As the sun beat down on the crowd on The Mound at Adelaide Oval, on the second day’s play in the fourth Test, three Poms (actually two Poms and one Welshman) could be seen sitting amongs the natives holding firmly to their cloth of white wrapped in two wooden poles. A strange sight indeed, as many of the natives did wonder what it was that these invaders from o’er the sea were holding so close to their person. Amidst many cries of “Good shot Simmo” and “Good on yer Lawrie” those Poms sat unperturbed, saying nought, but sitting in perfect peace. Many Australian men could be seen drinking many Australian beers but, needless to say, the three Poms inbibed not one droplet, rather sat quietly, minding business their own, doing nought to show their distaste of the whole proceedings.
Lunchtime came and passed with nothing of note happening except that Simpson and Lawrie were still going strong (scoring runs) as were the Australians on The Mound (drinking beer). Between lunch and tea nothing changed, runs still came freely as did the sweat from the brows of Smith’s men in the field, and beer still went down many dry Australian throats. At tea, whilst the player’s took a welcome break, the spectators (not of course the three peaceful Poms) took the opportunity to replenish their Esky’s with more cans of beer.
The players took the field (they brought it back later) after the tea ajournment, amidst cheers from the spectators – Australians that is. Ten minutes passed, and likewise the English score passed that of the Aussie openers. Cheers rang our across the ground – great jubilation, even the three quiet Poms sitting sedately on The Mound were seen to clap their hands, reservedly, of course!
THEN Titmus bowled one to Lawrie and, after 4.5hrs at the crease, he was OUT! The first English wicket to fall.
Suddenly, all was quiet, no cheers from the natives but what’s this …….. three previously quiet Poms were on their feet….. cloth-white unfurrled between the poles and waving over their heads with great gusto, voices raised in jubilant tribulation. My God!! Suddenly cans, beer and bottles rained down upon these three noble gentlemen striking them upon the body with force, inflicting pain on their proud forms. The natives clearly disliked this gesture of goodwill towards the England team and showed it in no small way. The writing on the cloth – white between two poles – stated: UP THE POMS. Which was like red to a bull, and it may be said at this juncture that the natives’ behaviour strongly resembled that of this sacred animal. Suddenly a large shadow looms from nowhere; the figure dressed in blue, or is it black – complete with hat (SD variety) is of the local constabulary. It seems he disapproved of the “vulgar” behaviour and “If yer don’t put that flag down cobber I’ll turf you out of the ground for disturbing the peace.”
Now, the Welshman, took very unkindly to this remark and pointed out that wouldn’t his time be better empoyed controlling the natives throwing the bottles and cans – or was it that he was biased in some way? These remarks, to say the least, were not received kindly but, luckily, a can struck him on his headgear and he turned his attention to the natives, forgetting his threat to the three Poms.
Two further wickets fell before the end of the day’s play, and on both occasions the cloth – white between two poles – was raised. Only once were missiles thrown, none of which reached their target due to the adroit movements from the “Bannerlifters”. On the final occasion of a wicket falling no cans – beer or bottles – were thrown, probably due to the fact that the natives were, to use an old Amy term – “”Out of Ammo!”
The above was pubished in “The Pillar” a monthy newsheet for members of the RAF Support Unit (Australia) in February 1966 and only recently unearthed.
Simpson and Lawrie scored 344 between them that day and Australia won the Test. The series was drawn 1-1 and Australia retained the Ashes.