THE photos are black and white but the footage is preserved in the soft colours of '90s TV sport.
Seventeen thousand people half-filled the Sydney Cricket Ground a week before Christmas in 1994. A World XI against a Sir Donald Bradman XI, each a blend of current players, has-beens, the actors Gary Sweet and Ernie Dingo, and rugby league personality Paul "Fatty" Vautin. It was very Channel Nine.
That night the World had the 25-year-old Trinidadian Brian Charles Lara, cricket's megastar who'd recently set records for the highest individual score in a Test (375) and first class game (501 not out).
Late in the game he faced Zoe Goss, also 25, picked by The Don himself from the Australian women's team and who, among 21 blokes in coloured trousers, wore a green skirt and knee-high socks. She cantered in. Lara coiled his bat behind his head, the gunslinger. The 20 metres to the incoming ball evaporated. Cricket at the end of a Sydney night gets grimy, juiced up on the dew, the white ball stained grey. Lara lunged as it slid from Goss's right hand, a fish darting in water the colour of fish. It passed him by.
"Well you have to feel a bit sorry for Brian Lara," said Bill Lawry in commentary, joining many at the ground in a collective mourning.
The coverage crossed to Lara, as he walked off to generous applause.
"That's how it goes sometimes."
That 1994-95 summer, Australian cricket's blood-soaked narrative from the far side of the world was the drought-breaking win in the Caribbean. But what if that gimmicky night at the SCG (Ernie Dingo took three wickets) was the seed of something seismic?
That's how it goes sometimes.
Cricket Australia's latest census found that 1.6million Australians participated in the game last summer, including 464,000 women and girls. The analysis leans on MyCricket, a digital database of club players that tends to double-count and, for your typical clubby trying to claim a career batting average above 12, can feel as dystopian as China's social credit system.
But the trend is hard to miss. Female participation in cricket has almost doubled since the same count five years ago, when the flagship national Women's Big Bash League was still two years away from launching. That league is now mainstream sports viewing, as OK to have on in the background as tennis or, surely, provincial rugby.
More than numeric, the shift feels cultural. In 2007 the Sydney Morning Herald ran a "Girls Guide" column framing cricket, predictably, as "long", "confusing" and of no interest to women due, among other things, to Ricky Ponting's "non-existent sixpack".
"So when life demands that you do cricket, we recommend you fake it," concluded the columnist, Laura Demasi.
"Your impressive knowledge of the sport will earn you serious brownie points, which can be leveraged to your advantage the next time HE complains about your dedication to shopping."
It's hard to imagine that getting past the editors at the end of 2019.
Now, cricket fights for Australia's best female athletes; Ash Barty got away but Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy are the kind of big three the likes of the Matildas would kill for.
Last month a group of preteen girls travelled from Maitland to Drummoyne Oval so they could run on after a game and meet Perry, their hero, touching her and crying uncontrollably as some of their peers might in the presence of a re-formed One Direction.
These days, Test match broadcasts are held together by commentators such as Alison Mitchell - championed, believe it or not, by Mr "My Grandmother Could Have Caught That" Himself, Geoffrey Boycott - and Isa Guha, who've leapfrogged the say-whatever Michael Slaters to trade sensible field-placement hypotheses with the Ricky Pontings.
They are frequently the ones focussed on the cricket. Shane Warne once spent the first morning of the Boxing Day Test running a poll about types of pizza.
Tonelle Handley was still a few years off caring about cricket, the night Goss got Lara at the SCG.
The Mayfield East-based health researcher, 32, began to fall in love with the game at the turn of the millennium, the same summer Brian Lara's West Indies were bottoming out.
"That's when we had that unreal team - Steve Waugh was captain, it was a good time to start watching. It was around the time we broke the record for the most Test wins consecutively," Handley says.
"I had three brothers and they were all into it, whereas I used to have no interest, it was just on all the time. But then one day my brother explained it to me and I got what they were doing, that they weren't just whacking the ball around but there was a strategy. And I've basically been into it ever since."
Handley ticks several of Cricket Australia's boxes - she's young, female, and she introduced her partner to the sport.
But against the backdrop of stubbornly meagre crowds for Australia's Test against Pakistan at the 'Gabba last month of 13,000 for each of the first three days and fewer than 5000 on day five, she embodies a major concern for the game's administrators.
"I just don't really go to the games. I'd rather watch on TV," she says.
"The times I've been in Sydney it's hot when you're there, you're in the sun a long time. And I know it's not why everyone goes, but I'm not that big a drinker."
Australia's five-nil win over the Windies in Handley's formative cricket summer sparked earnest wider discussion of a permanent imbalance in the game, where cricket's elite would now feast on the developing nations, who could only hope that any crumb of a result would fall tumbling into their world as a banquet (this theory didn't account for the weakness of England).
Like a hypochondriacal friend one takes with a grain of salt, cricket has a habit of predicting its demise.
But for Handley, one of five siblings growing up with a generous backyard in Hamilton, where her dad mowed the lawn into a "pitch" and let his children saw their own bats from sheets of timber, there was no down side to Australia winning all the time.
"I think it was kind of cool to watch your team win, Warney just bowling everyone out in one session," she says.
"When you're a kid and your team loses you crack it a bit, so I think those few years where we didn't helped build and maintain my interest at the age of 12."
If you'd chosen to make this, the current and 143rd summer of Australian Test cricket, the first you'd paid attention to, you might have questions.
Why, for instance, is it a big deal that a ball is pink? Is the "pink ball Test" in Adelaide different to the "Pink Test" that starts in January in Sydney? Since when are three colours of ball used in a game that isn't pool? How, in a country picked to the bones by drought, are there so many rain delays? What kind of sport loses time to rain, resumes, then stops 10 minutes later for a half-hour "dinner break"? And how does a sportsman move to within touching distance of a world record, only for onlookers to decide he shouldn't surpass a guy who was playing in the 1930s, and his own captain to determine he's achieved quite enough?
If this feels like a shrug of a cricket summer - the kind in which back pages fill with photos of footballers returning to training - it's not without reason.
The state one day cup used to be a nerdy pleasure and detox for your footy-ravaged brain. Now it's all played on the one afternoon in a BWS car park in Toowoomba, or something. The 11 Sri Lankans unlucky enough to stop off in an Australia that suddenly took the skills of T20 cricket seriously were lucky enough that no one seemed to know the games were on Fox.
Even the Pakistan series, in the end as one-sided as Sky News after dark, had the out-of-season feel of a Christmas tree put up too early. Still. Things have happened.
Australia's Pat Cummins, described on Twitter as "what Don Draper thinks he looks like", dominated cricket nuffies' water cooler chat when he apparently took a wicket in Brisbane off a front-foot no-ball. The case is now being argued for the TV umpire to watch the front line every ball, the office workload equivalent of having to restart your computer 600 times a day.
Eyebrows had already raised that morning when the pre-match Welcome to Country included the line, "good luck to the Aussies, good luck to the Pakis".
Nothing that Naseem Shah, Pakistan's 16-year-old debutant fast bowler, endured in that game could compare to the loss of his mother 10 days earlier. But when he thought he'd claimed his first Test wicket - the prized scalp of David Warner - only for it to be overturned on a no-ball, it was like seeing a lad have his present taken away on Christmas morning, and being told not only that Santa doesn't exist, but here is evidence that Santa colluded with Russia.
By the time Warner in Adelaide had batted and batted and batted his way into history - but not too much history - the cricket was showing its first signs of elbowing its way into a smoke-filled summer that most of the country has spent in a kind of fugue state.
For the nuffy who looks abroad this time of year, the quirks of time zones can offer near 24-hour cricket. A seismic series is happening in India, where the best team in the world has just played its first day-night Test under the administration of Sourav Ganguly, a man who once tried to cheat on the result of a coin toss. The sight of a full Eden Gardens in Kolkata, despite a one-sided thrashing of Bangladesh, might delay Test cricket's last rites once more.
And across the ditch, like an Ocean's Eleven with different vowels, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson has been quietly assembling the strongest line-up in his nation's history. The first Test against Australia starts in Perth on Thursday in the afternoon, local time, watchable by viewers in the Indian cricket universe.
With three of the top 10 batsmen in the world and a couple just outside, the Black Caps could provide Tim Paine's men with that great Australian cricket obsession, a tight Test series. Or, as when they got stage fright in the 2015 World Cup final, the Kiwis could leave our shores empty-handed as cricket's perennial Good Blokes. That's how it goes sometimes.