[caption id="attachment_699258" align="aligncenter" width="628"]<img class="size-full wp-image-699258" alt="Laurie Lee in a safer abode Getty Images" src="https://www.cricketcountry.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/GettyImages-3368936.jpg" width="628" height="355" /> Laurie Lee in a safer abode Getty Images[/caption] <p></p> <p></p><i><a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/tag/laurie-lee" target="_blank">Laurie Lee</a>, author of his famous autobiographical trilogy, was hit by an empty beer bottle on January 6, 1974. <b>Abhishek Mukherjee </b>recalls yet another incident by a rowdy Sydney Hill crowd.</i> <p></p> <p></p>Laurie Lee is usually remembered for his autobiographical trilogy, <i>Cider with Rosie </i>(on his childhood days), <i>As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning</i> (on his first visit to Spain), and <i>A Moment of War</i> (on his return to Spain). He penned down several other works, including poetry and radio plays and screenplays, but the trilogy remains his most iconic work. <p></p> <p></p><i>Cider with Rosie</i> was based on Lee s days in the little Gloucestershire village of Slad, half an hour s journey from Cheltenham. Initiated in 1872, Cheltenham Cricket Festival was the oldest in the world. <p></p> <p></p>Perhaps Lee had watched cricket at the historic Cheltenham College Ground. After all, it was here that WG Grace had scored 318 not out, the second First-Class triple-hundred of all time. He must have heard stories of that innings, or of Arthur Mailey s iconic 10 for 66 in 1921, the spell that inspired the name of the greatest cricket autobiography of all time. <p></p> <p></p>Yes, Lee was interested in cricket. He was on a tour of <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/tag/australia" target="_blank">Australia</a> in the Antipodean summer of 1973-74 to see Australia, his brother [Jack] and kangaroos. Jack, a year older to Laurie, was a renowned movie director. <p></p> <p></p>Laurie was at Jack s house at Paddington (of Victor Trumper fame) when <a href="https://www.cricketcountry.com/tag/new-zealand" target="_blank">New Zealand</a> were touring Australia in 1973-74. The series was significant: in their illustrious history, Australia had played a solitary Test against New Zealand till then, that too on New Zealand soil, back in 1945-46. <p></p> <p></p>Australia would win the first and third Tests by an innings, on either side of a tremendous show from New Zealand in the second Test, at Sydney. New Zealand took a lead of 150 at Sydney despite Glenn Turner opting out due to a hand injury; they set Australia a target of 456 and reduced them to 30 for 2; but rain ruled out the last day s play, as it had done on Day Three. Nevertheless, the Test marked the first of numerous great performances from Richard Hadlee (4 for 33 and 2 for 16). <p></p> <p></p>Richard and Dayle (3 for 52) had already secured the lead on the second day. The infamous Sydney Hill was in a surly mood, more so due to copious consumption of alcohol. Their cricketers had failed them. There was a break in play, after which there would be ten minutes of New Zealand batting. No, it was unlikely that there would be further entertainment in the day s play. So they decided to engage in a beer-bottle fight though, mercifully, the bottles were empty. <p></p> <p></p>Both Laurie and Jack were at the Hill that evening. Then, suddenly, a beer bottle flew out of nowhere and hit Laurie on the head. All of a sudden, about a hundred blokes down the front, and about a hundred blokes up the back, opened up into a flaring bottle. We were caught in the crossfire, he later recounted to <i>The Sydney Morning Herald</i>. <p></p> <p></p>There was blood all over Laurie as he collapsed, attracting a group of anxious people. Some consolation came his way when a group of attractive Adelaide girls rushed to his aid: I was lying back there, with my head cradled in the cupped, scented fingers of this lovely Adelaide dish, and wondering if it was all worth it. <p></p> <p></p>Then he broke loose, when he realised a male police officer was trying to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on him. He preferred the safety of the hospital, where he needed four stitches. <p></p> <p></p>If watching a Test from the Sydney Hill was an experience worth retelling, being hit by the infamous crowd was simply on another level. It was a tale to be narrated to your grandchildren in years to come. Laurie was expectedly elated, as Jack confirmed later that evening: It was an euphoric experience for him. He wanted to go on the Hill. I think he met a classic fate when he copped a beer bottle. <p></p> <p></p>Laurie promised a return to <i>The Times</i>, albeit not an unconditional one: I enjoyed it, but if I go back again I will wear a tin hat. <p></p> <p></p><b>Brief scores:</b> <p></p> <p></p><b>New Zealand </b>312 (John Parker 108, Ken Wadsworth 54; Doug Walters 4 for 39) and 305 for 9 decl. (John Morrison 117, Brian Hastings 83; Gary Gilmour 3 for 70, Greg Chappell 3 for 54) drew with <b>Australia </b>162 (Richard Hadlee 4 for 33, Dayle Hadlee 3 for 52) and 30 for 2.