Australia v Pakistan – MCG, Day 5: Smith, Starc and Car Parks

In all reality we were driving down to see a rain marred Test finish in a draw. To see how many Steve Smith would make. My boys Gavin and Joshua are enjoying Test cricket every bit as much as the Twenty20 format that’s targeted largely at their age group. The time spent driving and at a day of Test cricket is wonderful father/sons bonding time.

 

I always try the first car park entrance on Punt Road after turning off Swan St, the one right next to Punt Road Oval. As I turn in we see the road leading into Yarra Park has been sealed off. But there’s access, and empty spaces, right behind the Punt Road Oval grandstand. After parking, we note hardly any of the other cars there have a parking receipt displayed. Will I get a parking ticket? Should I remove the Collingwood membership sticker from my back windscreen? Does Brendon Gale personally check every car in Richmond’s car park? I decide, given the day, time of year and likely low crowd, that I will take this punt. Ten dollars saved.

 

Not hard to find a great seat on day 5...

Not hard to find a great seat on day 5…

We find some cracking seats 6 rows from the fence in the Olympic Stand, at wide mid-off. Steve Smith seemingly scores at will. So much time to play the ball. Blending orthodox batting with improvisation. Deft touches for singles and powerful timing, such as a glorious six into the members to bring up his 150. Speaking of powerful timing, Mitchell Starc clubbed 7 sixes, a record in an innings at the MCG by any player. Most of them into the crowd. Australia had racked up 8/624 when the declaration came, the highest ever Test total by any team at the MCG. Steve Smith an imposing 165 not out. What a player he has become. He is Gav and Josh’s favourite player. When I was their age my hero was a Victorian (DM Jones), I wouldn’t have considered a New South Welshman for such status. But I’m happy with their choice.

 

A lead of 181. Pakistan will bat this out on the MCG road. Surely. We run into P.Flynn on the way to the food outlet for lunch, fantastic for my boys to meet the great man. The Test match in play, turf wickets and best and worst lunches in my cricket association are among the topics covered.

 

Sami Aslam and Babar Azam are knocked over early by Hazelwood and Starc. 2/6 turns into 2/63. Younus Khan has added to the calmness exuded by Azhar Ali. New cult figure Nathan Lyon gets one to bounce on Younus who is smartly caught by Handscomb at short-leg. Misbah-ul-Haq lasts two balls, playing two reckless, irresponsible sweeps for a captain of his standing. Asad Shafiq joins Ali and these two will be the hardest to get out. They take the score to 89 when Shafiq gets caught by a sharp, juggling Handscomb. P. Handscomb needs to be careful doing such a good job at short-leg, he may just get stuck there.

 

When Azhar Ali is trapped in front by Hazelwood for a defiant 43 off 112 balls, the game is Australia’s. Wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed battles hard for his 43, Amir sticks with him for a bit but the win is inevitable. Starc cleans up, bowling fast and full around the wicket. The small but spirited crowd make plenty of noise as the home team seal the series, going 2-0 up. Gav and Josh are thrilled with the win as they celebrate in our final session position of the bottom level of the Ponsford Stand.

 

We hang around near the players race, watching the presentations and getting a glimpse of the team and Boof Lehmann close up. There’s much jubilation and, I suspect, relief around the Aussie team. Nice to see Warner and Lyon with their young children on the ground with them as the presentations took place. So much media on the ground as well, with 3 radio stations, Channel 9 and one other outlet I wasn’t sure of doing interviews.

 

We arrive back to the old Rodeo parked next to the Punt Road grandstand. No parking ticket. Winning. Just like Australia. It’s a quick exit from there too. Thanks Richmond FC/Yarra Park. The whole family will be back on Sunday for the Big Bash Melbourne derby. Where surely all car park entrances will be open.

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic.

Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. Good stuff Luke wel played re the car park surely the boys are still raving re meeting,PJF ? Finally we have a close in fielder as a cardboard cut out was better than Joe Burns.Did you have any suspicions re at the game of Pakistan throwing it ? Thanks Luke

  2. Well played, Luke. Must have been great to be there with the boys to see a win like that.
    And what a win it was to get free parking at the G also!
    Don’t worry about the lads meeting Smith, Starc or Warner…they got to meet P Flynn, an experience they will treasure, I am sure.
    Happy new year to you and the family.

  3. Citrus Bob says:

    What an honour Gavin and Joshua meeting The Great Man himself. Did he tell you about his great mate the Sri Lankan Marvin Vaas.
    PJF sponsors him to play cricket in Galle and to keep him out of the Betting Shop. He probably didn’t say that as he is a very private person.
    Luke thanks for telling the world about the “secret” car park. Now we will all have to pay.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR

  4. Dave Brown says:

    Great day’s cricket to get to, Luke. The Pakistani capitulation, particularly Misbah’s dismissal, was pretty pathetic, though. To bat with such spirit in the second innings in Brisbane and such a lack of it in Melbourne must have Mickey setting some interesting homework. My lad has just dropped Travis Head for Mitch Starc – no state loyalties the youth of today…

  5. Top job Luke. It was a great win although there seemed an air of inevitability when the early wickets fell.

    Interesting position short-leg. I’m guessing not many kids say, “Dad, when I grow up I want to field at short-leg for Australia.” D.Boon the president of the short-leg fielders’ club. In the pre-helmet days of my under-age cricket life I fielded a couple times in there to a seriously quick mate who was picked for the shield side at nineteen, but gave up his spot as he had an exam; place taken by Zesers. Obviously took no catches in there ever.

    Enjoy the derby later today too!

  6. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Played Luke.

    I half toyed with the idea of going there for the last day, but did a Baulderstone and got on with my business while keeping an eye and/or ear out as best I could.

    Look out for the pie/ice cream/frozen drink girl tonight.

  7. jan courtin says:

    Hi Luke
    Maybe yours was the car in front of mine, when entering Punt Road ? Yes, the first one was closed and we then followed a car into the next one, which took the Punt Road Oval side road on the left. I thought about parking there, but didn’t want to risk it.

    The $10 was well spent, considering the day’s play and result. Amazing game, all considering.

  8. Luke Reynolds says:

    Rulebook- no obvious suspicions about any of the dismissals except for Misbah’s two horrible shots. Once we got a few early wickets the pressure was on them, Pakistan showed recently in a similar situation in New Zealand that they can collapse like that. Sadly the thoughts of betting and match fixing will always be in people’s minds for results like this.

    Cheers Smokie, the boys throughly enjoyed the day, a day at the Test cricket we will all remember.

    Citrus- P.Flynn never mentioned that, but not surprised by his gesture, quality man. We will just keep the car park a secret between the few people that read my stuff!

    Dave- Ouch, dumping a Redback for a New South Welshman! I’m sure T.Head will give him plenty of reasons to come back. Meanwhile, I’ve been pumping up our new Victorian star P.Handscomb to my boys.

    Thanks Mickey. I reckon as many kids would aspire to one day being a short leg as there would be kids who dream of being a tagger in footy. Or filling the hole in front of Plugger! DC Boon the greatest short-leg ever? Certainly for Australia. Remember Gus Logie being very handy there too.

    Thanks Swish. Will keep an eye out for the Pie Girl, on our way now, we’ll be there for the WBBL game too.

    G’day Jan, like you I followed another car in there, they stayed too. Would have happily paid $20 to park to see a day’s play like that.

  9. Great write up Luke. Good to hear your boys are enjoying the long form of the game too.

  10. Luke it would have been fantastic to watch the finish given the trek you made. Reward for effort. The MCG looked strange on the TV. There was crowd noise but no visible crowd.
    Was PJF discussing any New Years resolutions?

  11. grapevine says:

    My daughter and her husband arrived from Canberra late on day 4 and they wanted to take the 4 month old to his 1st day at the G. Whilst I thought it would be a dull day meandering along to a draw, I agreed to come along. We arrived and heard the 1st Pakistani wicket fall whilst negotiating the security check.

    Down the track we’ll be able to tell the young fella what a brilliant arvo of cricket he witnessed on his first visit to the G

  12. Luke Reynolds says:

    Cheers Damien. They enjoy all forms of the game but have really got into the Tests this Summer.

    Dips- nice to get reward for effort. The crowd made an amazing amount of noise towards the end of the day as the wickets fell. Was a small but very passionate crowd.

    Grapevine- fantastic! Hope your grandson gets to see footage of the day’s play when he’s older.

  13. E.regnans says:

    Well played, Luke.
    A month or so out, we paid top dollar for “platinum” grade reserved seats for Day 2 – only to subsequently watch a day of misty suspended water droplets, dance, fall. It’s a risk.
    Excellent and heartening to read of your risk paying off.

    I was at work on Day 5, as that air of inevitability settled. This Pakistan, as always, is like a box of chocolates.

    OBP – those thoughts will regrettably continue and will forever undermine Pakistan’s results. All results, to be fair. Across many sports. It’s probably only a matter of time before the next big international and/or local sports betting scandal breaks.

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