OPINION

In bed with a commentator in your ear

Familiar? A "transistor radio" from a day long gone.

Familiar? A "transistor radio" from a day long gone.

It has all the origins of a cult - a little bit of paranoia, a little bit of shame and a fair dollop of secrecy. It is listening to cricket under the covers.

Those words are likely to inspire two responses - a sceptical raising of the eyebrow followed a short time after by an eye roll; or a quiet, almost imperceptible nod of understanding.

If you completed the eye roll manoeuvre, know that this is by no means an attempt at validation or explanation. but maybe a plea for tolerance. It's about to get hectic in the Mother Country, after all.

If you are a cricket under the covers listener, you have already spent a fair few hours indulging during the recent Cricket World Cup. Perhaps now is the time to come clean and own your "habit".

Research (a quick chat with fellow super-fans) suggests the condition has its genesis in childhood.

Back in the day, the idiot box did not have dedicated cricket channels; there was no live-blogging and even the radio coverage was difficult to pin down, depending on where you lived.

The tinny radio transistor, with all the clarity of a person facing in the opposite direction shouting into a gale; maybe a torch and ye olde style single earpiece was smuggled under the covers.

But if you could crack a strong ABC Radio signal, woah, you were hooked. For life.

Back in the 1970s for me, the English summer (a term used loosely in the UK) started under the covers with Wimbledon, though admittedly, tennis on the radio is a bit problematic. But all was forgiven if it was an Ashes year in England.

The tinny radio transistor, with all the clarity of a person facing in the opposite direction shouting into a gale; maybe a torch and ye olde style single earpiece was smuggled under the covers.

Parents were given heartfelt assurances that yes, bed was for sleeping and the door was partially shut. The listening - and a lifelong habit - began.

And even with the advent of 21st century media and communication, there's still nothing quite like "cricket on the radio". Instead of brick-sized "pocket transistors", it's now a glowing mobile phone stuffed under the pillow, streaming service locked on and earbuds inserted.

Somehow it's just better than TV. There's that imaginative element, you get to create pictured in your mind's eye, and you share a conversation with the commentators who magically know how to wield verbal paintbrushes. That, it seems though, is a skill in sad decline.

As an alleged adult like me, you may not need not have to justify your (sometimes sad) sports habits. But like all idiosyncrasies, it's nice that they're understood and accepted.

Janine Graham is an ACM journalist