Lucas and Dida (that’s Granddad in Croatian dialect) love cricket.
Dida introduced Lucas to the rudiments of the game about 6 years ago. At every opportunity, they play cricket together. For more than a year now, cricket’s become the subject of an elaborate charade, enacted by just two persons: Lucas and Dida. If you don’t like cricket, you may already be thinking “this story’s not for me”. But, I implore you, read on. This story’s really about the relationship between a child and his grandfather.
Let me transport you to Lucas’ and Dida’s world of make-believe.
The 2017-2018 Tests Series between the North Queensland Bulls and the Brisbane Nuts is over. It was the fifth in a series of matches between the two teams. Of the 4 matches played, 2 at Merri Merri Park and 2 at Cicada Park (home ground of the Brisbane Nuts), the Brisbane Nuts won 3. Lucas, captain of the North Queensland Bulls, conceded defeat. It was a hard pill to swallow. “Mr Did”, captain of the Brisbane Nuts, accepted The Ludi Cup on behalf of his team.
And the winner is…
It was Saturday 6 January. The whole family was in attendance for the presentation ceremony. Asher, one of Lucas’ friends, was also present on this momentous occasion when Lucas made his concession speech and handed over The Ludi Cup.
Lucas (showing Asher the shiny pewter cup): “This series we’ve been playing for The Ludi Cup. It’s one Dida had, one he was awarded years ago, so we decided to make it our trophy. The winner of the series gets to keep it.”
Asher (bewildered): “The Looney Cup?”
Me (to Asher): “Well, that’s close, Asher. But no. It’s called The Ludi Cup. Ludi: LU from Lucas, and DI from Dida. And the funny thing is this: ‘ludi’ in Croatian means ‘crazy’. Looney, crazy – it’s just the same!”
Lucas: “And the winner of the 2017-2018 Tests Series and The Ludi Cup is… Mr Did.”
Origin of “The Ludi Cup”
Lucas came up with the idea of a Cricket Tests Series between him and Dida. It was about 16 months ago. Having undergone years of instruction and backyard practice with his Dad, and intermittently with Dida, Lucas decided that he and Dida were ready to take the game to the next level. Lucas wanted to compete just like the professional cricketers he and Dida watch on TV. The Cricket Tests Series may have been Lucas’ idea, but its planning and execution were shared (over months) by Lucas and Dida.
They played the first series during the 2016-2017 Summer school holidays, at Cicada Park and Merri Merri Park (both in Brisbane). The second series was held during the 2017 Easter school holidays, partly at Escape Stadium (Agnes Water), partly at Bulls Ground (Koumala). Bulls Ground is the home ground of the North Queensland Bulls. They played the next two series in September 2017 and November 2017 at Bulls Ground and Concrete Stadium (Koumala). The fifth series, dubbed “The Ludi Cup”, is the one that has just been completed. According to Lucas, each series they play from now on will be known as The Ludi Cup.
The Cricket Tests Series: The Results
Here is a summary of the results of the five Cricket Test Series.
|2||April 2017||Agnes Water|
|5||Dec 2017 – Jan 2018||Brisbane||1||3|
One game, many roles
As Lucas conceived it, the competition is between two teams: the North Queensland Bulls and the Brisbane Nuts. The two teams comprise one player each. Lucas is captain and sole player of the North Queensland Bulls and Dida is captain and sole player of the Brisbane Nuts.
Lucas chose North Queensland Bulls (Bulls for short) as his team name because he lives in Koumala (North Queensland) and a bull motif is part of the emblem of Koumala State School, which he attends. By the way, if you’d like to know more about Koumala, I suggest you read Koumala: Where’s that? (September 9, 2016). In it, I take you on a guided tour of the town and district.
Dida lives in Brisbane. Lucas loves Dida for his sense of humour and fun. At times, Dida can even be a little crazy (that is, “nuts”). Hence Dida’s team is called Brisbane Nuts (Nuts for short).
My dear reader, it must be evident to you that Lucas and Dida (as the sole players for their respective teams) have to assume all team and player roles (batter, bowler, wicket-keeper, fielder, 12th man, and so on). Actually, I’m not sure how they manage to fulfill all of these roles. But, from what they report, they do. Perhaps this is why they come home exhausted after each day’s play!
The other day I asked Lucas how the 2017-2018 Tests Series was going. We were sitting side by side on the back steps of our home. It was a quiet, intimate moment.
Me (to Lucas): “What are you better at – batting or bowling?”
Lucas (without hesitation): “I’m an all-rounder.”
Me: “I see.”
Then, before I could say anything else, Lucas launched into an explanation of what it means to be an “all-rounder”.
Me: “Okay. I know. So, what about Dida? What’s Dida’s strength?”
Lucas (emphatically): “Oh, he’s a fielder.”
Me: “A fielder? What about batting… or bowling? What is he good at?”
Lucas: “Neither. He’s the twelfth man.”
Me (surprised): “Oh, poor Dida. So you think he’s not very good at batting or bowling. Just fielding.”
Lucas: “That’s right.”
Me: “Oh, don’t tell Dida.”
Lucas and Dida play several other roles besides their on-field ones. These include: curator, grounds attendant (that is, crowd controller), commentator, interviewer, umpire and record keeper.
The teams insist that the grounds are in top condition for their matches. Thus, before each match, Lucas and Dida prepare the pitch and the grounds. They remove obstacles. Next, they set up the wickets and mark out the boundary. Then they agree on what counts as a four or a six. In Brisbane, they take over Cicada Park (it has a new concrete pitch) and Merri Merri Park (it has a grass pitch), both huge stadiums. In Koumala, they have use of Bulls Ground, a medium-sized stadium with a grass pitch, and Concrete Stadium (so named because it has a concrete pitch). Both grounds have an odd-shaped “oval”.
Crowd control is one of their constant concerns. Sometimes spectators invade the grounds. Some even have the hide to walk straight across the pitch! At Cicada Park, the odd patron will come for a drink at the tap just behind the wicket! At other times, a spectator or two wants to join in. (Of course, they can’t.) Such disturbances interrupt the flow of the game and generally lead to a temporary suspension of play. The team captains find this very frustrating.
Lucas and Dida, alike, provide excellent commentary on their test matches. After each match, those of us at home get to hear all about it. To us it seems like they are describing every ball bowled, run made, near miss, catch and dismissal. We are obliged to relive the day’s play with them.
One of the really fun roles Lucas and Dida assume is that of interviewer. Before the commencement of each day’s play, and during lunch breaks, they conduct interviews with the captains of the opposing teams. Lucas’ character is J. J. Jefferson; Dida’s alter ego is Adult Genuine (pronounced “Ad-doolt Gen-u-een”). Here’s an extract of an interview with the captain of the North Queensland Bulls conducted by Adult Genuine at lunch during the fifth day of play in September 2017:
Adult: “How did you find that first ball?”
Lucas (looking quite forlorn): “Devastating.”
Adult: “Devastating. You played right over the top of it.”
Lucas: “Oh, well. It was good bowling.”
Adult: “Good bowling.”
Lucas: “Bad batting.”
Adult: “Bad batting. So the opposition got 30. Do you think you can catch them up?”
Lucas (quite upbeat): “Definitely. We got more than 50 last time. So – yeah.”
Adult: “The visiting Brisbane Nuts are very confident…”
Lucas (cutting in): “Oh, they sure are.”
Umpire and record-keeper
Last of all, there are the roles of umpire and record-keeper. Lucas and Dida share the role of umpire. That’s a given. There are no video umpires, and no replays. The umpires’ decision is final. As for record-keeping, that’s Lucas’ domain. He meticulously records all the scores in a special book. Here are pages 1 and 2 of the record Lucas made during the September 2017 Test Series.
During the last series (The Ludi Cup), which was held in Brisbane, the teams found a fitting way to relax, unwind and cool down after each day’s play. Dida resurrected the 1984 Max Walker’s Cricket Game, one that he and our son Daniel used to play when Daniel was Lucas’ age. Daniel loved that game, and now so does Lucas. In fact, Lucas wanted to play it every day after Dida introduced it to him!
The Cricket Tests Series, an example of creative recreation
Lucas’ and Dida’s fantasy world comprising their very own cricket test matches is an example of what Edith Schaeffer called creative recreation. It produces creative results, stimulates creativity and provides exercise and refreshment. The play takes place outdoors, which is a good thing, given that children today spend so much time indoors sitting in front of a TV or using an iPad. More importantly, though, as an example of creative recreation, it’s the result of someone (Lucas and Dida jointly in this instance) creatively planning an activity that in itself is novel and different.
In fact, Lucas went so far as to produce a video of Day 5 of the Third Test Series. It’s all his own work. The selections, the cuts, the music. At the beginning, Lucas poses as J. J. Jefferson (interviewer) and introduces “Mr Did”, captain of the Brisbane Nuts. You’ll see Adult Genuine (interviewer) speaking briefly. You get to view some of the action and see and hear the cheer squads Lucas organised for the match, which was held at Bulls Ground (Koumala). Lucas is much indebted to his mother, who patiently video-recorded the entire match. The following video clip is an abridged version of the event.
Now, let me bring you back to the real world.
If you’ve read Grandparenting: Ain’t it Grand (July 17, 2016), you’ll know that our grandchildren live far away from my husband and me. Our grandparenting, for the most part, is of the long-distance kind. We get to see our grandchildren in person 3-4 times a year, usually during school holidays. So, in expectation, we spend quite a lot of time planning how we will spend our time together during their visits to us or our visits to them. Moreover, as I wrote in Grandparenting: Ain’t it Grand, my husband and I look forward to the time when our grandchildren are old enough (and permitted) to come to stay with us without their parents.
Well, it happened…
Lucas (aged 11) came to stay with us in Brisbane for a few days, all on his own! Lucas’ parents agreed to let him come to Brisbane by aeroplane to accompany Dida to the first day of the First Ashes Test between Australia and England on Thursday 23 November at the Gabba. It was a first for Dida as well as Lucas. (My husband and I have been to several one-day cricket matches but never a test match.)
But there was more. Not only did Lucas and Dida go to the cricket, but also on the Friday evening they attended the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-final game between Australia and Fiji. (Dida and Lucas follow rugby league as well.)
The following day, Saturday 25 November, my husband and I left Brisbane to drive the 900 km north to Koumala. Lucas was with us.
Lucas’ solo trip to Brisbane had to be the highlight of his year, for two reasons at least. First, he got to spend more time with Dida (and me) and, more importantly, he had our undivided attention. He lapped it up. Away from his parents and siblings, he was quite a different child. He seemed so much more grown-up, so charming and amiable. He was surprisingly subdued (he is normally very chatty). I think he was a little overawed by the circumstances. I know for sure he felt special and loved. It is said that grandchildren have an innate desire to love and be loved by their grandparents. The second reason? Lucas saw “real” cricketers in action for the first time.
One month later…
To top off Lucas’ year of cricket, for Christmas Dida gave Lucas a teatowel entitled “The Serious Cricket Watchers’ Guide to Field Placings”. (Tony hoped it might encourage Lucas to dry the dishes more often.) Lucas loves it and has decided to make it into a pillow case so he can sleep on it!
As for Dida, his and Lucas’ year of cricket (both fantasy and real) has been immortalised in a photo collage, a treasured Christmas gift from Lucas and his family. I’ve hung it in a prominent place in our home, as a reminder of the special relationship between Lucas and Dida.
Apart from cricket
Whenever Dida and Lucas have opportunity, they spend time together each night before Lucas goes to bed. They’ve been doing this for years. Just the two of them. They reminisce about the day’s activities. Dida tells jokes and sometimes he sings. They read a Bible passage and discuss what they’ve read. Lucas always has lots of questions – about life, Jesus and the Bible – which Dida tries to answer. They finish by praying together. All of this takes about 30 minutes. Precious minutes.
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Dear reader, I’m sure you’ve realised that it’s not cricket that really matters in the relationship between Lucas and Dida. The cricket’s just a means to an end. It’s all the planning, expectation, time, energy, drama, fun, teaching and modelling that goes into building their relationship – that’s what really counts.
Perhaps “The Ludi Cup” (The Crazy Cup), the name Lucas and Dida have given to their Cricket Tests Series, is a misnomer. In my opinion, what Lucas and Dida aspire to (by their cricketing charade) is not at all crazy. It’s what every child and loving grandparent desire.
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvellous deeds.
Even when I am old and grey,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.
Schaeffer, Edith. (1971). The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Creative ideas for enriching everyday life. Tyndale House Publishers.
Kimmel, Tim & Kimmel, Darcy. (2007). Extreme Grandparenting: The ride of your life. Tyndale House Publishers.