Backyard cricket, a knockabout game often played with a taped-up bat, a tennis ball covered in dog saliva and a carton of beer for the fielders, is about to be celebrated in cinemas.
From Wagga Wagga, with a lower profile than ”Peter Who” when he was picked for the Test team in 1986-87, comes a new comedy about a game between Australian and English neighbours.
At stake are the ashes. The ashes of a neighbour’s cat who met an unfortunate end in a barbecue, that is.
Grentell, a theatre director who has worked on the musicals Rock of Ages and Spring Awakening, wrote the film with fellow theatre director Peter Cox then discovered they could not attract the funding to shoot it.
”We thought ‘we can’t let this slide,’ ” he said. ”It’s too good an idea. So in January last year, we said ‘why don’t we shoot it in Wagga? We’ve got enough contacts here, we know the people, we’ve spent our lives working in that community.’
”We were literally in mum and dad’s backyard when we went ‘why don’t we shoot it here?’ ”
They raised the budget of almost $300,000 by selling shares to the Wagga community, including a baker, truck driver and fruit shop owner. The film centres on two neighbours – an Australian fitter and turner (Andrew S. Gilbert) and an English financial administrator (Felix Williamson) – who decide to settle a dispute with a game of backyard cricket.
The hope is when it opens in Wagga Wagga, Orange, Tamworth and Albury this weekend, the response will be strong enough for a city release. ”It’s not the greatest feature film ever written but it’s not too bad,” Grentell said. ”People seem to find it really charming and familiar and likeable.”
With the real Ashes about to get under way, the timing has worked out well.
By Gary Maddox, The Sydney Morning Herald