There were times last night when I wasn’t sure if I was watching a game of cricket or the Jim Rose Circus.
Some of the contortions going on in the middle of the Adelaide Oval were reminiscent of the guy who can thread his body through a tennis racquet.
Like this — can I even call it a shot? — from Glenn Maxwell.
Search any cricket manual on the planet, you won’t find this.
It’s what I imagine I look like when I’m doing battle with a Huntsman armed only with a full can of Mortein. I don’t want to get any closer than I need to, I certainly don’t want to look at it but the spider has to die or it’ll tap dance on my face while I’m sleeping.
It’s a shot that defies description, though the man himself gave it a crack.
At any rate, you can’t teach this kind of stroke play. Which is probably a good thing.
While the scoreboard says Australia had an easy win over Pakistan in the World Cup quarter finals, there was a point last night when our fortunes rested on the combined shoulders of Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson. Which is not where you want to be at the pointy end of the tournament.
That kind of viewing should really come with a health warning. Like: “This partnership may provoke television vandalism, more than occasional course language and an increased likelihood of aneurism. Channel Nine advises extreme caution.”
Fortunately, by the time these two came together, after a typically classy innings from Steve Smith, Australia was out of the deep, deep schtum we could’ve been in had Watto’s top edge to fine leg found a safe pair of hands.
Watto’s innings was really painful to watch. Right up there with a triple header of Titanic, Pearl Harbour and Frozen. No exaggeration.
You see, Watto thought it was a good idea to sledge Wahab Riaz during Pakistan’s innings. “Are you holding a bat?” he asked the Pakistani fast bowler. Not the kind of thing you say when you’re looking for a bit of form yourself.
Those five words could have cost us the World Cup. Because once Wahab had the ball, his weapon of choice, he made it his life’s mission to beat Watto around the head with it.
Two things immediately became apparent. Watto’s a dead certainty for the next season of Dancing with the Stars, as the celebrity with two left feet. And he needs to get some urgent death stare lessons from Julie Bishop. Because this ain’t how you do it.
When, in a tortured innings, he finally skied an edge, I traversed both ends of the emotional spectrum, equal parts relieved and mortified.
Blessed be the deities because there was one person on the field playing worse than Watto at that particular moment in time. Luckily for us, it was the bloke under the catch.
As for Maxwell, well he just makes it up as he goes along. Which is fabulously entertaining. But it’s like holding junk bonds in your superannuation portfolio. Unbelievable upside, until it goes to custard and you’re eating dog food in retirement.
If I had to pick someone to play for my life, I’d bat Lleyton Hewitt from both ends. But last night, it was Maxwell and Watto who saw us through.
It’s not conventional cricket. At times, it’s barely cricket at all.
But we live to play another day.