Recreational Reserve, Warrandyte 1973
Before I was a music fan I was a cricket tragic. For this ten year old boy, cricket was the Best Thing in the World. Mostly, I got my fix from the radio. Snuggled next to me under the winter covers at night, my tiny transistor would transport me half way around the world to Lords or the Oval. The velvet-voiced Alan McGilvray would fill my sleepy head with warm descriptions of Lillie, Marsh, Stackpole and Sheahan as they took it up to Boycott, Illingworth, Snow and Underwood. I’d often fall asleep with the transistor whispering in my ear only to wake in the morning with flat batteries in my radio and in my body.
During my last year at primary school, the local cricket club announced that it wanted to field a team in the region’s Under 12 competition. I jumped up and joined up immediately and my passionate and passive fascination with the game became an active, addictive obsession. I trained, practised, borrowed every cricket book in the school library, knew the averages of all the Test players, listened to radio broadcasts and even wrote down the dots and dashes in my own personal score book during important games. Even today I can tell you that Doug Walters’ initials are K.D. and Max Walker’s are M.H.N, without referring to Wisden or Wikipedia.
And while music was beginning to assert its life-long hold over me, back then it still played a distant second fiddle to being a part of a team of twelve boys dressed in pads, batting gloves and protectors.
Until recently I had never imagined that those long, green, Saturday mornings of Under 12 cricket had any sort of soundtrack outside of pre-pubescent shouts of HOWZAT! and the distinctive ‘clongckh’ of willow meeting leather.
Recently, however, as I dial-surfed my car radio, I landed on an oldies station playing Bobby Vinton’s Sealed With A Kiss. And like a kid trying to hook a misjudged, short-pitched, rising delivery, I got hit square in the chest.
Though unheard for more than 40 years, I knew every word, indeed every sound of this languid, middle of the road lament about summer. I never owned a copy of the song, didn’t particularly like it, but it held (and holds) some sort of mesmerising sway over me.
As I sat in my car I was transported back to being a boy fielding on an enormous carpet of iridescently lush grass. I’m wearing a white terry-towelling hat, white t-shirt, white cricket slacks and white Dunlop Volley Internationals. I’m in a kind of deep, concentrated, cricket-coma. In my head I can hear Bobby Vinton’s languidly reassuring voice, the smooth, satin string section, and the easy loping guitar. I hear it over and over and with each internal reprise I start rearranging the song. I lift the drums, put more reverb on the backing vocalists, add a marimba line and get inside the minutiae of the song. My head hears stereo, multitrack, surround sound. I have no idea what I am doing, but I am transfixed by the sonic swirls in my head, a pre-teen record producer and sound engineer, before I even knew such occupations existed.
Back in the car, my adult self is sobbing softly, lost and profoundly present to the song.