A Crumpet Always Falls Jam Side Down

The three weeks we spent back in the The Land Down Under in 2017 was all about living in Melbourne again; staying in Albert Park where I once rented a flat, walking down to the beach, catching the tram into the city, shopping at the South Melbourne Market, and being a tourist in the city where you live. On most days we caught the number 12 tram at the Mills and Herbert Street corner; just down the street from our single fronted, fashionable weatherboard Victorian Airbnb house. The stylish Miss Colombia Cafe was on the corner by the tram stop; it soon became our mid morning hanging out spot. Every morning we would order a flat white and watch out for the number 12 to go wobbling down Mills Street on it’s way to Fitzroy Street. By the second day we knew how long it would take between trams, and when they would return up Mills street on their way back to Collins Street and beyond; we gave our self two trams to finish our flat whites.

image source:jmcadam

Miss Colombia was everything a Melbourne cafe should be; friendly staff, good food and coffee, and a good neighbourhood vibe. It was a locals haunt; the communal tables were shared by mums with their preschool little ones, young and mature couples adorned with colourful tattoos, and hipsters with big glasses and bushranger beards. And it wasn’t just locals hanging out to drink coffee. Tradies were popping in to grab one of their favourite take away brekkie snacks; a flat white, and an order of smashed avocado with Persian Fetta and a couple of poached eggs on multi grain toast. It wasn’t uncommon to find a dog, or a couple of dogs, hitched to the parking permitted sign post on the footpath. By the second morning three of the staff new us, and we would have a bit of a chat; by the third morning they knew our coffee order. When I think back, I should have taken up a counter staff’s offer to swap print shirts; the Albert Park hipsters are having their milk textured, and their coffee needs satisfied by a John McAdam doppelganger barista.

image source:misscolombia.com.au

The Melbourne cafe is a coffee shop that also offers creative food. Two Hands opened in New York in 2014 and is one of several Australian owned cafes serving up versions of Melbourne’s avocado smashes in the Big Apple. Other Aussie cafes attracting a crowd include; Little Collins, Brunswick, Flinders Lane, Sweatshop Coffee, Hole in the Wall and Bluestone Lane. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Aussie flat whites and avocado smashes now have more than a foothold in New York. The chalkboard menus in Melbourne cafes will always have some type of avocado smash, french toast, smoked salmon, and a pulled pork bagel; and you always add a poached egg to whatever you order. I think the success of the cafes in the Big Apple isn’t because of the food or the coffee they serve, it’s because of the experience they offer. What if there was a Melbourne style cafe in every US city? Imagine being able to grab a smashed avocado with chilli, coriander, feta cheese and cherry tomatoes on seeded toast as well as experiencing that Aussie thing to start off your day.

image source:jmcadam

Experiencing a little bit of the The Land Down Under culture and tradition shouldn’t stop with the Melbourne cafe. Aussies love their seafood; nothing beats the standard order of a piece of flake and chips from the local fish ‘n chip shop. You can bet a penny to a quid when you’re at the local with a few mates for some good pub food a barramundi fillet will be ordered way before a peppered kangaroo fillet with seasonal greens; and there’s always a serious rivalry at the table to see who’ll grab the last salt and pepper calamari ring. Anytime you’re unwrapping a fish ‘n chip shop’s parcel of golden goodness you’ll be surrounded by family and friends telling the same old stories of yesteryear, or creating new stories for tomorrow. The seafood experience is an Aussie indulgence that all of the US should be allowed to enjoy. I’ve got no doubts that Aussie fish and chip shops would meet with the same success in the US as the Melbourne cafe did in New York; and there’s no need to build shops because it wouldn’t take much to add the The Land Down Under fish and chip shop vibe to Five Guys burger restaurants.

image source:jmcadam

The new style restaurants would

  • serve home made potato cakes that are dipped in batter just before being dropped in the deep fryer
  • only serve home made chips; frozen chips from a bag would be unacceptable
  • include a hamburger with the lot on the menu; has the options of beetroot, egg, and pineapple.
  • have walls decorated with Chiko Roll and ocean fish posters
  • offer fried and steamed dim sims that only come frozen and from a plastic bag
  • have a wide multi coloured plastic strip hanging in the front door to keep out the flies
  • keep pickle onions in a plastic jar on the tables with their price written on the side of the jar with a felt tip marker
  • provide salt and vinegar on the tables in recycled soft drink bottles with holes poked in their screw top cap
  • keep soft drinks in fridges with a sign on their door which says; please select before opening door
  • have retro 1980’s arcade machines with games such as Frogger, Centipede, or Ms Pac-Man

image source:tripadvisor

Each shop would have a handwritten chalk menu board above the cooking fryers. You’d stand at the counter and watch the fish and potato cakes being dipped in batter, thrown into a wire basket, and plunged into the hot bubbling oil in the fryer; chips would be added after a few minutes. The master fryer would know just when to raise the basket of golden goodness from the oil, and how to bump it on the edge of the fryer to drain just the right amount of hot oil from the golden chips, and crunchy fish and potato cake batter. The golden pile would be sprinkled with salt and wrapped in paper.

Just as you’ll find America’s national sport on every television screen in the US in summer you’ll find cricket on every television screen during an Aussie summer; it’s video white noise in every hotel bar, airport lounge, and home electronics shop. And there’ll be a TV alongside every barbie; so when you turn the snags and chops, or throw a bucket of king prawns on the grill, you won’t miss the last wicket to fall, or the last four slogged to the boundary. It makes a lot of sense to add a few cricket rules to baseball. World Series games would be world series; eleven countries currently have a national cricket team and compete in test cricket matches. And if the excitement of baseball isn’t enough already; it would be quadrupled because the run rate of a game would increase. Over three hundred runs is a good average runs total for a side batting first in a one day cricket international; imagine that in baseball. The average television audience for the ICC Cricket World Cup is 400 million. Around 1.5 billion people tuned in to watch the coverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015; now that would be some audience for a Doritos television commercial. I’d suggest the following cricket rules be introduced into baseball.

image source:jmcadam

  • each team plays one innings; an innings is limited to fifty overs
  • an over has six consecutive balls
  • each bowler can only bowl 10 overs; no bower can bowl consecutive overs
  • after a bowler delivers six balls they have completed an over so another team member must bowl the next over
  • after the batting team has lost ten wickets, or fifty overs has been played, the teams switch roles
  • after each team has batted for an innings the team with the most runs wins
  • batsman don’t have to run
  • batsman must wear their helmet, gloves, leg pads, thigh guard, arm guard, gloves, box, and carry their bat with them as they run between wickets
  • Each team has a twelfth man to use if a player is injured during a game

image source:jmcadam

What could be more Aussie than talking like an Aussie? Cricket has a language all of it’s own. Putting a little cricket into baseball would open a treasure trove of Aussie lingo to the average American; every day would be talk like an Aussie day. Forget about peppering your conversation with throw another shrimp on the barbie, and that’s not a knife; this is a knife. Start using any of these in your everyday conversations.

call it stumps: each of the three upright sticks or wickets during a cricket match. The stumps are pulled out of the ground when the cricket is finished for the day. Used to end or finish a task
carried the bat: a batsman who was able to play throughout the game and was not dismissed; a rare feat in test matches. Used to refer to a person doing an incredible job or task
easy wicket: a pitch of slow pace which favours the batsmen. Used in place of an easy task or a comfortable position in life
good innings: a player scored a lot of runs during a game. Used to refer to a long and fulfilling life or career
pearler: a very good delivery of the ball by a bowler. Used to describe something that is impressive or excellent
slog: means to hit the ball so hard that it reaches the boundary. Means to work very hard
sticky wicket: used to describe a damp and soft pitch which could make it extremely difficult to play on as the ball would be going anywhere. Used when a person is in trouble or faced with awkward circumstances

Tony Benneworth from the ABC Radio best summed it up with; it’s been a very slow and dull day, but it hasn’t been boring. It’s been a good, entertaining day’s cricket.

I think I’ll put on a pair UGG’s and sit out in the backyard in a full lotus position and start chanting the mantra; salad must be served with the meal. It would be good brain training for next time I’m at a restaurant and the salad is served before the food order is brought out.

 

Miss Colombia Cafe

Glossary of Cricket Terms and Sayings

Saltwater Grill; Fish and Chips takeaway

It’s just not Cricket

On April 10th 2015 the Australian newspaper headlines screamed that Australian Cricket great Richie Benaud was dead at age 84. He was the first cricketer to reach a Test double of 2,000 runs and 200 wickets and it is said by many that after Don Bradman no Australian cricket player is more famous than Richie Benaud.

Cricket is a game played between two teams of eleven players each. To win one team needs to score more runs than the other. Depending on the runs scored and the wickets taken a test cricket can be played over 5 days. In every cricket game there are two sides; one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!

Benaud blended deft leg spin bowling with artful batting prowess. He became Australia’s Test captain in 1958 and led the team until 1964. It must have been the 1956 ashes series in England, before Benaud was captain that I remember. The five tests were played June through August in a tepid English summer but a typical dank, chilly, Melbourne winter. On foggy winter nights, cocooned in woolen blankets at Peel Street, with the radio down low I was put to sleep by the erudite and snobbish descriptions of play and the mournful fog horns warning cargo ships of the close foreshore as they navigated the Yarra estuary.

England retained the Ashes winning two tests. Australia won one test and two were drawn. Jim Laker for England captured 19 wickets: 10 in the second innings of the 4th test at Old Trafford Manchester.

Benaud bowled 47 overs: 17 of those maidens and took 2 wickets for 123 runs.

1956 was a big sporting year for me: I remember a summer afternoon in November sitting in the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) watching track and field Olympic events. The 1956 Summer Olympics were the catalyst for the start of commercial television in Australia. The Olympics were broadcast as a test transmission. And that summer there was also the pick-up cricket games on the strand with Andrew Lambrainew, Ray Cowmeadow, Alwyn Robertson, my brother Peter, and sometimes Froggie Norton and Butch: in bowling we tried to master the googly, yorker, full toss, and leg cutter and when batting the silky skills of Bradman, Harvey, and Miller.

It was also around that time when I played in my only cricket game. One afternoon a week I would stay back after school for cricket practice. Alan Self and Ray Cowmeadow were always the captains of the 2 teams that were formed for the practice: Alan for his fast bowling prowess and Ray for his artful batting. I was never a captains pick and ended up with a couple of the other leftovers who were sent out to field the ball when either team batted. I never got to touch the ball or bat during practice but I often got to collect and carry in the wickets.

The historic day of my first and only cricket match was when North Williamstown Primary School was to play some other primary school. As well as the firsts team they had to field a seconds cricket team to play the leftovers from the other school. We played the game at what was left of the old historic Williamstown Racecourse.

I remember going into bat: the wind was blowing in from the nearby bay and the blue sky was filled with puffy white clouds. I know I didn’t take stance or center for the crease but just hit my shoe with the bat a few times. I do remember that we were not padded up. I don’t remember what ball it was and I don’t remember what shot I tried to play but runs were scored. I made a few more runs and was not out when the days play ended.

On that day I became the world’s greatest cricketer, a sporting legend, but still Alan Self and Ray Cowmeadow never picked me for one of the practice teams and every practice I went out to field the ball that never came to me. But deep down I knew that I was a cricket prodigy.

The grassy area on the Strand where we played end to end football, built bonfires an, pit ourselves in pick-up cricket games with Andrew, Ray Cowmeadow, Alwyn, Peter, and sometimes Froggie Norton and Butch is now a baseball field reserve.

Australia is the current 2015 Cricket World Cup Champions. Teams from England, South Africa, India, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, West Indies, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, and United Arab Emirates played 49 matches of one day international cricket in 14 different venues to decide the World Cup. Baseball World Series is a seven game playoff between the American League and National League pennant winners.

I suppose it makes sense for a baseball field reserve to be on the Strand.

In July 2015 Australia ventures to England defend the ashes after humiliating England in Australia winning five 5 tests to none. There are no more Jim Lakers in England but there is Mitch Johnson for Australia.

I still check the scores when ever Australia is playing in a test series.

“The slow-motion replay doesn’t show how fast the ball was really traveling.” Richie Benaud (1930-2015)

Rules of Cricket.

Cricket great Richie Benaud Dead

Sir Donald Bradman: The Don.