Time Out: Fishy rules reunite the ping with pong

I'VE been in intense training the last couple of weeks since I heard the International Table Tennis Federation Oceania Cup will be held in Bendigo in June for the next three years. 

We had the best name in sport, Miao Miao, grace our delightful city last month spruiking the sport. 

I fancy myself a bit of a backyard table tennis pro. 

Years of being brutally beaten at the game by my older siblings have hardened me up and made me, if not a worthy opponent, then at least a very competitive and aggressive one. 

If a big name player pulls out of the tournament and they need a replacement, I'll put my hand up for that. 

And I'm sure I'm not the only one in Bendigo that considers themselves a bit of table tennis-ing alright. 

Seeing we just got a table tennis table set up in our house, I am also thinking of calling up officials and offering up our new table as an alternative court if they're in need. 

However, they would have to abide by our house rules, which include playing off the surrounding walls, low ceilings and oddly placed sink.

Game on if it lands in, even more kudos if it's deliberate. 

You also get an extra point if the ball disappears down this strange hole in the ground which is precisely ping pong ball sized and which only purpose seems to be to swallow ping pong balls whole. 

I have a feeling if we found out where the hole led to, we would find a room like one of those ball pits at Ikea, and possibly a bunch of unhappy children sitting in it waiting for their parents to collect them.

My mum is also a bloodthirsty opponent when it comes to table tennis. 

Instead of using skill, she's more into the psych-out , which means you're always uncomfortable and wary, even if you hold a 19-5 lead. 

She tells me she got her competitiveness because she grew up one of ten and as a fisherman's daughter. 

In my mind, these sappy stories of her childhood are accompanied with a string quartet playing melancholy songs. 

Apparently unable to afford a proper bat, the kids fashioned a table tennis bat using the lid of a fishing box. 

My response was that this was utterly ridiculous. 

A box lid seems a little difficult to hold, let alone manoeuvre, let alone actually produce enough power to send the ball over the net. And what if it rained? 

I also asked if they used fishnet as the net and the eyeball of a salmon to complete the game. She didn't find that as amusing as I did. 

Unperturbed and adamant an entire box lid could be used as a bat, she said the same item was used as a tennis racquet, sans strings, and an imaginatively-shaped rounders bat. 

It was then I lost my cynicism and just had to admire the versatility of the fish-box bat. 

I also wonder whether such an ingenious invention has been patented. 

So I have this to propose to the International Table Tennis Federation for next year's tournament. 

A Bendigo roster of Bendigo table tennis elite. 

House rules. Fish-lid bats. 

Get practising Bendigo.

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