Adelaide Test – Day 5: The Kangas are hopping

 

 

Day five is free at Adelaide Oval. The sky is overcast and it’s drizzling. England has four wickets to fall and a crowd of several thousand are set for the kill. The rain stops at 10.25 but the announcement is relayed that play will be delayed, accompanied by the obligatory addition ‘We thank you for your patience’. This has an ominous ring. I hope, unlike the interminable waits on the telephone when dealing with corporate bodies, government departments and agencies, my patience will not be sorely tested.

 

I take my place on a heritage seat with mates Dennis Coon and Jim Young at the back of what’s left of the north mound under the Moreton Bay fig trees. Neville Turner is closer to the play in the seats by the boundary fence. The mound is as far away as I can get from the bullshit. I’ve swiped my members’ card just once getting in today and hope it remains just once. In the last four days when I’ve sat in the southern stand its felt like I’ve done so hundreds of times. The reasoning is that stand being shared between members and other ticket-holders. All the same it seems like countless pointless jobs have been created. Even when you get up from your seat to go the toilet security staff want to see your identification when you return. Next thing perhaps you’ll have to say ‘Please sir/miss I have to go’.

 

People ask what I think of the new stadium and, well, apart from wiping out Colonel Light’s Vision of the city from Montefiore Hill the Oval looks OK from the inside. Sure there’s no view of the Mount Lofty Ranges and there’s just a mere glimpse of St Peter’s Cathedral from a section of the western stands rechristened the Chappell and Sir Edwin Smith stands and the Sir Donald Bradman Pavilion. Whether it works quite so well is a moot point.

 

I arrive at 9 am on the first day and sit on level 5 of the southern stand. I’m at the bottom of section 526 behind the bowler’s arm and experience a touch of vertigo so Lord knows what it feels like for those who get there late and are compelled to make their way to the gods at the very top. The walkways at the rear are broad, the bar is vast and well staffed, food outlets are convenient and the city view is magnificent. Tourist buses must now discover this and do a deal with the Stadium Management Authority to take visitors there on non-match days. The escalator is efficient getting people into the ground and out of it but annoyingly works only one way for half the day. Smokers beware! Two lifts are on the western side only and appallingly slow.

 

Day two I try level 3 (which is more like level 1), a much lower more immediate section for watching cricket or football to come. However, the feeling experienced there is of being boxed in – claustrophobic. Getting to a toilet is ridiculous as you have to push your way through a crush of drinkers in the Neil Kerley and Peter Carey bars. At the lunch break the exit from seats is merely a shuffle so the mind boggles at what would happen in the event of potential catastrophes like a fire or a bomb scare let alone an individual needing swift medical assistance.

 

I put up with the vertigo on days three and four.

 

Play on the final morning begins at 10.40 and four minutes later before the Barmy Army have finished singing Jerusalem Stuart Broad is caught from a weak hook off Peter Siddle for 23, the third batsman to fall in this way in the innings. Mitchell Johnson bowls from the northern end – almost irrelevant to call it Cathedral End now – and the Army strikes up

Mitchell Mitchell gives away

            Mitchell Mitchell gives away

and I guess they’re referring to the wayward Johnson of the past and his propensity to give away runs. Matt Prior has been experiencing a run drought since the end of England’s New Zealand tour at the end of last summer and has started the day on 31. He peppers the boundaries to raise a much needed half-century just after 11 o’clock.

 

At 11.10 the Army sing God Save Your Queen, a version of their anthem to get up our noses. They’ve been doing this for twenty years now and it’s all rather hollow. Five minutes later Swann departs to Johnson, Prior pushes on to 69 before falling to Siddle and Panesar is caught off Ryan Harris. The game ends within the hour. England’s 312 is their highest score in the series and the form of Michael Carberry and Ian Bell in a dismal first innings and Joe Root, Kevin Pietersen and Prior in the second offer a small glimmer of hope for England in  Perth. However they need a big innings from skipper Alastair Cook in the match starting in four days time or the series over.

 

An English win would require a huge turnaround in form. For now the kangas are truly hopping.

 

 

Bernard Whimpress

© 9 December 2013

About Bernard Whimpress

Freelance historian (mainly sport) who has just written his 40th book. Will accept writing commissions with reasonable pay. Among his most recent books are George Giffen: A Biography, The Towns: 100 Years of Glory 1919-2018, Joe Darling: Cricketer, Farmer, Politician and Family Man (with Graeme Ryan) and The MCC Official Ashes Treasures (5th edition).

Comments

  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Bernard totally agree re the swiping of the members card in the southern stand absolutely ridiculous and your other point re the lifts and toilets is spot on also
    The all nations batting today lacked heart and common sense I would not take ,
    Broad , Swan and , Anderson to war . While there are still question marks re our batting there is far more re there’s it would be a staggering comeback by the pomms and extras from here . Thanks Bernard

  2. Steve Fahey says

    Thanks Bernard, a great effort to saddle up all 5 days.

    A spineless effort by England this morning. Surely you look at the weather and contemplate the possibility that you might only be required to bat for 30 or 40 overs instead of 90, so dig in for the long haul. Instead they played like it was a T20. Which quite probably is the cause of many batsmen these day not being prepared and/or able to switch rears into wicket preservation mode as Du Plessis and De Villiers did so magnificently 12 months ago.

    A strange day in cricket – what are Victoria doing with Maxwell at 3 (and indeed persisting with the doomed idea of Finch as a four-day opener ?) No wonder they are second from bottom despite having a decent playing list.

  3. Barry Nicholls says

    Good piece Bernard. I agree i think the multiple swiping is overkill. I enjoyed the new adelaide oval experience.
    Media centre is certainly very plush.

  4. I think you are being very tough on the Englishmen. They are real gents in my experience.
    Today is the Avenging Eagle’s 21st+ birthday. When I asked her what she would like, she said for you to not spend all day watching the bloody cricket and for me to not have to put up with Kerry OKeefe on the car radio when we go out.
    Game was all over by the time we had finished breakfast here in WA.
    Thanks Alistair – you are real toffs. Now did I tell you its my birthday coming up…..

  5. Tony Roberts. says

    Days late in seeing this, Bernard, but surely Adelaide is the right place to install a one-way escalator inside the Oval’s new stands. Anyone who has ever driven (or hoped to) on Adelaide’s Southern Expressway (only in before lunch, and only out afterwards) will have no problem working that one out.

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