasonable assessment has the biological setup to bear children, etc.

So indeed, for anyone who’d taken so much as a few moments to think about the whole psychological planet of TV cricket coverage, six minutes of prime, unscripted air-time with The Michaels – the excitably ditzy Slater, the dicky pseudo-controversialist Vaughn – and two attractive, young female ‘parodists’ of the sport and mindset that has defined the lives and fed the children of those two TV approved and sanctioned narrators, would have seemed like a slow, gruesome train-wreck from way off. That we only had to watch Slater continually refer to Perry and Lanning as ‘lady cricketers’ (like a croquet-dabbling sewing circle from the 1920s), condescendingly encourage these consummate professionals on their ‘improving skills,’ refer endlessly back to the recent success of the men’s team and inquire as to how the ‘ladies’ might attempt to emulate it, laugh-off the mere possibility of female competitive spirit by making the universal ‘catfight’ gesture at its suggestion, and without so much as a palatable segue throw to footage of both girls in bathing suits, was probably a merciful result from an sexual politics point of view, all reasonable possibilities duly considered.

THE THICK WHITE LINE is Match Day Burger’s occasional amblings on the ‘big, bad leagues’ – which is to say, professional sport. If you enjoy what we do here at MDB, please become a ‘follower’. 

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