Sunday, 5 February 2012

Cricket ticket.

Doing things I've never done before is something I like to do as often as I can.  Expressing this thought, I've suddenly realised it's quite hard to express unambiguously.  I do new things regularly - that bit is not new.  It's the actual "thing" that I'm doing that is new.  Phew.

After spending a day visiting my home city I attended my first ever live, professional cricket match!  Those of you who read about the cricket saturation I've endured every summer since I was born may be very surprised at this.  Actually, I'm surprised too!  So how and why did this happen?

A (female) friend of mine is quite into her sport, including the cricket.  We were watching the tennis on my new television one evening and she was talking about having been to the actual tennis to see Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal play.  We then moved onto the cricket and suddenly, plans were being made.  A 20/20 match was proposed and I figured it would all be over in less time than most operas, so why not take advantage of living in the same city as the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground?

Cricket ticket. (c) divacultura 2012

I am amazed to say that I really enjoyed the whole experience.

We met opposite Flinders Street station to make the trek to the hallowed ground (as she put it), along with most of the other 64, 998 people who attended the game that night.  People were in a friendly mood, the weather was stunning and Australia had been killing India every time we met.  I quickly saw evidence of flag wearers - young men dressed for the beach and wearing an Australian flag as a cape.  Very sensible, I thought, although I had my pashmina in my handbag and wouldn't need the flag to keep warm if Melbourne forced us to experience its famously fickle weather.

Approaching the ground, my nerves started to take hold.  I knew that we were sitting up quite high and all I could think about was the incident I'd previously had at Etihad Stadium involving George Michael.  (To cut a long story short I could get up, but getting back down with my fear of heights was challenging for me and the person I was with.)  I was sitting up quite high, but the rake of the seats isn't quite as steep, so this wasn't a problem at the G - except when I looked up, bizarrely, or when there was a balloon being batted around by the kids in front of me.

I was very surprised at how different the live sporting event looks on site, compared with how it looks on television.

Firstly, there's the scale of things.  On television, it doesn't look as if the batsmen have very far to run.  I've always wondered what the big deal is if they can just take a couple of steps and wander across.  On television, it also looks like the bowlers don't go very far - I was amazed to see how far - and fast - Brett Lee ran when he was bowling his very fast balls.  And also the wicket keeper was as far behind the facing batsman as the distance Brett Lee had run.  Eleven people spread out across the ground leaves a lot of unguarded ground.  Especially when you consider there are only nine left after the bowler and wicket keeper have been allocated.  I gained a new appreciation for the work that the fields men have to do.  Cricket was starting to look like a seriously technical game of skill.

Secondly, there are the cameras.  The first one I saw was the Spidercam which is suspended above the action in the middle of the field.  I'm not sure where the operator sits, or if there is more than one operator, but watching it swooping and retreating and spinning was like watching a ballet.  When I watched the highlights on television, I now understood how those shots were taken.  Wonderful!  Dotted around the ground are the fixed cameras with huge zoom lenses on them for filming the crowd and there's the guy out in the middle riding the segway and filming things.  I'm not sure what that footage looks like.

During the time between innings, I was amazed at how much stuff was happening on the ground.  The Australian team came out to warm up, there was a pyrotechnic display and there was a KFC sponsored competition to catch a cricket ball fired from a cannon.  So much of it is about giving air time to the sponsors for the television audience at home.

If I was worried about boredom, I quickly realised that there would be no time.  There were regular broadcasts of snippets of music designed to elicit a united crowd response - the beginning of the Addam's Family theme (lots of clicking), the start of Queen's "We Will Rock You" (lots of clapping and stamping), Harry Belafonte singing "Day-o" (lots of day-o-ing).  Most of the time the expected response was clear, but I remain mystified by the regular Mariachi's trumpet snippet which resulted in something sounding like a cross between a groan and a cheer.

At times there was so much going on it was easy to forget that there was a game of cricket in progress.

The tradition of pitch invasion was perpetuated.  A bloke ran frantically, his bare feet slipping out from under him as he almost made it to the crease before security realised and gave chase.  Play stopped.  The crowd cheered.  Just before he made it, he was smothered by four men and escorted from the ground.  The big screens flashed the reminder that there is a $7800 penalty for doing this.  We figured it would be hard for him to say "it wasn't me, your Honour", given the number of camera angles available and decided that his mates must have chipped in to cover the fine as part of a bet.  The security response was more rapid when a balloon later floated onto the outer field.

Many people left before the end when it looked certain that India was finally going to win, but the game finished with a very exciting final over.  The Romantic in me was hoping for a tie, but it wasn't to be.  I was very glad that we had stayed until the end.  It seemed unsporting to do otherwise.

Walking back to Flinders Street Station, the crowd was a little less exuberant but still polite.  A group of boys ran shouting a redesigned version of the warcry: "Oi! Oi! Oi! Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!" they shouted, leaving everyone hanging.

$36 for three and a half hours of interesting entertainment is pretty good value.  My friend happily answered and explained all of my annoying questions.  A friend like this is an essential accessory for the first timer, although exactly how LBW works is still beyond me.

The most amazing thing is that I think I could see myself going again.  Maybe.


  1. Ha ha, love it! As a total cricket tragic, I love hearing people experiencing it for the first time! Glad you enjoyed!

    I was at that George Michael gig!

    1. Glad you enjoyed this post Tash!
      Loved the George Michael gig. Don't tell anyone, but we snuck our way into the grassed area right in front of the stage and watched from there. Much better than being a nervous wreck for the night!