MCG Test, Australia v India – Day One: Sisters Day Out

26th December 2014
MCG
Yvette Wroby
Thirty four years ago I went to my last (and first ever) Test Cricket match, enduring only an hour and not seeing a ball bowled, in an overheated Members seat, probably a 40 degree day, still in the sun at 9.30, and fainting by 10. Useless cricket spectator then, but not this day.

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First the cold southerly winds, and then the hot sun, Denise and Yvette.

I came with everything I would need for a day that would last beyond 30 minutes. The weather was “just the opposite” to quote the BBC’s version of Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennett. It was chilly and cold, with rain threatening in the morning. Sunshine won out, but the cold southerly was with us all day. I had my thermos of peppermint tea, my St.Kilda blanket, socks just in case it got too cold, t-shirt in case it got too hot, my winter coat (light but warm), my knitting, my pen and paper to take notes, water, phone charger and of course, my radio. I was SO organised, and yet managed to walk out of the house and drove to Malvern Station with my IPhone firmly attached to the power point in my kitchen. If I went home to get it, I would miss the first bounce (first ball? – old habits die hard – Ed). The decision was easy. My sister Denise had her ticket, so we would just meet there and she could let my Mum Elfie and kids know that I was literally out of touch for the day.
I joined the steady walk of cricket fans from Richmond Station, being diverted to the non-Bunton Ave exit as it was so crowded from train loads of cricket fans. It was a fast walk along Swan Street and over the bridge, and then to Gate 3, up one floor to very nice seating one level up. I was on the Aisle, having a position on the wing (in football terms). We couldn’t get the tickets in the area John Harms recommended, and so this was the next best and pretty bloody good. (The recommendation was to be at the wicket end, and here, we couldn’t see the speed of the ball between the wickets but could watch the results.)
Denise joined me not long after. I’d arrived to the sound of the Qantas choir, the girls lined up at the opposite end of the ground from us. Then they walked around to where the other festivities were about to commence, the teams entered, the Welcome to Country was given, and anthems sung, and Australia came out to bat (having won the toss).
I was already emotional to be here with Denise. We’d watched on TV and listened on the radio for years, but we were here in the flesh, dealing with the cold southerly wind and the beginning of a great day.
The MCG looked magnificent, and the Australian innings started with a more careful opening partnership, quickly interrupted when in the second over David Warner was out for a duck. Not quite what was expected from our regular big hitter, and you could see disappointment in his posture as well as enormous relief from Dhawan who caught it and Yarav who bowled. Maybe this Test would be very different indeed.
Rogers and Watson had other ideas, and they, and the crowd settled, as the Australian team began to slowly build. That was the theme of the day, slowly, slowly build an innings. No hit and run cricket, but good solid Test Cricket of building, run after run, steady and masterful. The bowlers worked hard and consistently, not helped by a dropped catch off Watson’s innings and subsequent missed opportunities for the Indians. Very slowly, with only 2 runs after 18 minutes.

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The magnificent MCG

It was cold up in the stands, the blanket came out, as did Denise’s scarf around my neck, and I succumbed to socking up my feet. As the bowlers Shami, Yadav, Ashwin bowled through the day, with help from Sharma and Vijay, the morning went. It was lunch and the two batsmen had reached their 50’s and were looking good. Denise had already bought expensive but yummy hot chips and more water for me. The pen and paper had been put to use, and the knitting was out.
We pondered the cricket and knitting, and wandered if we were the only two people in the whole MCG to be knitting as we watched. We have both been knitting since we were young children, and could do it with only cursory glances at our work and our main attention being on the men in the field. The radio’s plugged into our ears, informed us of the subtleties before us, the wonderful ABC and their terribly intelligent analysis and variety of voices. Many people had the TV version plugged to their ears, but there is nothing like ABC Cricket Commentary.
Denise took swigs from her hip flask, just like our father did at the footy, his treat was brandy while Denise forwent her first choice gin and tonic (too cold) and hit the cognac she bought instead. The Indians fans below added colour and the rhythm of the day, with fabulous drumming. Directly across from the members is what we imagined to be the old Bay 13 perhaps, it was where all the beach balls and waves originated, the fire and fury and alcohol fuelled enjoyment. They were in the sun most of the day. A lot of yellow to be seen, perhaps it was the steadying influence of yellow clad police? I wondered whether Bay 13 (or that playfulness of that area) was a direct correlation to being opposite to the members stand – the counterbalance, the contrast, the Ying to the Members Yang. We joined in on the wave as it came through several times over the hours, and finally understood the boo-ing – the members mostly didn’t join in the wave and were boo-ed each time as the wave just skipped along without them. Balls that went on the ground were deflated. Boundary staff sat sideways so they could watch the sections between themselves and the next security man. There was so much energy, with those around us getting up frequently to get more beer or food. A constant moving that mirrored the constant activity on the field.
Lunch came with Watson and Rogers settled, but not long after lunch the scenery changed yet again, with two quick wickets for India after India was stifling the run rate of the Australians. In the 37th over, Rogers was out for 57, edging to Dhoni, bowled by Shami and the Indians were up and about. And then in the next over, Ashwin bowled to Watson and Watson was caught LBW, for 52. Was this the change India was looking for? Some good quick wickets and maybe they’ve changed the game??
But the year of the Smith was to continue, and Smith came in and settled the side, first with Watson and then with Marsh. Watson left feeling deflated, as did Rogers. They both needed a damn good innings for their souls, and though this was an improvement, it wasn’t the long haul they had hoped for. We had Steve Smith, thankfully for that. This new partnership lasted 23 overs, again, slow and steady. Not one day or 20/20 smashing happening here. This was patient. This was looking for opportunity. This was art.
I began watching, knitting and thinking of the art of cricket. How art and cricket shared some language and some of the dream like qualities. There were strokes, out there big solid lumps of shaped wood, while in my studio there were strokes of brushes or pens, strokes of shape and colour. There were zones, different areas, members, reserved, media, fours, sixes, ones and two’s. Cricket and art shared the aim of getting results, but the results were both of steady, slow work towards a particular aim, one a good score or number of runs, or lots of wickets, the other of creating something unique or meaningful. Both started with blank canvases, and the wonderment, what will happen in this space. What will emerge? What will the story be? How will the story develop?
Both art and cricket require patience, creativity, opportunity, taking risks and remaining steady, concentration, movement, light, darkness, positioning, sunlight and shadow, position, distance and close-ups, perspective, effort, precision, noise and adventure. Some magic thrown in, with drama and theatre, a lot of luck and skill.
Both had the artist/cricketer and the viewer/spectator, one set who creates and the other who appreciates, and both sides create the atmosphere and the particularities that is either a piece of art or a day at the Boxing Day Test.
Then further afield, there is the art of the groundsmen who have created a wicket and grassy areas that, from one floor up, look like a wonderful patterned patchwork, where a red ball can roll fast or dribble slowly. There is all the blue and orange and white of the Indian fans, the flags and the drums and the noise and song, and the green and gold of the Australians, the flags, the cheers, the colour. There is the art of the spectator, what do we bring, what do we wear, how do we watch? There is Cricket Australia and the young children who play small games of cricket or do exercises out in the middle during lunch. There are the dressing up of the crowd, all the “Where’s Wally” lookalikes, big floppy sun hats and shoulders of girls burnt in the sun. Big hats, little hats, old and young.
The feeling of the day, I continued to contemplate, had a flavour all of its own. People experience it so differently, some people behind us stayed standing at the bars, others like the young man in the seat in front, slept on four seats when it all got too much.
The sun slowly made its way to where we sat, and though I could begin to shed the warming clothes, Denise and I are second generations Australians, and our skins were meant for the softer sunlight of Europe and not the harsh particular Australian steady, burning, ozone penetrating rays.
So we intended to shift upstairs, but Denise asked the staff if we could sit in the two seats reserved for wheelchair access and companions. There was only 90 minutes of play left, and these two sweet men said it was OK, so we settled in our new, roomy seats just around from our original seats, sans the strong sun, and watched Marsh depart c Dhoni B Shami for 32 and Josh Burns make an entrance. The crowd were up and about, very happy to cheer on the new young man, with every “first” cheered and supported him for his 10 overs while he got 13 runs before he was out c Dhoni b Yadav.
Haddin, the old trooper, came in as a steadier to support his captain and thankfully, the two of them cautiously got to the 90th over for 5/255. There were 69,990 people there to watch, less than I had expected. The sun was almost upon us again at just past 5.30 when the game was wrapped up and what was left of the supporters began to head home.
It had been a wonderful day. We’d eaten (me way too much), we’d chatted and relaxed and enjoyed, we’d seen 5 wickets taken, some steady bowling and batting work, we’d watched the crowd and listened to the radio, we’d observed those around us and those performing out in the middle. I’d even got a bit of knitting done. We hugged goodbye, Denise was going to walk into the city to catch a tram, and I headed back with the crowds to the station. The train arriving 15 minutes later was empty before the cricket crowd changed all that. I sat next to a mother and two adult children, Eritreans as it turned out. They asked me why it suddenly got very crowded. And we were off and running.
I explained about the cricket and the MCG. I asked them about what sport Eritreans followed, of course, soccer (football) and basketball and running, and before they got to Hawksburn Station (3 stops) I had given the daughter my card and said that if they contacted, I would take them to their first Aussie Rules football match, a must see in the city of Melbourne. So the Eritrean Muslim family and the mad Jewish sports nut may meet again in the future. Once again, life had intervened to end a perfect sporting day for yours truly.

About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.

Comments

  1. Hi Yvette,

    It’s great to read your interesting article and I am glad that you and Denise enjoyed the cricket game.

    If it were warmer in the morning, watching the game would be perfect and Australia would play with fast start.

    Your describing cricket and art is interesting and true. I am commenting with listening to live A-League football match of Melbourne Victory versus New Castle Jets and at this stage, both clubs are scoreless. We need to be patient with soccer too, I think.

    I hope you enjoy watching the reminding of the Test Cricket.

    Yoshi

  2. Peter Fuller says

    Yvette,
    It is lovely to enjoy your perspective. I can certainly relate to the detailed preparation needed for a day at the G, whatever the time of year. It was three degrees on Boxing Day morning out my way.
    I’m somewhere in between Yoshi beginning to learn about cricket and eager to understand its fascination and Almanackers like Luke Reynolds, ER, Smokie, Gigs, Bob Utber and John – knowledgeable and absorbed by the game. I tend to take a passing interest but enjoy keeping myself informed by way of the Almanac commentary team.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Wonderful Yvette. Loved the art/cricket comparison. Hope you don’t leave it 34 years to go to the cricket again!

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