Snapshot Sunday: Johnny Bairstow English Cricketer

Johnny Bairstow at Bellerive Oval during an England v Australia A tour match 2013

The Ashes are on again and the First Test is being played at “The Gabba” in Brisbane this week. I think this beardless boy is England wicket keeper Johnny Bairstow. This photo was taken four years ago when England were playing a tour match against Australia A. Hobart does not rate an Ashes Test Match which is a shame because I’d love to see one but hate going to the mainland in summer.


Two Captains
Michael Clarke (Australia) and Mahale Jawyardene (Sri Lanka) chatting after the coin toss at Bellerive Oval, Hobart.

I haven’t written anything for Marilyn’s photo prompts recently. Not because I haven’t wanted to but because all the running back and forth to Hobart has started to make it hard to concentrate on blogging. However when I read this one I had to try because of my exasperation over the recent Ashes cricket disaster. The series is now over; England won three matches out of five to regain The Ashes. They will come to Australia in two years for the next series. It was a strange series. A Test Match is 5  days of play with 90 overs of 6 balls each bowled each day. It’s not unusual for a match to end within that time but not one match in this series went the full five days. Two lasted four days, two lasted three days and one and I’m ashamed to admit that Australia lost this one horribly, only went for two and a half days. The two that we did win were huge wins so really the whole series didn’t make a lot of sense. As it was being played in England the television broadcast started at 7:30pm and lasted until 3 am. I started out sitting up for the first two sessions going to bed sometime around the tea break. I usually sit up till around one in the morning so that was not a stretch for me.

However, as things got worse I could not stand to watch Australia bat any more and would wait until Australia bowled to start watching. I actually always like watching Australia in the field more than I like to watch  batting. Maybe it is because I am a totally uncoordinated person who was always hopeless at sport. I find it the athleticism of these guys, taking difficult catches or being able to throw the ball from a long distance to hit the stumps for a run-out is quite amazing. Of course the opposition teams have players who can do this just as well but I am biased to prefer to watch when Aussies are doing it. 🙂

I remember watching an interview with then Captain Ricky Ponting after a successful Ashes series ended in Australia. He was being interviewed in the dressing room and all around him players were talking and laughing and had probably already opened their first bottles of beer. Anyway what really stood out for me was that while talking to the interviewer another player tossed him a packet of biscuits and he caught it with one hand without looking and while still continuing to talk. That impressed me nearly as much as winning the series :).

I am not a lifelong cricket fan, it’s only been an interest of mine since I moved to Tasmania. It’s hard to explain why that happened but it did and it happened at a time when the Australian cricket team was doing very well and the captain at the time, Ricky Ponting, is from Tasmania. At first I just watched it on television but after a while I decided that I’d like to go and see a match live. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it as much but I’ve always felt that seeing something on television is no substitute for being there and getting the atmosphere. Sure, you don’t always see as much or get the same commentary but there is something about seeing your team play live that you can’t capture on television. Plus, of course, I wanted to take pictures. I’ve been to at least one match every summer now for the past few years.

I’ve written before about the short form of the game, the T20 Big Bash competition. That’s very lively and entertaining and the fans get into it; wearing team colours and making a lot of noise cheering for the local team the Hobart Hurricanes. We get four home games and I try to but don’t always get to all of them. The season is short as the series is played during the Christmas/summer holidays with most games in late December and throughout January. I go with friends and we cheer and yell and sometimes groan too. It is good fun.

I have also been to One Day International matches in Hobart. These are longer games, 50 overs for each side and are sometimes played as day games and sometimes as day/night games. These are also quite fast paced games and I like them more than T20 which is over in just a couple of hours. The recent Cricket World Cup was a series of 50 over games which Australia and New Zealand hosted and Australia won.  Australia in the field

Hobart does not get Test Matches every year so I haven’t been to many and I have never been for the entire five days of a Test Match. I usually like to go on the first day because I enjoy the anthems and the coin toss and because there is a better chance of seeing the players from both teams warm up before the game. Also at that point the game is an unknown quantity where later, on day three or four it may already be a foregone conclusion how it ends, if it lasts that long!

I don’t know if I would ever go to see cricket in another state. I would like to in some respects. I used to work five minutes walk away from Adelaide Oval but I never saw a cricket match there. It would be very exciting to be part of the crowd at the Boxing Day Test Match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and I would like to visit  and see a match at the Sydney Cricket Ground with its lovely old grandstand so full of character. I’d also like to go to a Hurricanes away game somewhere. However one thing puts me off doing those things and that is weather. I simply loathe the heat and I would be thoroughly miserable sitting in forty degree heat all day. I try never to visit mainland Australia in summer except for important family events.


Twilight at Bellerive Oval




How The Ashes Began As a Joke

Sunbury "Birthplace of the Ashes"
Sunbury “Birthplace of the Ashes”

The cricket season is on us again with the first international match being played tonight so although this is not an Ashes summer I wanted to write about a recent visit I paid to Sunbury, Victoria, “The Birthplace of the Ashes”. I know that some of the people who read this blog are not from cricket playing nations, or maybe are just not interested in cricket. I won’t judge them. I didn’t care for it myself until about 12 years ago. Anyway for those who already know all about it please bear with me while I attempt to explain how the Ashes began. It will be a lot easier than trying to explain the LBW rule which still baffles me. I mean, as far as I can see, LBW is a rule that says that a man is out because of something that might have happened had he not been standing where he was. But let’s not go there.

Ashes Urn 1921.jpg
Ashes Urn 1921” by Unknown – .Illustrated London News, January 29, 1921; page 132. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

It all began back in 1882. Queen Victoria was on the throne of England and the British Empire had spread to far distant parts of the world. This meant that England now had opponents to play cricket against.

The British Empire.png
The British Empire” by The Red Hat of Pat FerrickFile:BlankMap-World-large.png and own work by uploader. Composed from maps found in:
Brown, Judith (1998) The Twentieth Century, The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume IV, Oxford University Press ISBN: 0199246793.
Dalziel, Nigel (2006) The Penguin Historical Atlas of the British Empire, Penguin ISBN: 0141018445.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The match between England and Australia at The Oval in London was said to be one of the most exciting ever. After a poor start the tourists beat the home side by just 7 runs after fast bowler Fred Spofforth took 14 English wickets for 90 runs. The Australians had beaten one of the best English sides of the time and the hosts were demoralised. A few days later” The Sporting Times” published the following obituary.

In Affectionate Remembrance
E N G L I S H C R I C K E T,
which died at the Oval
29th A U G U S T, 1882
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances
NB – The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.

Fast forward to a few months later when the English team under the same Captain, the Honourable Ivo Bligh, later Lord Darnley, paid a visit to Australia. Three official Test Matches were played in Melbourne and Sydney. As England won two of them pride was restored. The English side then went on to tour southern Australia while the Australian team went to England to play. After a match in Adelaide, which England won,  Bligh made a speech in which he said “I have come to retrieve the ashes of English cricket.” This was probably the first time the expression was used but it meant little at this stage.

The next match was against Victoria and was played on the grounds of Rupertswood, a fine mansion in Sunbury owned by Sir William Clarke (see, we are getting there) which is about 40km north-west of Melbourne.  During the team’s visit a group of women, including Florence Morphy who was Lady Clarke’s music teacher, jokingly presented Ivo Bligh with a small urn which was said to contain the ashes of the bails used in the match.

Rupertswood Mansion, Sunbury, Victoria
Rupertswood Mansion, Sunbury, Victoria

Florence Morphy married Ivo Bligh a year or so later and the small urn remained in the possession of the family until Lady Darnley donated it to the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London after her husband’s death.

I have included some links at the end of this post that go into a bit more detail.

Rupertswood  was sold in 1925 and again in 1926 eventually being bought by the Salesian Society for use as a boarding school in 1927. In recent times the mansion has been used as a function centre and it was possible to do a tour of it but recently the owners decided to use it as for administration offices and much of the historic furniture and fittings were sold at auction. I was disappointed to hear that as I would liked to have seen inside.

I did manage to see the outside of the mansion on my recent visit to Melbourne and as it happened a game of cricket was being played on the oval while we were there. My friend Bruce visited Rupertswood before the auction and took a lot of photos of the interior of the mansion. He has been kind enough to allow me to use some of them in this post. Thanks Bruce.

In the main part of Sunbury you can see some bronze busts of famous Test cricketers, W.G. Grace, Ivo Bligh, Donald Bradman and Dennis Lillee are all represented. At Melbourne’s MCC Museum which I will write more about in another post I talked to one of the old members who told me that until recent times touring English teams would often return to Rupertswood for a picnic match. The demands of modern cricket mean that his no longer happens. But at least I did see the birthplace of The Ashes.
Here are a selection of photos of Rupertswood by Bruce Laughton. The bronze busts in Sunbury town centre were photographed by me.

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Rupertswood Oval
Rupertswood Oval

 References and Further Reading: