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Forgetting your wife's birthday and all that

Australia's 1949/50 tour of South Africa was a model of its epoch.

They were away from family for six months and only paid £450. But the cricketers were very excited. Even for senior players like off-spinner Ian Johnson, the excitement was infectious.

On March 2, Johnson was driving with his wife Lal to the Essendon Airport for a cricket trip to Adelaide. He stopped at the air depot to check if someone knew the side selected for the tour. 

VCA secretary Harry Brereton was able to confirm his inclusion. The rest of the journey was all about him thinking about team compositions and of distant and exotic South Africa. 

He paused once or twice to wonder why Lal was so uninterested.

He realised only after they returned.

2nd March was Lal's birthday.

Acknowledgement: The Summer Game by Gideon Haigh