Australia has dominated test cricket over the last 130 years. But it's not the formal cricket academies or high-end coaching that are responsible for the Australian cricket team's winning ways. The backyard has been the real academy of Australian cricket. Don Bradman's unique grip, stance and backlift all evolved in response to the pace at which the golf ball rebounded off the tank stand in his backyard games. Greg Chappell's trademark flick off the hip shot was invented on his backyard wicket where the best scoring opportunities lay on the leg side. Alan Davidson bowled accurately because he had to. If he missed the stumps on his home-made pitch, he had to chase the ball down the hill into the scrub. Doug Walters played spin with ease because his ant-bed backyard pitch spun like a top. Neil Harvey's immaculate footwork came from playing balls that darted viciously off the cobblestones in his back lane. This collection of cricketers and the stories of the backyards that made them gets to the heart and soul of their game. Facing up to hostile brothers on dodgy pitches created a love of competition and developed the skills and the toughness that took them to the top in test cricket.
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January 17, 2011
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