Aussie mums to be, throw away the baby name books. There are only two you need to know. Mick and Mitch. Call your child either one of these, even if it’s a girl, and they’ll grow up to be a be a dead set legend.
Exhibit A: Mick Fanning
Sees off Kelly Slater in the semi-final of the J-Bay Open in South Africa. No mean feat in itself.
Lines up against Julian Wilson in the final. Is sitting on his board waiting for his first wave when an unlikely third contender emerges wanting a slice of the action. Literally.
It’s a shark, of the great white variety, and there’s a sizeable fin showing above the water on live telly. Everyone on the beach and in their lounge room can see it but the first Mick knows about it is when it bites his leg rope.
There’s a flurry of activity. Man versus shark. Two sharks, as it turns out.
He disappears behind a wave. The wait is interminable. “I just thought when that wave came he was gone,” says his mum later.
Seconds crawl by. In which Mick punches a shark. What a legend. Reminds me of this scene from Blazing Saddles.
“I punched it in the back,” Mick tells a reporter on the rescue boat minutes later.
“It just kept coming at my board and I was kicking and swimming. I just saw fin. I was waiting for some teeth to come at me.”
Fanning 1, Jaws 0.
Twitter lights up. South African fast bowler Dale Steyn expresses his admiration. One tweep references the Wallabies’ rugby win over the Springboks. Another says Fanning joins an elite club of people who can claim to have punched a shark.
The surfing community comes to grips with what’s just happened.
“Now I have seen it all,” says Kelly Slater, who was watching from the beach. “It was surreal to me. It’s a big shark, a lot bigger than Mick. In 20 years we’re going to be talking about that day.”
Surfing legend Tom Carroll, who’s been surfing for 45 years, says: “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this.”
Mick’s has a quintessentially Aussie response. “Seriously, to walk away from that, I’m just so stoked.”
Exhibit B: The Three Mitches
Mitch has not been a name that has regularly graced the annals of Australian cricket. Now we’ve got three in the national side. Or as I like to call it:
And all three were embarrassing the Poms in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s overnight.
It must have been especially satisfying for Mitchell Johnson, who was singled out by English captain Alastair Cook before the series.
Cookie didn’t think Mo could find the form that decimated the Poms 18 months ago. Or maybe it was wishful thinking out loud, seeing at that point Mo has dismissed the English skipper eight times in Test cricket.
“Whether he can repeat that, that’s the challenge,” said Cookie.
Guess what, Cookie. He’s baaaa-aaaaack. But then, you’d know that, seeing yours was one of the four wickets Mo took in England’s abbreviated second innings.
To cap it off, Mitch pulled off a precision run-out of Ben Stokes, who had made his ground but was airborne like Nureyev when Mitch hit his stumps.
Coming into the second innings, with England requiring 509 runs in five sessions of play, Stokes had assured the nation the side was mentally prepared to bat out a draw. They were all out for 103.
The English media, in a lather of self-congratulation just a week ago, went to its default setting and turned on its own.
So there you go. If you’ve got a bundle on the way, you could do worse than go with a name like Mick or Mitch. Or Lleyton. Or Jason (fingers crossed). Or Wallaby.
Yes, it was a good weekend of sport for Australia.