Big Bash a big hit with the kids (and Dad?)

They say parents go to the football and take their kids. With basketball, it is the kids who go and take their parents. Twenty20 is the basketball form of cricket. Having looked at the cricket calendar I knew we weren’t going to be around for the international short-form games but saw January 2 as an opportunity to get along to the ‘G; Victoria v NSW in the Big Bash series. The opportunity presents to see Dave Warner in action, and it is not every day that there is a Dwayne playing in both teams.

I mentioned the game to my twelve year-old son Herb, and then left it to him to organise. The outcome was ten attendees mostly about twelve (seven boys and three girls), plus four adults, all on the train from Williamstown. His organisational skills are coming along nicely.

I had pocketed a couple of the child MCC guest passes from day three of the test and these were good for free entry for two of the children. Then with the cooperation of a very reasonable ticket seller who allowed us more than the allocated four-guest pass purchases per member, we were all able to get into the ground. Herb had timed our arrival with the objective of getting front row seats, and he was successful. The adults opted for seats about ten rows back. Not sitting with his parents had been another of Herb’s objectives.

The earlier arrival allowed us to see the final stages of the women’s match between Victoria v Tasmania. Strangely, in the bits and pieces I had read prior to the event, I had not noticed anything about this match being played. Victoria won fairly easily, losing only one wicket in their chase. Seventeen year-old (and I am pretty sure she has a birth certificate verifying the age) Meg Lanning was not out on 52 when the Vics reached their target of 114.

By start time of the main game, it was obvious the crowd was bigger than the authorities had anticipated. The previously-closed top deck of the Northern stand was opened up while the audience also overflowed into the third level seats of the Southern stand. The playing pitch was at the Punt Rd end of the pitch area, the boundary rope was correspondingly a long way inside the fence at the city end. The batting team players congregated in this area of the field, the space also occupied by a series of gas burners which were brought into play whenever a six was scored or a NSW wicket fell.

One of my many, mostly ignored, adages about sport is that if it needs music, it is not real sport. I have played a lot of basketball but have never been able to get into it as a spectator sport. It disturbs me when baseball operators feel the need for Hammond organ interventions to incite the crowd into some sort of response. The game doesn’t need it. I read the other day a complaint from a soccer attendee at the venue formerly known as Docklands about the volume levels of pre-game music. If I had wanted to avoid extraneous music and commentary at the cricket, I would have avoided this Twenty20 game. It was ubiquitous. I know the kids seem to like the constant auditory barrage. The afore-mentioned gas flame throwers also added to the cacophony, although the momentary heat output was welcomed on what had turned into quite a chilly evening. However, I can do without ground announcers telling me when I should be cheering.

In summary, the game was entertaining. Dave Warner (40 from 20) was very good without being brilliant. His dismissal by Dwayne Bravo probably detracted a little from the spectacle. However, if he had stayed much longer, the game would have been well out of Victoria’s reach. It is funny that even in a twenty-over innings, there is a relatively flat spot from overs six to fifteen as the fielding restrictions are lifted and before the final flurry. The rules may as well keep the restrictions on throughout. I also read recently that contrary to popular sentiment, bowlers don’t hate twenty20. There is no pressure on them – they expect to be belted. It is the batters (sorry for the baseball terminology – but women also play this game) who are under pressure to perform.

In chasing their target of 179, Victoria were well served by diminutive openers Brad Hodge (40) and stand-in Matthew Wade (41 from 24). I did laugh when I heard (tall) fast bowler Dirk Nannes refer to them as the two half-men. With Victoria needing fifty from the last four overs, David Hussey took nineteen from one before he was out to a brilliant one-handed boundary catch by Steve Smith. However, Bravo (18 from 8 balls ) came in and finished the job with two balls to spare.

Post-game saw more flame throwing, some on field fireworks (literally) and importantly, some player interaction with the spectators. Our tribe was well pleased with their bounty of cricket-ball stress-balls, wristbands, and player signatures. Back on the train, we were redistributing children around Williamstown by a very reasonable 10.30pm.

The next MCG game in the series is on January 15. If you are at all interested, you should ask if your kids want to take you along. But be careful, you might actually enjoy it.

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.

Comments

  1. Andrew Starkie says:

    Andrew,

    couldn’t agree more regarding ground announcers, background music, DJs, circus acts, flame throwers, incessant commercials etc. etc. at sporting events.

    I attend to watch the footy/cricket/whatever, not to have my ears blasted by Coca-Cola ads or outdated music. If I wanted noise pollution, I’d stay at home and watch Karl Stefanovic.

    I’ve been at footy games where the umpires and players have had to wait for the music to stop before starting the game (don’t get me started about TV ads between goals). At times, the music between quarters has been so loud, I haven’t been able to chat to people beside me. At three-quarter time in the 2008 GF, with the Hawks threatening an upset, the game on a knife edge and the crowd taking a well earned breather, the music was so loud it was like being at a concert. Craig Little yelled sarcastically in my ear, ‘Yeah, and it’s such a boring game, we need added entertainment!’

    Why are spectators constantly confronted with this wall of sound? Do the organizers lack confidence in their product and therefore, need to ‘prop up’ or ‘add to’ the experience for those attending? Are the paying spectators so short on attention, they need to be bombarded with noise in order to distract them from burning the chairs? Or, are the organizers simply fulfulling sponsorhip requirements?

    If I find the ground announcer’s hiding spot at Docklands this year (‘Come on Kangaroos fans, give it a cheer!!’), I’ll hunt him down.

    Having said all this, I’m going to the Big Bash on Friday night and hoping to hear that greatest of all Summer one hit wonders, ‘Echo Beach’ by Martha and the Motels.

    Andrew

  2. Pamela Sherpa says:

    Hi Andrew and Andrew – I’m going to the Big Bash- Tas v Vics – with my teenage nephews and I’m really looking forward to watching the cricket itself. Sounds like it will be a challenge with all the noise nonsense.
    What can fans do about the bombardment of all the advertising and announcements though?

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