Well, I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself; Madrid has a cricket club. And what’s more they’re recruiting for the up-coming season. After getting word of this most perplexing of cultural dislocations, I felt it was my patriotic duty to investigate. So I slipped into the closest thing to sports clothes I own these days and headed out for the MCC.
To tell you the truth, as well as being a little culturally curious, I was also quite looking forward to the chance to pursue an unfulfilled childhood dream; being good at sport. I mean, come on. I’m in Spain. Most of the people here haven’t even heard of cricket. I was fairly likely to dominate simply by being Australian. Okay, so back home I would struggle to be picked as twelfth man for the Tennant Creek East local derby against those pie-chuckers from West Tennant, but here in the land of football and nothing much else (except for one random guy who seems to be pretty good at tennis) I might as well be Michael Clarke. Except without the crazy fiancée. I had visions of me raising my bat to the dressing room after scoring a hundred on debut, or taking five for twelve including a hat trick.
If I had any brains at all I’d have realised that this is Madrid; one of the most multi-cultural cities in Europe. The Madrid Cricket Club consisted of a bunch of English guys getting together for a match a little closer to the backyard on Australia Day than the MCG on Boxing Day. There were also a large group of sub-continental guys chatting to each other in a language I couldn’t make out. I’d like to assume it was Tamil, Hindi or Urdu, but it might just as well have been Spanish. I’m really not getting anywhere with the whole local language thing. Possibly because I spend all my time at English teacher agencies and… cricket clubs.
Anyway, the pitch for our epic match consisted of a rubber mat laid out in the middle of a rugby field. It was only half of the standard 22 yards, but as long as we only bowled from one end and didn’t pitch too short, it worked alright. The bounce wasn’t exactly what you’d call predictable, but dealing with difficult conditions is part and parcel of being a professional sportsman in the modern era.
It won’t come as huge shock to anyone back in Australia, but, in fact, there were no great heroic sporting feats on my part. I’m still just as woeful with the bat as I always was. I wasn’t too bad with the ball, although I’d have been a darn sight better if I hadn’t had two catches dropped at mid on. To top it all off, I seem to have forgotten how to catch too, although thankfully this didn’t come up as an issue during the match.
Apparently there’s a Spanish twenty-twenty tournament coming up in April. Remarkably enough, some of the other large cities of Spain have cricket clubs as well. I’m definitely going to try out if I can manage my time-table. Some of the other club members were also talking about a tour of England, but something about that doesn’t sound quite right.
I mean, yeah, England suck, but surely it hasn’t come to this, has it?
Far from home
Michael Hussey … I mean … Garry with 2 Rs