What I’ve Learned This Summer: Ricky Mangidis
The 2011/2012 summer of cricket is quickly drawing to a close, and in years to come, we’ll look back with sepia-tinged goggles and reminisce fondly about Pup’s three-hundred, KP’s return to form, and Doug Bracewell’s spell at Hobart. At The Sledge, we get nostalgic about things very quickly; as such, we’ve asked some of the brightest cricket writers from around the world to put together pieces on What They’ve Learned This Summer.
This cricketing summer has been an odd one for me. When I was approached to put something together about the past few months of action, I knew that it wouldn’t quite be up to the standard of the excellence that will come from everybody else participating in the series. This is coming from a different perspective to the other pieces, so bear with me as I take a step back to explain why.
Ever since my first memory of Test cricket, when a random kid with a goatee made 96 on his Test debut – Ricky Ponting for those of you playing along at home – it instantly became a part of my life. From madly running home after school to catch the last televised hour of a game from the MCG to avoiding conversations about cricket the day after the 1999 World Cup semi final because I hadn’t watched it all on tape yet, it was almost all I thought about.
I often joked that I’ve forgot more about cricket that I’ll ever know about the majority of sports, which is no mean feat as those that know me will attest. Whenever there was cricket on, I’d invariably be creating a groove in the couch. I still remember getting emotional as a 13 year old when Steve Waugh walked off the SCG for the last time as an Australian cricketer, and no doubt it’ll be much the same when Ponting hangs up his spikes in the near future.
Yet for all the ways that cricket consumed me while I made my way through the junior ranks from age 9, there was one other sporting love for me – the North Melbourne Football Club. The ideals of that club have genuinely shaped who I am and the values I hold. Now maybe if I knew what was going on off field as I went through primary school things might have been a little bit different, but I digress.
So while I gave this writing thing a shot on various websites with cricket, soccer, basketball and other sports, I decided to start up my own North Melbourne blog. Then, with divine intervention I landed a job at North Melbourne as the digital media coordinator. In the space of seven days I went from a 21 year old that wrote in his own time to a full time position at the football club that I’d supported religiously since the early days of primary school.
But being 21 years old also meant that basically every summer of my life was spent either playing or watching cricket…until now. All of a sudden I went from losing layers of my skin at the MCG during the Boxing Day test while trying to mute the Indian supporters to working my dream job. I wouldn’t trade the situation for the world, but it did mean my cricket viewing time decreased dramatically very quickly.
All up I would have watched about five overs of the SCG test, and not too much more of the following match at the WACA. Where normally I would have watched the majority of the overseas Tests between England and Pakistan, instead I found myself having to catch up with other pursuits that took priority.
The Test series between Australia and India finished, the triangular series was about to begin and then it struck me – I hadn’t even seen Sri Lanka’s squad yet. If this had happened just 12 months earlier – hell, three months earlier – I would have known that same squad back to front and picked out individual weakness and strengths of the players.
And you know what? Out of every second of the triangular series I’ve watched, it’s been twice as enjoyable as any other, ultimately non-descript, ODI I’ve seen in recent times. It’s almost as if with a different set of responsibilities in my day to day life, this summer has been one where I’ve realised that I can still enjoy watching cricket. There’s not the nagging thought at the back of my head to watch the game while constantly looking for the next angle to write an article from.
Instead of watching with a critical eye in Adelaide as Dhoni seemingly made a mockery of a routine run chase, I kicked back on the couch and watched it as if I was a kid again. Considering that I was the same way when I first started watching the triangular series, with Michael Bevan steering Australia home against the West Indies, it’s fitting that the way I watch cricket has turned full circle this summer.
Ricky Mangidis is the living, breathing, blogging mastermind of The Shinblogger, with a sense of humor as sharp and dry as a well-aged wine.
For more “Things We’ve Learned This Summer”, click here.