Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A day at the G (in the Members Reserve)

Writing on this blog has been hard work for the past few months. And in the last week, traveling has made it even harder. But I'm in Australia now, surrounded by cricket (especially as I'm in Melbourne). So, as the heat rises on this blistering December 30th, its time to stay out of the sun and pen a few words on this trip's cricketing experience.

That the Boxing Day test is an institution is a cliche. It is also an "invented tradition", for as Tony T points out,
Since 1950 there have been a bare 28 Tests start on Boxing Day. That's 28 out of 59 seasons. The first match to start on Boxing Day wasn't until 1968
And indeed, as recently as 1994, an MCG test began instead, on Christmas Eve. But no matter. For in a cricketing world that has seen just about as much upheaval as it can handle, the Boxing Day test is a nice solid reminder of how it possible to build up a great cricketing occasion, and to instill it with just a little gravitas.

But I couldn't make it to Boxing Day at the MCG (that day, instead, was spent touring the countryside outside Melbourne). But on the 28th, Tony T, who happens to be a member of the Melbourne Cricket Club, very kindly scored me guest passes to the Members Reserve, and off we went to spend "a day at the cricket."

The MCG is, after its extended renovation that began in 2002 and which was completed a few years ago, perhaps the most comfortable cricket stadium in the world. It is hard to believe any ground in the world could compete with its spaciousness, easy access, good sightlines, amenities for spectators and the like. The Members Reserve is done up spiffily: a bit of posh by way of contrast from more plebeian sections. Tony and I stood the entire day by choice, and watched the action from a nice vantage point. The action was good: Umar Akmal dazzled in the morning and Mohammed Aamer made the evening crackle with a fiery burst of left-arm pace bowling. May these lads go from strength to strength; test cricket will be the better for it. In the meantime, Tony and I found plenty to chat about: cricket history, India-Australia cricket relations, blogging, and cricketing flame wars!

Finally, the cool breezes in the higher reaches of the MCG got to us, and we left shortly before close of play. But a memorable day on all counts: good cricket, good weather, excellent conversation with a fellow cricket fan, and a good chance to see how well cricket can be run, and made pleasurable for its lovers.

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