11 January 2013, Commonwealth Bank Series, Australia v Sri Lanka, 2.20pm, MCG
God bats at four and bowls a mean bouncer…
The game was advertised as “summer’s biggest dress up party”. When I go to dress-up parties, I’m always a bit disappointed when someone else dresses up in the same costume as me. Unfortunately for about 15,000 people last night, they all came dressed in the same costume – as Sri Lankan fans. The ground was packed with blue shirts, and people waving the lion flag. It was an amazing sight, and made it difficult to work out who was the home team at times! If it wasn’t for the Sri Lankans going to the game, the ground would have been close to empty.
Their passion for the game was summed up by one man’s sign:
“If there’s no cricket in heaven – I’m not going”.
Living the high life
I was lucky enough to be attending this game thanks to a corporate invite, though I usually attend most other cricket games anyway using my MCC membership (which is, by a long shot, the best value sporting membership in the country). We were spoiled with exceptional seats, and outstanding food all night. We met some great people and I enjoyed some drinks with my client. Good times.
I introduced @gerifitz to a test cricketer at this function, and when Geri started discussing the merits of the rotation policy, he commented on how I’d found a good one! Now that’s endorsement from a high source!
Money, money, money.
Going to sporting events costs a lot of money. I have to admit, if I was given the choice between watching at home, or forking out $35 for a general admission seat at a contest which didn’t really matter, I’d consider choosing the TV (although once I started watching and saw the commentary combo of Slater, Healy and Brayshaw, I’d probably grab my wallet, head for the train, and go straight to the G). I can see why families would rather pay far less and come to a Big Bash game. It’s probably unfair that I’ve got no kids and a reasonable income, and I was the one who got a free ticket! Tickets to the big bash were $20 for adults. Tickets to this game are between $35 and $145. Almost 20,000 more people turned up to the Big Bash on Sunday and I am sure that cost is a factor in deciding which game to attend (although there was 14,000 less on Tuesday). Who can afford to attend three MCG games in a week without the benefit of a free ticket or an MCC membership?
I have often wondered why sports promoters feel the need to charge exorbitant prices for games. I want to see a sporting body take the brave decision to offer $10 or $5 tickets and attract a massive crowd. The Melbourne Storm offered $1 tickets for the last game of the “dead” 2010 season and drew a 20,000 crowd to a game that would have usually attracted 10,000. Cricket Australia saw they would attract a small crowd to this game and offered a 3 for the price of 2 deal to attract fans – so maybe they could try something similarly radical for the Australia-West Indies one day match in February?
Australia A? A for awesome!
While some in the media were lamenting the supposedly poor side selected, I was really looking forward to this game to see how the debutants went, and if the Aussies would be successful in unearthing some new talent. I was disappointed to see Aaron Finch get out early, but Hughes and Bailey then put on a show. Phil Hughes was in outstanding nick, hitting some great shots early, consolidating when wickets fell, and then unleashing after he reached a deserved 100. He is now the first Australian to make 100 on debut, and the 8th overall internationally. George Bailey has been growing on me as a member of the one day side, and I think he should be a permanent fixture as he is probably the form batsman in the team. It was disappointing that Glenn Maxwell was unable to take his chance but hopefully he gets another opportunity this summer. As for David Hussey, who belted a quick 60 at the end of the game (including 21 off the last over), he continues to do a great job for Australia in short form cricket and I reckon he’s a chance to go to England this year as a reserve batsman for the tests. Australia finished on 5/305.
The bowling was solid if not spectacular. The spectacular highlights came from the fielding. The run out from Khawaja was great – he is clearly answering the questions asked by selectors about his previously poor fielding, although he needs to learn to slide his bat when running – and Haddin took a blinder of a catch. Chandimal tried hard to hold the Sri Lankan innings together but it was to no avail as they fell over for 198, including the embarrassing dismissal of Thirimanne for a diamond duck (run out without facing a ball). I read a stat from Brydon Coverdale of Cricinfo – this was the first Australian win over Sri Lanka at the MCG in four games. Perhaps this is a sign that the selectors did something right? I will happily return to watch that same Australian side in action.
Save the ODIs!
As much as I lament that this crowd was small for Melbourne’s high standards, I will be interested to see whether any of the other one day games held this year attract a similar crowd to last night. Half the other cities can’t fit 27,000 in their stadiums, and those that can fit 27,000 are unlikely to draw those numbers.
After Tony Greig’s passing, channel 9 replayed his commentary of an amazing Steve Waugh catch at a one dayer in the 1980s at the MCG where he ran behind the sightscreen. The crowd in the Southern Stand that day was huge, and the roar for that catch would have been phenomenal. It would be great to see crowds like that at the MCG again (when a team other than England is playing!)
The party never stops
The fun didn’t end when we left the ground. On our way to the train station, we walked past a party
So, remind me, who won the game again?
Yours in sport,