Thursday, 5 January 2012

Leather on willow

The MCG, or 'the G'. Melbourne Cricket Ground. Largest stadium in Australia. Tenth largest in the world. The MCG is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. On 30 January 2009, the MCG was named as one of the seven wonders of the sporting world. It is referred to within Victoria as the "Spiritual Home of Australian Sport".

 My first outing to a cricket match. The KFC T20 Big Bash League. Melbourne Stars vs. Perth Scorchers.
 Nothing like test cricket. T20 Big Bash League features eight privately-owned, city-based franchises. A lot of high-profile players come out of retirement to play in the Big Bash League and it gives rookie players the chance to play alongside the greats, such as Shane Warne. I saw him. I didn't see Liz, but apparently she was there.

Now, I don't know much about cricket. I thought it was about 22 guys dressed in white, standing around for six hours a day chasing a red ball. Or rubbing it on their white-clad crotch and leaving a dirty mark. But the game I saw was more about smashing and crashing as many runs as you can, as fast as you can. T20 matches take just over three hours from start to finish and deciding the winner is simple. The team with the most runs wins.
And it is all about crowd entertainment. There are clearly those who go all the time and understand that the action, if not the rules, in the stands is as important as the action and the rules on the field. There are Mexican waves that go around the stadium and everyone knows that the members stand won't take part, the rest of the crowd will boo but the wave will continue regardless. But if you are caught starting a Mexican wave, you will be escorted from the stadium. And everyone knows that there will be beach balls being whacked around between spectators around the stands. Again, if a ball is caught by security, it will be deflated. And everyone knows that Bay 13 - directly opposite the members' stand - will be the most poorly behaved section of the grounds, with drunk and disorderly antics which inevitably lead to a string of offenders being escorted by police from the grounds. All to cheering from the rest of the spectators. All of these MCG Big Bash usuals totally lived up to their reputation. Fantastic!

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