NYE in Adelaide Oval’s Bay 127

Late December 31, 2014 we watched Thunderball in our St Mary at Hill hotel room by the Thames. Outside, in the brisk, cider-drenched London night several million folk pressed onto the riverbanks to enjoy the fireworks while we slept. Twelve months on, having taken our boys to Europe, seen some more of Asia, and farewelled Singapore, we’re back in flat, kindly, unhurried Glenelg.

Tonight contrasts with the previous NYE: it’s hot, we’re in a public place, and we’re more likely to see Troy Bond than 007. We’re at Adelaide Oval. It’s the first time our boys have been to a cricket game of any sort.

I’m not sure why our local Twenty20 franchise is called the Strikers. Is Adelaide a particular focus for industrial discontent? If so, then what would The Don think? Would the Piping Shrikers be better?

We’re up against the Sydney Sixers, and I can’t uncover any deep etymology concerning their name either. To paraphrase Butch Coolidge from Pulp Fiction: “We’re an Australian cricket franchise. Our names don’t mean s**t.” Others under consideration were the Sydney Edge and the Sydney Rocks. I’m trying to locate meaning or symbolism where there is none. I need to adjust my headset.

We’re with some dear old friends in Bay 127 at the bottom of the Riverside Stand, so-named because it’s adjacent to the Torrens Lake.

This contemporary form of our game has many critics who suggest it cheapens the skills, offers no narrative arc, and is shamelessly disposable. But I prefer to celebrate the unique situation of there being three distinct versions of our sport. I’m not sure they’re cannibalising each other.

Whilst it’s now only an oval in name my memories dart about the towering arena like friendly, swooping phantasms: the astonishing Day 5 victory in the 2006 Ashes, Mark Waugh’s century on debut, and Australia’s one-run defeat when Curtly Ambrose dismissed Craig McDermott in 1993.

I hope tonight becomes the first in a lifelong succession of cricketing reminiscences for our boys.

*

Juggling the obligatory clappers, pirate hats, battery-powered sunglasses, Kentucky-fried poultry buckets, four and six cardboard signs we take our seats. I doubt this event will be carbon neutral. Following various drills, the Strikers warm up with a few dobs of the Sherrin, and I’m surprised that the Glenn McGrath tripping on a footy at Edgbaston in the 2005 Ashes catastrophe still hasn’t resulted in a Cricket Australia ban. Dizzy should lock the footy in his cupboard.

Since arriving we’d been blitzed by hip-hop music, pyrotechnics, peppy dance crews and other hyperventilating stimuli, and when the Sixers’ innings finally commences, I like that it’s with the placid spin of Travis Head. This is an old-fashioned island in an ocean of now, and I exhale. Three hours later Head would conclude the contest in superbly volcanic style.

Michael Lumb and Ed Cowan use the field restrictions well, and accumulate runs steadily. An early wicket seems as remote as former PMs Rudd and Gillard eloping. Alex Ross takes a great catch at deep extra cover which is reminiscent of Glenn McGrath’s 2002 classic against England. Nic Maddison strides to the wicket, but completes a sharpish U-turn courtesy of a golden duck.

Every delivery is punctuated with a stab of music ranging from “YMCA” to The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy.” Fortunately, we passed peak- “Eye of the Tiger” a few years back, and are spared. But the administrators might soon realise that our spectator experience is deficient in olfactory spurs, and install clandestine devices which at frequent market-researched points release perfumes called “Sweaty Protector,” “Freshly Mown Outfield” or, for the ladies, “Joe the Cameraman.”

Jon Holland comes on from the Cathedral end, and I’m terrified to check his player profile in case his nickname isn’t Dutchy. Adil Rashid bowls well in taking three wickets, and we stifle the Sixers’ scoring during the middle period of the innings before superannuant Brad Haddin hits out productively at the finish.

*

During the break I focus on the wonderful old scoreboard, and the Sixers’ team. I then amuse myself by constructing various adult-themed, 1960’s-styled sentences using the names Bird, Silk and Bollinger. I’d mentally written half a Carry On movie/ Warney biography when our eldest and I are sent to refill the water bottles.

We make our way to the Gary McIntosh Bar, where, hideously, the line for free water is longer than the queues for beer. As if this weren’t sufficiently cruel, we miss the Strikers’ opening two overs in which Craig Simmons and Tim Ludeman get us away smartly. A crowd highlight is former Redback skipper Johan Botha gifting us four overthrows off his own bowling from a delinquent return to the keeper.

Strikers captain Brad Hodge and Travis Head now come together. They’re circumspect, like a Cup jockey not going too early. Doug Bollinger’s bowling is more Cold Duck but still economical, and like Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation, the run-rate is climbing.

At the fifteenth over, they push the button. The chase is on. Sean Abbott takes a great catch at mid-wicket to dismiss Hodge, in the best public display of 2015 by any Abbott (onion-eating aside).

Alex Ross departs, and suddenly the run-rate is a call-the-fire-brigade seventeen. Rashid comes in with the Strikers requiring fifty-four. He faces a solitary delivery for two runs. Head then creates his narrative, a thrilling narrative which is action flick, boys’ own adventure and bed-time story.

As he clubbed the Sixers to and over the fence it became quickly clear that we were seeing something folkloric. Such was his energetic precision that each shot travelled exactly where he wished, as if guided by military software. There was a happy inevitability in the fluency with which he struck Abbott for three successive sixes, the last of which not only won the match, but also brought up his century, while closing the cricketing year.

He’d scored fifty runs in ten minutes. It was blistering punk-rock, but delivered with an elegance that Lords denizen Sir Mick Jagger would have appreciated.

Our boys smiled and waved their cardboard six signs and jumped up and down in their Bay 127 seats. They’d seen something remarkable, something rare.

I reckon they’d just had their first cricket memory.

About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello

Comments

  1. Grand Mickey. I have taken in remarkably little cricket – of all forms – over the Christmas break. But what I like about my 15 minutes of T20 is how much everyone – players and spectators – are enjoying the experience. Smiles are everywhere. Test cricket is so much po-faced intensity. At least in Chappeli and Border’s day it was genuine. Nowadays it’s faux.

  2. Brilliant Mickey. A first cricket memory for the boys well captured by you. One for them to read in the future.

  3. Thanks Peter. I suspect that like me you’re a purist, but it would be impossible not too get caught up in the energy and excitement- whatever these may or may not mean. I imagine it’s almost like a hobby for the players; a happy distraction from the serious, longer forms of the game.

    Cheers Djlitsa. We first watched some Twenty20 on TV in Singapore a few seasons’ back. It was fun to finally go. Hope all is good on the equator. Hope to cross paths down the track!

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Mickey having been lucky enough to witness the late,David Hookes 34 famous shield hundred and while I hate the franchises instead of state based sides I am glad I went last night as Travis Head innings was so reminiscent of Hooksey.what a game for your sons to make there debut hopefully a couple of hooked cricket nuts for ever and if we get converts for the overall game from,29 20 that is what matters and is fantastic thanks Mickey

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Looks like we left a day too early, got home in time to see bits and pieces and of course, the denouement.

    Did many people stay on and see the festivities on the Torrens afterward?

    I’m not yet a convert, but can see the attraction.

  6. Dave Brown says

    Although I’m almost certain I heard Eye of the Tiger last night. Converted to T20 last year and so glad we went last night – the new Adelaide Oval is just perfect for this type of event. It is a younger, more diverse (gender and ethnically) huge group of people enjoying themselves at domestic cricket. And for a family general admission membership less than $10 a ticket. Struggling to see how that could be bad for cricket.

  7. Thanks Malcolm. I watched the last part of the replay this morning. Head’s final shot is astonishing. It’s about a foot above his helmet and outside off stump but he hits it over mid-wicket. Remarkable. I think our boys are converts!

    Swish- we stayed for the festivities and it was great. Lots of light, music and for those who care, dancing! It was an apt conclusion. I’ll take Test cricket too but really enjoyed it. Interestingly it runs for about the duration of a footy match. It could be a little like that Katy Perry song you secretly think it quite catchy but won’t admit…Hope your quick trip home was fun.

    Dave- if Eye of the Tiger played I hope it was when I was in the lavatory, which, of course, is wholly appropriate! The cricket and our trip home by bus (the trams were heaving) was good-natured and people were respectful and courteous. It made me extra pleased to have been involved, and back home in Adelaide. We might even go next year!

    Thanks to all. Happy New Year!

  8. Luke Reynolds says

    What an outstanding effort by T.Head, utterly compelling viewing. The atmosphere, as almost always nowdays, at the Adelaide Oval looked electric. What a fantastic cricket debut for your boys. Well played Mickey.

  9. How good was Travis!
    I think one thing that they did get right was making it city based, maybe that is part of the appeal…”as long as we beat Melbourne and Sydney” is our aim!
    Sixers tomorrow night here – thanks for Adelaide in softening them up a little! We will be both wearing orange shirts, keep an eye out for us during the TV broadcast…

  10. You’re in fine form, Mickey.
    Love the lines throughout.

    Happy new cricket.

  11. Thanks Luke. Impossible to have scripted a more compelling match. Significantly different context, but I was reminded of Gilchrist against England at the WACA. Our boys have got off the mark in style.

    Greetings Vic. I was sceptical about the city-based franchise model but am now sold. It provides a telling point of difference to the state-based Shield and 50 overs formats. The dramatis personæ are varied too which gives it increased interest-value for the punters at home. Orange shirts? Are you supporting the Netherlands? I’ll scan the WACA for you both!

    Thanks E.r. The game is a wholly modern re-imagining, but I like lots about it. Initially, I felt sympathy for the bowlers as the terms of engagements are so drastically changed, but of course now the dot ball has increased currency, much like the maiden over of the longer form.

    Thanks to all.

  12. Trucker Slim says

    Hi Mickey

    What a game for the lads on their first excursion to the cricket!

    I’m off to the G tonight with my boy and his cousins. This will be my first 20/20 and I’m equal parts sceptical and curious. I reckon I’ll like it. I have recently heard a Justin Bieber song that I reckon is damn good (Love Yourself) and if I can get Justin Bieber I reckon I can get 20/20!

    Cheers

  13. Dave Brown says

    you’ll get both tonight Trucker Slim

  14. Peter Schumacher says

    I switched off after 15 overs. What a loser!

  15. Thanks Trucker. Hope you enjoyed it. Of course it’s superficial and doesn’t bare close thinking, but is a fun distraction. You’re the second knowledgeable adult who’s mentioned the new Bieber song this year. It is a new world! No doubt I’ll hear it soon. PS- enjoyed Courtney Barnett and Billy Bragg on Rockwiz last night.

    Peter- I’d be confident it’s all over YouTube etc by now.

  16. Gary McIntosh should request, nay demand that his name be taken off the bar bannered in his honour serving water. One would hope it was only West End Draught served, as well as passes into Lukes for post game beverages and brawls…..

  17. Poofta Bear says

    Yes, great memories for the boys. In years to come you can show them how to disguise the Smirnoff in the OJ. No queues then.

  18. Thanks Brash. You’ve nicely extended my point on the McIntosh Bar. Instead of a water tap, there should have been a cigar dispenser in honour of the great man.

    P Bear- Ah, those were the days. I’m not sure that whole watermelons aren’t now banned for this very reason. It’s like the authorities don’t approval of people eating fruit. They want us to devour our body weight in fried chicken.

    Thanks to all.

  19. kath presdee says

    I’ve been to the BBL three times and am yet to get a bucket hat. I’m partly relieved and partly miffed because I want to be in on the secret of how to get them.

    I find BBL is a great introduction to cricket for the kids; I hope this is the start of many cricket memories for your boys Mickey.

  20. Hello Kath- As near as I could tell there were three buckets for every spectator at the NYE match. As we would have had better sun protection from a hanky knotted in each corner we used the buckets for our rubbish, which seemed to include other KFC buckets. There was some sort of promotion at the ground urging the punters to wear a bucket, get their head on the big screen, and receive a prize. Or maybe the prize was getting their bucket- laden head on the screen. Not sure.

    I was almost inspired to don the bucket to mimick legendary American musician Buckethead, who apparently has played guitar with Guns N’ Roses and a band called Deli Creeps. His wiki page suggests he’s released 249 albums. This may not be accurate.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckethead

    Happily our boys are yet to make any connection between cricket and fried chicken; cultural or culinary. Long may this continue. Thanks Kath.

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