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Bushey Manor: 1976

Every Christmas I get to play the Wii with my ten-year-old nephew and despite weeks of training prior to our session, he always wins. It is a tale of woe that only Australian cricketers can truly understand.

The Wii is a galling piece of technology but at least I have worked out why I do not excel when playing it. Apart from the fact that I generally lose interest after 5 minutes of… whatever game we play, it’s clear that the only technique you need for, well… whatever game you play, is a decent topspin forehand.

I am proud to tell you that I reached the final of the 1976 Bushey Manor Junior School Tennis Tournament having played my own unforgettable part in an ‘epic’ semi-final clash with the up-and-coming talent that was Paul Taylor, who possessed the most scintillating topspin forehand – a like of which you have never seen and are unlikely to ever see again – that the playground bookies felt sure would curtail my progress in this under-11s blue riband event.

My tactics were clear. I had decided to blunt this arcing menace with my mean forehand slice and it proved to be a legendary, historic ploy. With the match at a nail-biting 6-6 my guile undid Taylor’s ferocity and I was able to emerge as victor after a mesmerising tie-break. His heart was broken at the loss, and Ruth Gordon, watching adoringly as I shook my opponent’s hand, later agreed to show me her pants in the art cupboard as a result.

Now I think the excitement of the pant-reveal did cause me to lose concentration during the 6-0 drubbing at the hands of an imperious Nicholas Heafford in the final, but that’s not the point, the point is, I have never mastered a decent topspin forehand and when I do attempt this technique in any Saturday afternoon knockabout, the ball does one of two things: either it travels vertically off the rim of my racket and into the stratosphere or I plant it straight into the ground.

So, I have concluded that the Wii is only for the Paul Taylors of this world and it’s definitely not sympathetic to my natural style. I suspect that every Christmas Taylor is giving his son/nephew a right old whipping, desperate to ease the pain of 1976, while I, however, am stuck in perennial Wii mediocrity, constantly having my festive season ruined by a cocky kid in oversized Gap shorts.

So, in a bid to stop the rot I have been practising relentlessly for a Christmas Day match that will inevitably result in tears and Will Halliday, this is for you: at 3.30pm on December 25, 2010, you will be beaten… and the tears will be yours.

Sad isn’t it?