Tuesday 22 January 2013

It's not Cricket, Part 2

Once we reach the Member’s Pavilion, animals and aliens are left far behind. In line with the pavilion’s strict dress code, checked or striped RM Williams shirts with chinos are the outfits of choice for men, and women are properly covered (you’ll see no singlets, lycra or mini skirts here). This place is steeped in tradition with generations of families coming here to see the great game since the pavilion was built in 1886.

Boys dressed in their cricket greens line a walkway where the Aussie cricketers access the ground. They hold their autograph books or cricket bats hopefully, though I’m told the cricketers only have time for these at the end of the match. One of the boy’s fathers remembers as a boy himself waiting behind the stand well after the game, and catching the players as they left. They’d usually oblige. He reels off the names of seventies greats: Dennis Lillee, Greg and Ian Chappell, Jeff Thomson, Rod Marsh.

In fact earlier that day there had been a memorial service for another ‘70’s great, former captain for England, Tony Greig. He died just last month. Tony had settled in Sydney after retiring from cricket and had become a well respected commentator. He will be missed.
I meet Daniel who shows me his collection of autographs from the players of today. Reading from top to bottom there is: Jackson Bird, Ed Cowan, Shane Watson, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Starc. Daniel patiently corrects my misspellings as I jot them down.

He gets close to Aussie captain Michael Clarke who’s bowled out for 20....

and holds out his hand to the boys as he runs past.

I’m impressed with these beautifully dressed men who appear out of nowhere. ‘Where did you get those jackets’, I ask them? ‘In India’, they say. Of course, where else? 

I move back to the other stands, amongst those with a taste for the wacky and come across the cockroach man I'd been trying to track down. It's Andrew from Manly with his mate Dave, from Wingham. I ask for a back view....

 and Dave does a final tweak of Andrew's feelers to make sure he looks his best.

 This Northern Beaches gent from Mona Vale takes the afro up a notch......

but I can hear the bats from Ladette to Lady saying: 'Your bottom half is letting you down, dear. Surely you should have known to wear kitten heels instead of thongs?'

 'This is my dad', says the gorgeous man with the dreadlocks.

 'Scuse me, your trunk's getting up my nose.'

 'Sorry', says the elephant man who adds 'lovely jubbly' to the prospect of being in a blog.

Tom and Jeremy from Ashfield had planned to come as Weet-Bix but had one too many drinks, so made these last minute wardrobe decisions instead.

I thought they were merry men from Nottingham Forest but brothers Nick and Reece from Putney insist they're Christmas Elves.

Danny from Castle Hill looks sensational.

As does Lasantha from Beecroft who has just completed three years of study in Sydney.

 The ducks are Rebecca from Mudgee and Jenny from Brisbane.

We're back to the game and Australia bowls.

 But those clouds are worrying.

Not long into the second half, it starts to drizzle, and continues for ninety minutes. Play is halted and the 22,000 strong crowd are left to their own devices.

We decide to head for the stand above us to join the Sri Lankan supporters who are making a hell of a noise, and wave to this family in the lounge area on the way up.

It's ear splitting up here as the SCG loudspeakers are blasting out music that competes with the Sri Lankan band.These two get into 'Sweet Child of Mine' in a big way.

The Sri Lankan supporters attract a heap of others who like a party.......

including the Newcastle clowns. 

One police constable remarks: 'It's turning into an O Haitch and S nightmare.'

The SCG soundtrack switches from The Village People to Abba's greatest hits. Undaunted by the washout, some of the crowd are busy building a beer snake from their plastic drinking cups - as you do. It eventually runs the width of the Trumper Stand and turns into a world record for the longest beer snake, beating a previous world record made at the WACA in 2009. Cheers go up when this is announced but there will be boos before long.

We head in for a beer and meet Aruna and his lovely Amasha from Canberra. The rain has stopped now and everyone's hopeful play will shortly resume.

But then it's announced the match will be abandoned due to the sodden condition of the outfield. Everyone boos. It leaves the Sri Lankans bitterly disappointed as they'd been in the rare position to win the series against Australia. Winning this match would have taken them to a 1-3 lead before the final match to be played in Hobart, later in the week. Now the Aussies have a chance to even the score. But it's not just the Sri Lankans who are disappointed. It's a controversial decision that's unpopular with everyone. So it's a washout for my first game but I've not laughed so long and hard for ages.

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