Monday, January 14, 2008

A trip down under

Phew. So this long break from blogging comes to an end. I'm back from Australia, where besides meeting a lot of friends, I managed to sneak in some cricket as well: the first and second days at the MCG, and the second and third days at the SCG. Too much has been written about lots of things connected with the tour, so I'll resist the temptation to stick in my two cents, and will concentrate instead on my takes on the MCG and the SCG, the two grounds where I've seen the most test cricket in my life. The last time I was at the MCG, construction was underway on a new stand, which is now complete. As a result, the conversion of the MCG to a football stadium model is now complete. The three layers of the stands now run uniformly around the stadium, and the old view of the city skyline is gone. However, the MCG still retains all its atmosphere - it, in the minds of Melburnians, is as famous as a football ground (for the AFL), and cricket and Aussie Rules jostle for equal attention there. The stadium is very spectator friendly: there is plenty of space to move around (no sense of overcrowding), the bars and food stands are plentiful (I was pleased to find that the bars continued to stock Four-n-Twenty meat pies, which made my food and drink runs much more efficient), and you can move around easily with the general admission tickets (its quite common practice to find different viewing angles for the day's play during the day). The cricket on Boxing Day was excellent even though my viewing of it was not so optimal (being side-on isn't great, don't you think?). The cricket the next day, when India did their pointless crawl, and handed over the test to the Aussies was decidedly less so. Things were decidedly less spectator-friendly at the SCG. Construction on the old Doug Walters Stand (itself a concretization of the infamous Sydney Hill) is underway for a higher-end stand. In the meantime, access to the O'Reilly Stand the lower level below it is completely buggered, resulting in long lines for entering and food and drinks and in crowded passageways, which are almost claustrophobic at times. The second and third days saw those wonderful innings by Laxman and Tendulkar and I count myself fortunate to have seen both of them live (that taking apart of Johnson by Laxman and the Sydney crowd's ovation for SRT on his reaching his ton will live long in my memory).

Aussie crowds tend to be very knowledgeable at the cricket; most of them have played the game in some shape or form, and are never short of an opinion. Its quite an experience too, to hear the almost instinctive reaction that goes around the ground to a good piece of cricket, one of the most gratifying responses to a game. When all is said and done, watching a game of cricket at the ground is the best way to get a handle on all the hype that is generated by television and the print media: its a game played by a bunch of guys, and the people at the ground can often transcend their nationalist tendencies when they see something they like.

Plenty more to write, of course. All in good time.


Blogger straight point said...

welcome back SC!!

its good that you resisted the temptation but it would be interesting to know your impressions purely from spectators point of view...

2:52 AM  

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