Australia Day

I put word out into the grapevine. Cricket on the beach at Prado this afternoon. Oui? Non? To my surprise and delight, the grapevine responded with a resounding affirmative. It took us a while to get there, but by four pm, we had the stumps in the sand and the first batsman at the crease – an Englishman. Australia opened the bowling; America stood at mid-off, muttering about similarities to baseball. Australia did not take kindly to such sledging, and set the record straight. After a few too many wides, England brought in a wicketkeeper. America drew sexual connotations from the phrase “d’you wanna to go wickie?”. Australia and England fell about laughing. France arrived in time for tea, without oranges, but with wine and biscuits. Though some decided to remain on the hill, they sent in some adventurous batsmen who embraced this Anglophone madness with considerable enthusiasm. Even Germany contributed to the tail with a batswoman who swung for sixes (and, luckily for passersby, missed most of them). We fished the occasional four out of the icy Mediterranean and stubbed our feet on the rocks at long-off; small children on roller blades unwittingly covered the slips; and little old men, mistaking the outfield for a footpath, asked, C’est le cricket? and looked speculatively at the sandy pitch. The sun called stumps around six, melting into the ocean and taking all the warmth with it.


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