Australia Day, our national day, is on the 26th January so for the next few weeks I am going to feature some posts focusing on the Australian way of life. If you have any questions about Australia, let me know.
Australia has been in the international press in recent weeks with headlines like:
The end of an era
The crumbling of an empire
The last rites, and
A test of faith in land of tragics.
And yes, it really was.
Except, it had nothing to do with the media waxing lyrical about the end of the world as we know it. And everything to do with the lackluster performance of our National Cricket Team.
You see Australia was just one loss away from giving up its official number one ranking to South Africa following a series loss for the first time.
It was not only a near national calamity but it had all the earmarks of being a terminal catastrophe.
For those of you who don’t have a clue what cricket is, it’s a summer sport. A game. With bats and balls. Look here if you happen to be bored, lonely, have a penchant for watching grass grow or come equipped with a Y chromosome.
This series of games saw men weeping into their beers, with one hand on their hearts and the other making all sorts of strange sign language at the TV. They could taste defeat and rather than wait it out many chose to dive deep in the throes of an early mourning. So much so, that I half expected to see them parading around in unadorned black clothing before the series was even over.
For many Aussie blokes their world stopped for a few days. Simply because they couldn't take their eyes off the TV screen or their mind off the pending national humiliation.
It was painful and pitiful to observe. In fact, it was more than that.
It was P - A - T - H - E - T - I - C! At one point I had the idea of setting up some kind of intravenous beer contraption to save the poor souls from having to lift a can, bottle or glass to their mouths. I figured that they needed all their strength to cope with the grieving period which was soon to follow. All loss is painful. Even if it does happen to involve grieving over a game of bat and ball!!!
Australians, on the whole, are sports mad. It comes with the wide open spaces and the warm weather. And cricket is just one of the many sports we are obsessed with. We are joined in our cricket obsession by people living in England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies. Ugich Konitari , a wonderful blogger, has written many fantastic posts about cricket in India.
As long ago as 1859 an English guidebook to Australia reported that "the mania for bats and balls in the broiling sun … exceeds all rational excitements". And it’s still the case.
For me, the most taxing part of cricket is trying to understand the meaning of the 300 or so ridiculous terms which describe the game. If you read them you would swear the game was played by maidens who wore slips, had a handicap and who possessed both a short and long leg.
Thankfully........just the taste of defeat was enough to unite the nation.
It seems that the collective chest thumping, screaming at the TV and all round general moaning must have rallied the team. Right at the last minute. To win the final game of the series. By a hair's breadth.
It's said that in times of economic uncertainty, we can count on two certainties. People seek greater solace in their sport and the sales of lipstick increases substantially.
Given the Aussies in my life seem to already play, watch and talk sport 24/7, it's not going to get any better is it? I guess this just means that during the long days of winter sports, followed by the even longer days of summer sports, I may just have to disappear every now and then to buy myself a new shade of lipstick.
So tell me does sport have much meaning in your life or to those close around you? How do you cope?
Some Aussie blogs to visit are Dee from Aussie Antics who has a great post about Vegemite and Le at Third on the Right who has a post about Australia Day. More Aussie bloggers will be featured in comings posts. And Braja, do Aussies in India make pavlova on Australia Day too?
UPDATE: I've also decided to have a SECRET AUSSIE GIVEWAY (promise, no spiders) to be drawn on Australia Day. The pack will contain mementos of Australia based on each of this month's posts (and yes, our cricket team will most definitely be included in the pack, sorry). Anyone who leaves a comment on my posts from January 11 -25 will be entered into the draw.