Backyard Dreaming


Backyard waits.

The lawn’s mowed to resemble the perfect cricket green of our imagination.

Bats out.

Reality.  We gather stumps, make shift – they might be a bin, or plastic wickets, or even more up market free standing metal ones.

Next each family member is called, usually loudly and persuasively by youngest, whose life calling is in this ritual.

It’s late afternoon, he knows better than to try in the midst of Queensland heat.

Hats on, sunscreen even for the late hour, and out we go.

‘Who’ll bat first?’

Not their Dad, he’ll slog it too much and make us run all over, although he also bats deliberate catches when he’s had enough allotted time at the crease and needs to quench his thirst.

Eldest loves to bowl.  He’s even filmed his brother and his own bowling actions so both can improve.  He will bowl fast and hard, because he’s training youngest.  No easy balls from him.

I picture the Waugh brothers putting each other through their paces.

It can be serious stuff this backyard cricket.

Fielders into position, youngest into bat.  Eldest bowls.  No mercy, but youngest is gaining talent day by day, and he can bat when the going is tough, later he will have a great day batting at the super eights in primary.  ‘Thanks big bro,’ he will say.

Mum (that’s me) positioned with camera for a capture of this classic ritual but ready to set it down for a catch, maybe.

Then it’s Dad batting against bowling eldest son, and there’s a true battle on.  He’s determined to have his Dad out.

‘Give it your best son!’

It’s on for young and old.

Youngest children are spectators now and I am sole fielder.

Hubby slogs it, grins – and eldest paces back, Lillee like, to his run up.  The ritual is repeated.  Each child has a bowl to him, but it’s a field day.  One day they’ll have him out!

Daughter varies, sometimes she’s in for the game and other times she’s doing something more interesting in the garden, like filling a bucket with water, what’s she up to, the mind boggles.

Now she’s called to attention, ‘grab that ball.’

Little Athletics was short lived for her; she just liked playing in the long jump/ sand/ pit too much.

There’s variations on this ritual – now we head of to the beach, and the scene is played out again, but this time there’s soft sand, ocean and people walking their dogs, who sometimes like to field.

At times there’s additional family members on visits, after long absences from grandchildren’s lives.

Again I am poised with camera, until called to the crease, to enjoy slogging the ball, and having my kids dart, crab like, everywhere on the sand.

Poppy’s into it, enjoying building the drama.  He keeps spare tennis balls in his shirt pocket, for when others end up out too far in the ocean.

Daughter is not left out; she takes to the crease, and does her best. Poppy’s a gentle bowler.  Now she’s also keen to bowl.  She’s working to perfect her technique.

Now she’s attempting fielding, but not for long, soon the bucket is being filled with goodies to make into art when she arrives home.


For a moment we play heroes like Watson,  Ponting, O’Donnell, Lillee and Marsh.  We are beyond the backyard, beyond cricket hero boundary times– and on perfect cricket greens.


You can read more of June’s Stories at her blog Pearlz Dreaming. 


First published ABC Open, 500 Words, Family Rituals, November 2012.


One thought on “Backyard Dreaming

  1. Comments from ABC Open when it was posted.
    June Perkins
    Thanks Cherina, yes, anyone is welcome to join in and take their turn if they happen upon us.

    Cherina Gray

    I loved your story June and the added details of poppy’s spare balls and litttle daughters distractions, it builds a picture of the naturalness of family life I’m sure if I was walking by as an onlooker I would have felt comfortable enough to join in as dummy fielder

    June Perkins

    Thanks Kate for sharing your story, and just wanted to add Dimity, I think my daughter likes being around us playing sport as long as we give her space to dream – not everyone likes sport, but I think if its part of family life it keeps everybody fit and together, I love walks with my camera too.


    Cricket with friends and family has been a big part of my past and present. We had a game with old friends in Tassie a couple years back and lots of memories came rushing back of my own childhood. I wanted to write about the near present for this one though. Thanks Dimity, Yvonne, Michael and Matilda for your comments. May you enjoy your summer sport, with family, friends and community.

    kate campbell-lloyd

    Love this ritual and your family ball story! Growing up as the eldest of 3 brothers, cricket was standard family ritual….large English vicarage windows collapsed on hard 6’s and gave us punishments + two cricket grounds and a fence to not hit over……..meanwhile the hole we were digging beside the pitch was making it’s way down to Australia. We were all bound for OZ, the sun & the SPORTS!


    As a self confessed cricket tragic, I love this story June! Makes me want to pick up the bat and join in – what a fabulous family tradition and may it continue for many years to come. Now, bring on the Test against Sri Lanka tomorrow….


    Cricket season is here and this has now become my favourite cricket story. I’m sure that even the great players still love their backyard cricket with family and friends and you’ve captured the reasons why, June. Wonderful.


    Would have loved to be there!

    Dimity Powell

    Love it June and I’m not even a fan of cricket or running around that much truth be told! Thanks for sharing your wonderful writing. So crisp and inspired. Dimity x

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