Thursday, 17 February 2011

Tasmanian Devils

Tasmania? Van Diemen's Land?  Hitherto FB associated the island with Irish folk songs, Ricky Ponting, David Boon and the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.  Not a bad set of identifiers you would have thought.  Maybe not a strong reason to stir FB's wanderlust to hie to the island paradise, but sound claims to fame none the less.

But things have changed.  Tasmania now boasts a highly individual new museum - the Museum of Old and  New Art (MONA).  Reports describe it as the largest private museum in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is the brainchild of Aussie professional gambler David Walsh.  FB knows nothing about Mr Walsh, far less how a career buying lottery tickets could generate enough cash to endow a museum of this sort. For this museum is something else.

Part of the new museum site
Among its exhibits are a piece by Belgian artist Wim Delavoye (no, not a name familiar to FB either) which mimics the human digestive system.  The curators have to feed it and it produces excrement every day at 3pm.  Nice.  Another work is an unmarked toilet in a row of cubicles which uses mirrors to give the user a close up of the critical action.  Even nicer.  But it is not all toilet based - there is also a sculpture of the mangled body of a suicide bomber - in chocolate - and 150 anatomically correct  porcelain sculptures of women's nether regions.  FB feels weak and just hopes that somewhere there is a nice gentle watercolour or two to admire.

The museum is organised round a series of Pavilions - but shamefully there is no cricket pavilion.  FB therefore challenges Mr Walsh to repair this oversight and commission modern artists of M Delavoye's calibre to produce cricket inspired works.  Will he rise to the challenge?

This failing is particularly sad since Tasmania has a proud cricket heritage starting from the first European settlement in 1803. The first recorded match took place in 1806, although it is most likely that unrecorded matches were already being played at this time. Many of these may well have been organised between hotel licensees in order to create profits through the sale of food and beverages, and through betting on the outcome.  Shocking and FB finds this hard to believe. 

Despite the fact that Tasmania played in the very first Australian first class match, against Victoria in 1851 (which they won), it took a long time for them to gain recognition in inter-state competition.  But in 1969 they became a founding member of the domestic one day tournament and have performed well in it, particularly recently, winning it four times. They are current champions.  Tasmania were admitted as full participants in the Sheffield Shield in 1979-80, which they finally won for the first time in 2006-07.

Tasmania's finest players remain Ponting and Boon but there are several Tasmans in the current international squads - Hilfenhaus, Paine, Doherty, Krejza.
Luke Butterworth

Scotland has considerable affinity with Tasmania  - many emigrants headed there in the 19th Century and a significant number of place names are obviously Scottish.  And there have been recent reports of the island developing a malt whisky industry.  Early histories report cricket being played in June and July,  to reflect the emigrant's Northern calendar and contemporary accounts record the atrocious conditions of wind and rain - just like the cricket season in Scotland in fact.   

The Scottish Saltires side has hired Tasmanians as its overseas player - present Tasmanian skipper George Bailey has played  the last 2 seasons and in 2011 Luke Butterworth will do the job.  Come on Luke - a couple of hundreds will do nicely.
Danny Buckingham 

But there's more.  A long time ago, almost before the dawn of time, when FB played at Royal High and professionals were starting to become more prominent in the then East League, the club's first hiring was Tasmanian Danny Buckingham   He probably averaged over 100 for RH such a dominant bat was he.

Danny is now a Tasmanian Hall of Famer.  Perhaps they'll put him in the museum some time.  Good on you, mate.

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