Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Day at the Cricket

For the third year in a row I got myself along the the picturesque Adelaide oval to watch some test match cricket; this year it was against India, and was the fourth and final test of the summer – in a series which Australia had dominated; it was, prior to the Adelaide test, 3-0 in our favour.

The powers-that-be, in their infinite wisdom, had scheduled the test to begin on a Tuesday, a truly mindboggling decision given that the vast majority of people don't actually take time off work to go to the cricket, preferring to go on the weekend. Yes, it would mean that the third day would be the Australia Day public holiday (falling this year on the Thursday), but if they'd made that the first day, they'd have gotten that huge crowd plus good ones on Saturday and Sunday – should the match go into its third and fourth days.

Which, given that none of the other tests had gone to five days – and the last one wasn't that far off being over in two days – would have been a huge concern for them by the time the day rolled around.

Anyway, I had taken Friday and the following Monday off work to give myself (with the public holiday Thursday) a five-day weekend, so I thought that I'd probably go on the Friday – if, of course, we hadn't already won the match by then. Of course I wouldn't know this until late on Thursday, so I wouldn't be making any plans until then.

However, on Tuesday I got an email from a friend who had a couple of Friday tickets which she couldn't use, and she said if I wanted them I could have them. I thought for about two seconds before saying I would take them, and the decision was made. Once Australia ended Tuesday with a decent score and a few wickets in hand – pretty much guaranteeing it would go to the fourth day – it was looking like the right choice.

I couldn't find anyone to take the other ticket I had – I don't have a lot of cricket fans amongst my friends; not really all that surprising, given that most of my Adelaide circle are theatre people – but that didn't bother me too much; I've been on my own before, and it's not a big deal.

What I did need, though, was an AM radio – an item that I don't currently own1 – so that I could listen to the commentary on ABC 891; apart from the announcements that come through the speakers when a wicket falls or there's a change of bowler, you aren't provided with a lot of information about what's going on. So on the way to the ground I shopped around stores in Rundle Mall before finding one at JB HiFi.

Parked my bike and wandered into the ground to my seat – which was a damn good one: a few rows up in the Chappell stand, with a good view of both sets of stumps. Here's a picture from my seat:

The first session was actually a bit disappointing. Australia's big-hitting opener David Warner had gotten out the previous afternoon, so I wouldn't get to see him bat; however, given the circumstances – we already had a lead of over three hundred and would be sending India back in before too long – I expected that we'd be trying for quick runs.

But this wasn't the case, and what we ended up seeing was pretty much standard test batting. Yes, there were some great shots, but we didn't get any of the extravagance that I thought we'd get.

Anyway, lunch was drawing closer, so I sent a message to my friends Tracey and Sam, who were also going to be at the game – albeit in the Members' section (the opposite side of the ground from my earlier picture) – and we were planning to meet up and have lunch and a drink together. But that plan changed when they discovered they could get me into the Members' as a 'crossover' guest of Sam (who's a member) for $10 – this only applies from day four, though; the first three days it's members only.

So I met Sam at the members/general admission crossover point and headed to the main gate where I logged out with my ticket so I could get the upgrade back at the Members' entrance; however, once we'd gotten back there, we were told we had to go back to the main gate (i.e. where we'd just come from) to do it there. So, we trekked back around to the main gate – a fair distance, especially considering it'd gotten quite warm by then – and finally got it sorted out. And it didn't even cost $10; because my ticket was for the Chappell stand (and therefore worth more) they didn't need the extra money.

I've never been into the Members' section before – thought it probably wouldn't matter if I had, given that they've recently redone it all. We wandered around for bit, collected Tracey and then made our way to the outdoor section, which has tables and chairs and a selection of catering tents – including one for Mumm champagne and another for Pimm's. The seating area looks like this:

Apparently it's not uncommon for people to just come and sit outside all day without actually watching any cricket at all.

We got a jug of Pimm's and sat; I spotted a friend, Daniel, as he passed and had a quick chat to him. By the time we finished the jug the second session had started, so we clambered up a lot of stairs (and one escalator) to the grandstand area where Sam's sister and her husband were. It's across the other side of the pitch from where I was sitting before and the view looked like this:

By this point, of course, Australia had declared for a second time, meaning that India was batting. And this time they were batting well – for a change. So we watched the second session and when they reached tea, we wandered back downstairs and outside. Ran into another friend, Matty B, and spotted Adam Tuominen – Adelaide actor who was in Underbelly: Razor and the Envestra advertisements.

We headed back upstairs for the last session, but went to a different section. It was an exciting session; it started at 2/92, with Tendulkar in and looking to both save the game for India and score his hundredth international century. But the former became a much more unlikely prospect when Dravid was out for 25; three overs later the latter also escaped the Little Master's grasp when he was out for 13. But he got a standing ovation that lasted the entire time it took him to walk from the pitch to the players' exit – it was an amazing feeling to have been part of that.

Kohli and Laxman put together a good stand, but then Laxman got out by hitting a full toss straight to Marsh in the covers. This brought Ishant Sharma to the crease, which prompted Clarke to bring every fielder in close in the hopes of a catch from the spinner, Lyon. And here's a picture:

Not long after that Kohli was run out by a spectacular piece of fielding by Ben Hilfenhaus with one more over remaining in the day's play – which was bowled to Saha, who managed to block out all six balls without much drama.

And then it was time to go home. I'd had an excellent time in which I'd seen some great cricket – including getting to see Tendulkar, who will almost certainly be the world's greatest test run-scorer for many years to come, if not for all time – and got to explore the new section of the grounds and spend some time with friends.

So, all in all, a damn good day. And a hell of a lot better than the last day I'd spent at the cricket - the first day of the 2010 Ashes test against England where we were at one point 3/2, and were eventually all out for 245.

1Actually, now I think about it, I might still have an old portable cassette player with a radio – but if I do I've no idea where it is.

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