An Impossible Evening – The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Final

 

It was March 8, nearing twilight and balmy when we arrived at the MCG. My mind was full of questions: what sort of crowd would we get? (‘The Virus’ was just starting to dominate the news so I figured 45,000 at the most.) How would the Australian team cope with India’s spinners who had bamboozled them in Game One? What sort of show would Katy Perry present? (A fair question from one who had no knowledge at all of this singer.) What were our seats like and what sort of view would we have? And would I cope with the noise which six days earlier had assaulted my ears in Australia’s nail-biter against New Zealand? There were 3000 enthusiastic but subdued barrackers at the beautiful Junction Oval.

 

It took just a few seconds to realise that this was a very different event indeed.

 

Within a minute of finding our seats, most of my questions were answered. THE PLACE WAS THROBBING, with music, flashing lights, fireworks, ads, public announcements and people of every age and background chatting, laughing and hollering. It was actually like a very big party. Less than five minutes after arriving, we got our Katy Perry answer. Backed by hundreds of singers and dancers, she fairly rocked this wonderful stadium, the scene of so many great sporting events and for me a place of wonderful memories – Warnie’s hat trick in 1994, which I shared with our third son Tom on his thirteenth birthday, the 1971 Hawks premiership and Buddy’s two miraculous goals against the Bombers some 10 years ago, to name just a few. And, impossibly for me, this night was about to join that pantheon of memorable events, and all from excellent seats, a gift from son-in-law Christopher.

 

Yet, the word ‘impossible’ kept hammering at my brain. Why ‘impossible’? Firstly, because my love of cricket, which I owe to my father, has been exclusively for Test matches. The Big Bash I’ve always regarded as a laughable waste of time while one-dayers are rarely memorable. ‘Impossible’, secondly because, just a month before this night, only one Australian player, Elyse Perry, was on my radar. I actually knew nothing about this team. Yet on THIS day I was across the names, personalities and skills of each player. My ‘conversion’ had progressed rapidly.

 

As I sat there, soaking in the atmosphere and marveling at the size of the crowd, I asked myself just why I liked this team so much and why I really wanted them to win. I believe it’s a combination of factors: these young women play wonderful cricket, they exhibit a keenness to win without the distasteful win-at-all-costs of some men’s teams, they convey a real sense of fun, and they appear to be absolutely fair. Of course my sense of national pride was another factor behind wanting an Aussie victory.

 

So much happened on this non-stop-action evening. Alyssa Healy smashed the opposition bowlers to every part of the ground, including three sixes in a row; the announcers kept urging us to ‘make some noise’ yet their own booming voices were enough to drown out the stadium; there was loud music after virtually every ball – normally this would really irritate but, on this night, nothing could disturb my sense of well-being and sheer happiness; a wandering band of trumpeters and drummers erupted after every boundary, and there was a wandering dance troupe who seemed to have as much fun as the crowd. When Australia’s openers reached reached 100, the crowd exploded and, from that point, both the Australian batters and bowlers, especially the excellent Megan Schutt, were totally dominant. It was, in fact, a one-sided game as India’s batters, perhaps overwhelmed by the occasion and Australia’s brilliance, fell well short of the target of 185.

 

At game’s end there was wild jubilation in the stands. The music, impossibly, went up a notch and the inevitable fireworks lit up the now black sky. The Indian supporters showed good grace which reflected the spirit of this event. The ‘home team’ looked relieved and happy, but their celebrations were never over the top.

 

We left after a couple of Katy Perry’s songs because it would be a long train trip home. In truth, we weren’t her audience. Thousands of young people remained, loving every song and enjoying a quite amazing spectacle. What a memorable evening these young people had.

 

For us, it had been an unforgettable event, with countless memories to store away. What a night for women’s sport and for this great city – 86,000 turned up, another testimony to Melbournians’ love of sport.

 

And for me? I had just discovered a cricket iteration that was utterly different to Test cricket but with so much to offer.

 

Truly, the impossible became possible.

 

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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