Voice of Real Australia: The good ole days: Backyard cricket and flying falsies

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Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

As was the case for most Aussie kids growing up in suburban Sydney in the 1980s, the hotter weather signaled the packing away of footy balls and boots in exchange for pads and gloves in preparation for an exciting summer of truly domestic cricket.

Those definitely were the days ... mates gathering at school yards after class to show off their batting and bowling prowess to earn bragging rights.

I remember the great pre-play debates: tennis or cricket ball; one or two hands for catches off the fence; auto wickie or real; and so on.

It was all great fun, specially if you managed to slog a couple of sixes, pull off a miraculous catch or run up a formidable partnership.

We were all wannabe David Boons and Allan Borders.

They were great days, which sadly the kids of today won't get to experience, due to the fact that all Sydney schools are now fenced off after hours ... a sad, but understandable fact of modern life.

Anyhow, back to the old days.

On the rare occasion we were kicked out of the school grounds, we'd simply relocate the game to the home of the kid with the biggest backyard, which again generally sparked another debate, as home ground advantage brought with it the right to dictate the revised rules of play.

It should be noted, this was at a time when granny flats were somewhat of a rarity, home extensions weren't the norm, and the developer-friendly "smart lots" of the 90s and 00s were still a drawing room concept.

Backyards were still family recreation spaces - a component of the great Aussie dream - where there was ample room for play, alongside the mighty Hills Hoist and above-ground pool.

My family home in Blacktown - a western suburb of Sydney - was equipped with all the right attributes. There was more than enough room for an adequate pitch; the bowler could take a reasonable run-up and fielding on the back fence could certainly be deemed the outfield.

It also took a bit of an effort to hit the ball well enough to score a four.

Needless to say, many a classic match was hosted there.

As the memories come flooding back to me, I really do feel sad for the younger generation, who again will miss out on this experience.

No backyard cricket here! Picture: Matt Lawrence

No backyard cricket here! Picture: Matt Lawrence

Most modern Aussie backyards are no longer fit for games of such scale.

The emergence of the above-mentioned granny flats, sub-divisions and the like, have effectively killed the backyard for a great deal of suburbia.

You might get away with a game of French cricket, but that's about it.

Surveying my immediate surrounds today, I estimate I would require the yards of my neighbours on all sides to be able to play a game like those of my youth.

I understand that we "old timers" have a way of painting golden images of our days gone by, but in this case I really do feel our young ones sadly don't know what they are missing.

Actually not only the young ones, but families in general. Many of my fondest family memories are of gatherings in backyards.

Which brings me to the flying falsies ...

I remember it like it was yesterday!

I was 12-years-old and it was a glorious sunny Saturday.

My nan and pa - mum's folks - had come over for lunch.

I'm not sure who had the idea, but it was decided a game of cricket would be the ideal way to help our lunches drop.

We set up the old aluminium bin at one end for the facing stumps and used the old brick barbecue as the other set.

I was facing and my nan was bowling.

Barney, our spritely lab-cross, joined mum, dad and pa in the field.

After a couple of well blocked deliveries, I managed to connect with a stray ball and hit it solidly in the direction of nan, perhaps a little to her left.

In a display of incredible reflexes, my nan quickly turned to meet the oncoming tennis ball with open hands to make the catch.

As she did, she threw her head fast in the direction of the ball, and with it, her false teeth, which went crashing into the barbecue.

To say it lessoned the blow of being caught out is an understatement.

The only thing that would have made it better, is if Barney had have beaten my nan to the barbecue to retrieve the teeth.

But alas, not to be.

To her credit, nan didn't miss a beat. She simply picked up the teeth, ran them under the tap and then popped them back in.

And if that weren't Aussie enough, she then declared it was her bat!

Yeah, those were great times ... bless the big backyard!

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