I’ll admit it hasn’t been the most technically brilliant innings. It’s had a bit of the Glenn Maxwells about it — a lot of air swings and inside out shots while going for the big hits.
It has on occasion lacked discipline, like a young Dave Warner; elegance, like Glenn McGrath batting at number 11; and diplomacy, like Kevin Pietersen pretty much at any time in his career.
Plus I’ve had a David Boon approach to training.
But I’ve always had a crack. I’m not one for occupying the crease boring the crap out of everyone, like Chris Tavare. Or waving the leg cluelessly in front of the wicket, like Shane Watson.
No, I’m more a suck-the-marrow-out-of-life type. Even though I don’t particularly like marrow.
You do a lot of thinking about your 50th birthday. Well I did anyway. Maybe it’s because it’s the first milestone birthday where, in all likelihood, more lies behind than ahead. That’s not meant to sound maudlin. It’s just mathematical fact.
I cried the length of the Pacific Highway — happy tears, the fit to bursting kind — as each song brought back memories of certain people, places and times.
The thought that came to mind — and which has stayed with me since — is: what a rich life this is. And the thing that makes it rich is the people you share it with; your friends and, above all, your family.
I know a lot of people think they’ve got the best family in the world. But I really do.
I learned about love from her, about looking at the world with a curious eye and the importance of laughter.
My brother, he’s the emerging patriarch of our small clan. Not the media mogul kind. The benevolent kind.
A couple of years ago, when I was considering a course of action in which I couldn’t see the risk, he reminded me in no uncertain terms what I had to lose. He is fearless, my brother, when it comes to protecting the interests of people he loves.
His wife is the sister I never had. We are very different people but appreciate each other’s strengths and qualities. She is incredibly generous with her time, more than I’ll ever be. She’ll drop everything to help her family or a friend in need.
She said she’d made me a ‘little cake’ for my birthday. It’s a 1965 bottle of Grange with photos from my childhood made out of icing. Her cakes are her creative outlet. They’re a labour of love hours in the making. And she made one for me.
This is my brother’s second marriage. He chose well. They have two beautiful kids and one of the greatest joys of my life is that they call me Aunty Kaz.
Beyond this happy band of seven, there is a network of friends, too numerous to mention, hand picked from my various walks in life, who shape my chronology and who I am.
I don’t feel anywhere near grown up enough to be 50. I once looked at people this age and thought they knew everything. Now I know they didn’t.
But I have learned some lessons in life. I’ve learned it’s not an A to B proposition, as I believed in my 20s. By the time you’re 50, you’ve forgotten what B is anyway, let alone where it is and how to get there.
I’ve learned to appreciate the simple pleasures in life — the smell of rain, except when it’s two days before your party; the first mango of the season, which I had a few weeks ago; your child’s laughter, which I hear a lot; a jacuzzi full of plastic balls; and the complete set of John Howard eyebrows you get about a week before you turn 50 without even asking.
I’ve learned there is light to be found even in the darkest moments. And that family and friends really come into their own at that time.
And, having gone to the funeral this week of a former journalism colleague just a few years younger than me, I’m reminded that while 50 might seem old at times, it’s not.
Which brings me back to cricket. As any self-respecting Aussie knows, when a batsman reaches 50, they half extend their bat to the clubhouse. It’s an acknowledgement that while there’s a good score on the board, it’s just a start. It’s a job well done but it’s far from over.
So I’m raising my bat to mark my half century. And to assure you there’s a lot more to come.
Right after this drinks break.