Dingo at the cricket

It’s Mental Health Week, the week that I found out that Mark (Dingo) Hill had taken his life some time ago. I’m not sure why he did but he was a beautiful man in both body and soul. I wrote this piece about Dingo in 2006 after the Ashes Test in Adelaide that Australia won in unbelievable circumstances. Some rate it as the greatest Ashes Test ever and it was Dingo’s first live test match.

Dingo at the cricket

At the Adelaide Oval at last, and in the members on an associate’s ticket. Dingo has dreamed of this day since he was a boy.  

He wanders around not knowing where to go until an attendant (female of course) asks if he needs any help. She finds him a prime seat near the players’ dressing rooms and on square leg. Perfect.  

The excitement of being there takes him through the first tedious days. England batting and batting. Forever. And not just good old Collingwood.

He learns to arrive early, very early indeed, to reclaim that seat each day. Reliable Ricky, a true captain, scores yet another century. The Pup makes the most of his recall and emulates his captain. He loves the Pup. Gillie finds his old self. But still the game wanders towards day 5 without much hope. England should win but a draw looks likely.

Day 4, Monday, pulls as many through the gates as a normal test match first day. Like many of them, Dingo is happy no matter what happens, just being there. Unlike many of them, he is there again at the start of Tuesday.

Did he know that this Australian team would go for it? How could he when only the Australian team believed that they could and would? And only the England team believed they couldn’t and wouldn’t.

A rare victory when none seemed possible. A day for the cricket annals.

As the Australian victory becomes likely, fathers pick up their children from school and take them not home but to the Adelaide Oval. They pass on another brick in the edifice of appreciating the greatest game ever invented. It would have been just another forgettable one-day game without the first four days.

As much as being at the whole game, it is a rare privilege to see unconfined joy on a grown man’s face, especially Dingo’s.

First published in The Islander.

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