Australia v New Zealand – Adelaide Test Day 1: What’s the fuss?

This is one of those days. One of those days you want to tell your grandkids about… if you get them. At least I have procreated, so that’s a start. I’ll be able to tell these prospective grand progeny I was at the first ever day/night test. I expect these imaginary gingers will look at me nonplussed. Their potential parents do, so why the heck not?

My grandpa used to tell me his story of being at Adelaide Oval during the Bodyline test. Such a thing of legend was it that apparently every person in Adelaide and their dog was there. The barking must have been unbearable. They almost had no option but to jump the fence such was the relative attendance at the ground. Today won’t be like this. It is really no big deal.

The lunch session

The day starts with lunch at the Adelaide Uni Blacks with an assortment of Almanackers (do we have a collective noun) – a mere hoik to cow corner from that welcoming eggshell of a ground. Lehmo and Damien Fleming ably provide the entertainment, enhanced by liberal dosages of our bubbly Croser friends. Fleming delivers a solid spell of comedy bowling which in a weird way undersells how good his record actually was. The lunch possibly extends as long as the Croser holds out, which meant the historic first pink ball is forgone. Williamson batting, so an entertaining afternoon/evening still in prospect.

MJ Guptill lbw b Hazlewood 1 – New Zealand 1-7

Eventually make it into the stadium, locate some old friends and some new ones (a cracking bunch of New Zealanders over for a few days of the test), sit down beer in hand, Mitch Starc puts a full one into Williamson’s pads.

KS Williamson lbw b Starc 22 – New Zealand 2-59

Batting is difficult. Not everyone has the skill to nick the first ball through to the keeper like I did the night before for the Almanac XI. I also bowled the losing last ball and pulled my left hamstring so we might just leave that story there. Latham and Taylor bat purposefully to take New Zealand to tea (the first break) at 2-80, Latham bringing up his half century.

The atmosphere around the ground is impressive. As much as the tops of the stands are relatively empty, 47,000 scan their barcode into the ground. It’s a perfect lesson in test cricket and why people go. Other than the obsessives behind the bowler’s arm, we do not want numbered seats because test cricket is a social beast. People want to catch up with friends, they want to chat between balls. All of the people holding tickets for the upper reaches of the stands, myself included, are at the lower levels having a beer and a chat. The hill is particularly well populated. The usual background hum of conversation is more swarm like than usual – that’s a good thing.

The difficult second session

After tea, we locate the decent beer (the beer available at most outlets is tasteless swill and it’s not even tasteless South Australian swill. A ‘craft beer’ vendor has to be located some stroll away. I reckon if it is made by one of the world’s largest breweries by definition there is nothing craft about it). It’s still difficult to bat but Taylor starts to hit his straps. Three overs in Lyon tricks Latham into cutting and almost missing. Nevill a good take, confirming Australia has the right keeper.

TWM Latham c Nevill b Lyon 50 – New Zealand 3-94

The next over Taylor misses his straps and feathers one through to Nevill off Siddle – the wheels are falling off the NZ tour bus.

LRPL Taylor c Nevill b Siddle 21 – New Zealand 4-98

Smith immediately brings Starc on to have a crack at the two new batsmen and McCullum gives Nevill his third catch in as many overs off three different bowlers.

BB McCullum c Nevill b Starc 4 – New Zealand 5-98

Santner, on debut, and Watling (I explained to our Kiwi friends what BJ means in Australia) steady the leaky boat and take up most of the middle session putting on a 40 run partnership. Santner can bat (I’m sure the NZ selectors were waiting for my opinion) and compiles a compact 31 before Starc rearranges his stumps for him free of charge in his last fit act for the game.

MJ Santner b Starc 31 – New Zealand 6-142

Watling and Craig last a few overs before Lyon more gently rearranges Craig’s stumps.

MD Craig b Lyon 11 – New Zealand 7-164

Watling and Bracewell see New Zealand through to dinner (or whatever you want to call the big break).

The night bit

When they generously dolloped $500 million of tax payers’ money into the new Adelaide Oval, they must have had a contract with a sunset clause. Every time the stadium is in the twilight we seem to get a stoking sunset – and stonk this sunset does.

One of the major concerns when considering a day/night test must have been how feral the crowd would get post dinner. Short answer is no worries at all. No doubt there is a level of intoxication but it is well enough natured. It appears the most heinous crime committed by patrons is sticking one empty cup inside another… repeatedly. I understand why that can get you evicted because… well… just because, ok. No doubt there’s a reason why authorities are so threatened by empty beer cups.

Another few post-dinner overs and Australia wraps up the New Zealand innings – highlight being Bracewell becoming Siddle’s 200th test wicket. Tim Southee hits a few gooduns and puts one into the outer, well caught by a spectator who becomes the celebrity of the evening.

BJ Watling c Smith b Hazlewood 29 – New Zealand 8-184

DAJ Bracewell c Burns b Siddle 11 – New Zealand 9-194

TG Southee c Warner b Hazlewood 16 – New Zealand 202 all out

With the evening the batting only gets more difficult – the ball hoops and seams. Warner never looks in and eventually is good enough to get out, confirming that impression.

DA Warner c Southee b Boult 1 – Australia 1-6

Burns and Smith soldier on in difficult circumstances. It is great to watch. After 10 overs of enthralling cricket Burns eventually loses his bails to the consistent but deceptively unthreatening Bracewell.

JA Burns b Bracewell 14 – Australia 2-34

Smith and Voges struggle through the last nine overs with McCullum swinging his bowlers around almost as much as the ball. Santner gets a run before Craig and intrigues with his action (his lack of a hop, not suggesting anything dodgy there). The night is complete when there is a Bob Utber sighting on the big screens (potential sponsor tie-ins beckon) and Australia eventually uncomfortably trudges off at 2-54.

The posterity bit

I’m likely furiously agreeing with everybody else today but the first iteration of the day/night is an unremarkable success. Despite the hoo-haa it just feels normal and right. The pink ball does a much better job of being a cricket ball than this Spring’s reds. Adelaide Oval had its largest single day test crowd since the Bodyline series. The only way this could have been a more successful South Australian event is if newly inaugurated President of the Republic of Australia, Barrie Robran, was paraded around the ground in a Farmers Union Iced Coffee carriage pulled by the Coopers Clydesdales. That would certainly pull a crowd.

About Dave Brown

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


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    This told me more about the day than my Satdy morning paper did, which petered out after the second session according to their scoreboard.

    You left off the bit about Barrie tossing out SA State Team flavoured Amscol Footy Colours to the adoring crowd; dream big Dave.

    Being there on Day 1 will go into Adelaide folklore as you said, but pales into insignificance against my being at the first SANFL game at Footy Park back in 74 – oddly, my kids aren’t too impressed by that story either. Surely they’ve heard of Tom Zorich.

    I’ll bet the last O-Bahn of the evening was a jovial conveyance.

  2. Cracking report. Cracking test match. 3 days of cut and thrust is much better than 5 of dross. Particularly liked “deceptively unthreatening”. Sounds like your bowling on Thursday was more “unthreateningly deceptive.”
    I think My Gal Sal should be pulling the carriage, with Lindsay Head driving. Barrie can stand in the back with Blighty and wave.

  3. Great report of the cricket and the spectator experience Dave. You captured the details for us. It was excellent on television too.

    Reassuring that red or pink, day or night, the beer cup snake lives on. The head of security at Adelaide Oval no doubt quoted Macbeth late Friday, “We have scorched the snake, not killed it.”

    Well played sir.

  4. Thanks for the comments. That’ll teach you for getting the country edition, Swish. Zorich still a prominent name Elizabeth way. I was sensible enough to be on the Obahn a couple of hours before the last bus so it was much more restrained than your usual Big Bash conveyance.

    My bowling defies description, PB, although I suspect unthreateningly undeceptive would be close to the mark. I like the way the Robran concept is developing.

    Thanks Mickey. Was sent a photo from the ground last night of a beer snake that would have got many evicted the night before. So perhaps security were being deliberately overly attentive on the first night.

  5. Like it Dave. Glad to hear the Almanac XI kept their record intact. Like yourself, my efforts in a previous match go best unmentioned.

    Nice report, BTW. :)


  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great report Dave and far more important than the game thank you to you and the almanac crew coming to the worlds greatest fc,Flem and Lehmo lunch funny how when word got around that the kiwis were batting ( or more correctly,Warner wasn’t ) that no one rushed from,Bob Neil 1 to Bob Neil 3.i must admit after cleaning up I went sraight to work so your report is the most info I have had on the day’s play !
    Hope all members of the Knackery who were there enjoyed the lunch !

  7. Thanks John, I believe the Almanac XI is most glorious in defeat and played my role to ensure that happened.

    It was a top lunch Rulebook, as evidenced by the fact we didn’t leave until the event staff took our chairs away. Your boss is a hard man.

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    Great stuff Dave. Extremely envious of anyone who was there, while the Blacks lunch also sounded fantastic.

    Agree with your thoughts on the definition of craft beer.

  9. Thanks Luke – I really don’t like the definition of craft as “not as crap as our usual product”. No doubt you like it substantially less.

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