I’m by no means a cricket aficionado, however I did gratefully accept a rare invitation to join Tourism Ireland to watch the Ireland vs Pakistan pool match during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 at The Adelaide Oval—from their corporate suite too.
I mean… who wouldn’t? The fact alone that I’m half Irish means that my Roscommon and Meath-based family would drown me in a vat of poitín had I declined.
The day turned out to be a thrill. Firstly, I crossed the River Torrens’ Riverbank Footbridge with a vibrant mix of smile-painted nationalities, flushing through like a healthy dose of colonic immigration. Arriving at the Fanzone on the oval’s Southern Plaza, I met with a group of Pakistani fans beating their drums, and an acrobat balancing upside down—on a fellow acrobat’s head! I’d witnessed similar shenanigans as a child, with the Irish side of my family during Guinness-fuelled nights in Castlerea pubs as I munched on Tayto crisps and hiccupped on red lemonade. So the day was sure to be good (to be sure!).
Guitar riffs from U2 peppered the intervals and over-changes. Ireland kept losing batsmen, but Porterfield soldiered on, reaching 85 by the 30th over. From our side of the boundary, ears and tongues were equally stimulated as spinach, kumara and cheese frittatas and pecan chocolate brownies were circulated.
At his dexterous century, Porterfield drew a standing ovation and eruptions of cheers from his Irish contingent. When he departed on 107 runs, Pakistan celebrated like it was a victory.
À la Carte dinner arrived to the corporate suite’s finely-dressed tables. Chinking to Annie’s Lane Clare Valley Riesling (I know!), a roulade of chicken with goats curd preceded a buffet of tastebud-firing dishes. I sampled both the roasted lamb noisettes with minted beans, and the grilled barramundi on polenta, of course, reserving a space for the mini gourmet cakes and macarons. Dinner conversation revolved around fearless John Mooney, who took a potentially dangerous cricket ball to the collarbone. He bravely took the pain, eventually brushing it off with an Aussie salute as if it were a bush fly. What a man!
Then Pakistan started batting and turning the screw. But nearing 8pm, at 22 overs, the Irish cheered at their first wicket, brilliantly caught by Thompson, who kept steady hands despite the crowd’s suspended breath resting on his shoulders as the ball fell from the sky.
On the 24th over, Pakistani captain, Misbah-ul-Haq ran himself out, knocking his stumps and sending the bails flying and flashing.
So sadly, Ireland didn’t walk away a winner. But the win for me was a deeper understanding of Aussie sporting religion, and a crash-course in cricketing lingo. I now know: 1) that the players don’t actually physically field in slips; 2) that you don’t need Wi-Fi for a googly; and 3) why they rub their balls!
Being appropriately educated in the terminology now, it’s thanks to Tourism Ireland from me for the opportunity, as cricket has certainly bowled this maiden over (I know, I’m sorry).
So good luck to Pakistan on Friday, when they bat it out with Australia. I’m not sure if either team need to be wished luck. Or perhaps they both do?