The diary entry is pretty blasé about this momentous day:
Went to test match. Mostly rained off etc. V good what we saw (Graham and I).
I’m pretty sure this was my first ever day at the test. But it seems that I was so laid back in those days, perhaps my first one entirely passed me by.
Graham Majin and I had spent a great deal of that summer together making our second animated film, Speare Trek. More on Speare Trek will appear on Ogblog in the fullness of time. (Including a link to the film once I work out a way of digitally patching it back together again). We’d finished filming earlier in August and I think (reading between the lines of the diary) the last of the rushes had returned to us from the processing lab earlier in the week of this test. Younger readers will need a glossary and a book on the history of film to understand what on earth I’m on about.
Anyway, one of Graham’s uncles was a journalist who tended to be given test match tickets for the Oval. A pair of hot test tickets for the Saturday filtered down to us.
The only problem that day was the rain. Lots of it. I suspect we got about an hour of cricket the whole day – here’s the scorecard.
I have a few good memories of the day. I remember the Australian players wandering around and chatting to the few hardy souls (which included me and Graham) who stuck around in the hope of cricket.
The Aussies had been beaten up in the test series (they were an insurmountable 3-0 down before this test started). They were also, unbeknown to us, riven by the Kerry Packer business, news of which was soon to break. Yet still they did their bit for the attendees. Respect.
I especially remember Kim Hughes as part of that wandering, sociable pack; I also remember some young women, near us, drooling over Hughes. Graham and I wondered what he had that we lacked.
Despite our extreme youth, the crowd-deprived bar folk of the Oval seemed only too happy to serve us beer. Thems was different times. I do not recommend that 14/15 year old readers try to emulate our behaviour.
But the central character of the day was Bob Willis. Renowned as a terrible batsman (he famously once went out to bat without a bat), he scored 24 not out in this innings, almost his personal best. After the innings break, he then took a wicket before stumps were drawn.
Graham and I still had beers in our hands when stumps were drawn and certainly weren’t inclined to drink quickly or rush away from the ground, so we stuck around a while before wandering down to the Oval tube station.
When we got down to that southbound platform, there, with his cricket coffin, was Bob Willis. We asked him where he was going. Bob explained that he had friends in Streatham and was going to stay with them for the Sunday – a rest day back then.
I don’t remember where the conversation went after that, nor indeed exactly how we all went our separate ways, each to subtly different parts of Streatham.
Graham might remember, but I doubt it. Bob’s even less likely to remember.
Meanwhile, that sighting of Bob Willis on the underground has gone down in King Cricket/Cricket Badger folk lore as the very pinnacle of “cricketer spotted” activity – click here for recent (at the time of writing) validation – an accolade indeed.