Adelaide Test, Australia v India – Day Four: Our Melbourne Cup

Much is made of the back of the members at the Adelaide Oval. By all reports people go there to socialise: farmers just having completed harvest (a relatively good one in many parts of the state apparently); well bred and dressed young women that wouldn’t know a googly from a doosra; the cream of Adelaide’s establishment taking a hard earned break from watching a couple of hours of cricket.

I heard someone at the Almanac launch on Thursday night describing it as our Melbourne Cup. Being the members at Adelaide Oval, however, it has the virtue of lacking gussied up young bogans disgorging a day’s worth of hedonism on the lawns. It also gets bonus points for not using the beating of horses as the excuse for the party.

If that is what is happening around the back of the Bradman Pavillion, I can’t say I have much time for it. It smacks of elitism and exclusivity which is not what Australian cricket is built upon. The great appeal of our summer sport compared to, say, England is that it is the people’s game.

Our captain went to a government school, as did the one before that and the one before that and the next one too (not to mention Australia’s 408th test player). The very basic demographics of it suggest that you will do better if you are drawing from a wider and deeper pool. Indian cricket appears to have been discovering this in recent years. It no surprise that England cricket is becoming increasingly reliant on the more democratic cricket culture to be found in Yorkshire.

It is this sort of pointless elitism that leads the SACA to not make memberships transferable in the extraordinary circumstances of Hughes’ death and the moving of the test on short notice. Their duty to the game in these circumstances should be to put bums on seats (satisfactory excoriation, Rulebook?).

Session 1

Saha and Rohit Sharma hit the crease very much with the plan not to lose – no enterprising batting or sporting declarations to be had today. Saha, proper in his technique, looks much more comfortable than Sharma. As the stands start to half fill, the ground begins humming like a colony of European wasps in the eaves of your roof.

Lyon comes into bowl as first change and immediately looks likely, bowling with bounce and spin. He pretty quickly dismisses Sharma. R, and has the superbly named Karn Sharma in a twirl until he is bowled by the meanest vegan this side of California.

The fielding highlight of the morning also provided by Siddle in dropping Shami in the deep, completely missing the ball with his hands, getting falconed instead. Lyon cleans up the tail getting a very well deserved handful, leaving Australia 73 runns ahead of India’s Shepherd hopping 444. This is precisely the sort of bowling display that will keep Lyon in the first XI and what will likely be needed today as the pitch does not seem like it wants to play any tricks.

Warner and Rogers purposefully and carefully take Australia through to lunch at 32.

Session 2

As the beers in the Magarey Room flow (after Mike Sexton’s story at the Almanac launch the night before it is disappointing that the beer at the Neil Kerley bar is not cheaper than the beer at the Peter Carey bar) and tempers fray as members’ seat reserve stickers are torn off chairs behind the bowler’s arm, Warner continues about his business. He bats with application with just the occasional explosion of flair that usually ends at the boundary rope or with a reverse sweep. It is said (on twitter) that every time a reverse sweep is attempted in test cricket a puppy dies. The RSPCA needs to be put onto Warner immediately.

Rogers does not last long and may not last for much longer at this rate. Watson comes in and is Watson – we really do love him right up until the moment he gets out. He and Warner push the score into the mid hundreds at tea.

Session 3

News filters through that South Australia has been bowled out for 45 in Hobart. The ground, occupied mostly by SACA members and their guests, comment woefully and then politely ignore it. A bag of pfeffernusse sits forlornly on the canvas behind the sightscreen.

Warner is bowled off a (also superbly named Varun Aaron) no ball and unnecessary silliness ensues between the two teams for the rest of the day. Rarely has a day’s play less necessitated verballing between the teams.

After Watson’s hideously predictable dismissal, Clarke strides out to acclaim and looks relatively at ease. Reports of his back’s demise are premature. Rumours that Stephen Dank has been seen around the Australian dressing room are clearly scurrilous. Clarke disappears more quickly than expected.

Steve Smith is a joy to watch bat at the moment. At the start of the last Ashes series, only 12 months ago, as a batsman he was a quivering mess. His footwork and technique seemed designed to enable him to edge to slips as quickly as possible. Since then we have seen emerge a batsman of character with a technique that combines much of other batsmen we love. A bit of Steve Waugh here, a bit of Michael Clarke there. Smith pushes the score along as Australia work towards a stumps declaration total.

After an unusually long time in the 90s, Warner brings up his second century for the test in what is another in a string of emotional moments. He will leave Adelaide feeling he has appropriately honoured his mate. He is bowled, murdering one last puppy for the day.

Mitch Marsh plays a nice bit part, taking 24 runs off an over before not quite clearing the boundary with his last attempt. Australia leave the field with a 363 run lead and a day to bowl India out.

The bleary eyed tragics, who have just competed their fourth day at the test, tell me I got the most interesting one. The test is poised for an Australian push for victory and some stout Indian defence. Given the true bounce exhibited on the pitch, Nathan Lyon (having already claimed a scalp in this session), will tell the story of the last day.

About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    One visit to Adelaide Lutheran FC and you think you’re German.

    Your mislaid umlaut (it is Pfeffernüsse) betrays your limey origins. If it wasn’t for your kind, we would still be able to visit the Blumberg Motor Museum.

    Which school did the Chappells go to I ask?

  2. Ha, I’ll have you know my great grandmother was German, Swish – a Schulz in the finest Hogan’s Heroes tradition. My children are descended from Kavel’s flock too! I blame the hastily typed report and one too many beers for the missing umlaut…

    Is the bard of Elizabeth sticking up for PAC? Shouldn’t you be asking me where Lehmann and Harris come from?

  3. Mark Duffett says

    Strangely I forgot all about my origins and cheered the Tigers on during that astonishing skittling in Hobart.

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Dave and yes while I enjoy the catching up with people in the members there is elitism and stuffiness , the members ticket fiasco goes down as the Saca s most
    Incompetent piece of administration ever , IMO . I agree some of the behavior was bewildering re it got to a situation where aust was always going to declare at stumps
    ( hurry up and bring a run penalty in for slow over rates )
    I write this after a amazing win by the aussies due to a combination of good bowling by Lyon in particular , poor batting and abysmal umpiring
    ( India no sympathy for not allowing drs )

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Entschuldigung Herr Braun, your lot are probably more German than me.

    Not sticking up for PAC, just obscurely making a point that in their case, academic origins didn’t lead to elitism on the cricket field.

  6. Keine sorgen, Swish. As I like to remind the significant other, Langmeil is actually in Poland. I am a great fan of Ian Chappell (even if I was a tad young to see him play other than in highlights). His finest innings was the time in the Ashes in the 90s where Channel 9 had him micced-up on camera without him realising and he set forth with a well crafted string of expletives live to air. Brilliant viewing and gave an insight into Chappell you normally didn’t get.

  7. Thanks Dave. I wonder if this amazing match is the last for Clarke and Siddle. Rogers gets another chance, but needs runs quickly, as does Haddin.Will be a different team next summer.

  8. Could very well be Mickey. They’ve called Shaun Marsh in for Clarke and you’d think Siddle will make way for either Starc or Hazlewood. With Cowan averaging 65 in the shield and a number of other openers averaging over 50, as you say, Rogers needs runs quickly.

  9. Keiran Croker says

    Dave, does n’t each major city cricket ground have an elite membership base? In my case I am now 15 years on the MCC waiting list. So I put my name down for SACA a few years ago and have now been a member for 3 years. Good value if you come over each year for the Test.

    My observation is that it is very much like the Melbourne Cup out on the green at the SACA. Lots of pretty things there to be seen, with not much interest in the actual game.

  10. You are right, of course, Keiran. Apparently two thirds of the people that went to the test were members and their guests. And occupying the second tier of the southern stand has finally given members a decent position to watch the cricket from.

    In the end my point was (as well as being a lazy populist swipe) that the SACA should not confuse the way it markets the game to its members as an elitist event with what it needs to do to encourage grass roots and top level cricket in the state, which should be decidedly unelitist.

    It also needs to think about how it markets test cricket to non-members. Apparently you could not walk in for free in the last hour of the day’s play – they were asking for full price admission. Sheer lunacy – when you are asking $10 for a beer if you can let a bunch of thirsty office workers in for an hour’s cricket it has got to be worthwhile.

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