Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The first day of the first test

The serious end of the cricket season in Australia always begins with the first test match of the year, and the first test match is always at "the Gabba", Brisbane's Woolloongabba Cricket Ground, home of the Queensland Cricketer's Club, and at other times the Brisbane Lion's who play a game called Australian Rules Football.

A year or two ago, about the time when a team of gentlemen from England visited to once again lose the right to call 'the Ashes' their own, the Australian Cricket Board decided it would be a good idea to clamp down on people having fun at the cricket, so they stopped the uncivilised practice adopted in some quarters, of arranging for a young lady to provide a drink waiter service during the match, in fact to make it doubly difficult beers could only be ordered in lots of two, and they were light at that. Not being one to imbibe alcoholic beverage, I wasn't too perturbed personally, but the banning of whole oranges or watermelons because they could be used to smuggle alcohol was probably going a bit too far, as was the blanket ban on packaged foods, canned drinks of any sort, musical instruments, cameras with "telescopic" lenses and generally having any sort of behaviour which could in any way be construed as having fun.

I even wrote to the Board at the time to suggest that perhaps the Mexican wave could be allowed occasionally under police supervision, or just maybe the occasional taunt of a non-racial, non-sexist nature could perhaps be allowed through to the keeper.

But the board knew better, it stopped selling tickets in blocks of more than four to disrupt unruly gatherings, it encouraged patrons to "dob in" anyone who's behaviour was mildly annoying, anonymously, by SMS.

In year three of this new regime, only two beach balls were confiscated, and the Police had to quietly talk to some of the Milo kids to urge them to curb their enthusiasm, but by and large we could have slept untroubled for much of the day.

I can't recall a test match day with large sections of grandstand vacant before and while I suspect someone in a board room somewhere is blaming the harsh economic times for the lack of attendance, I was sorely tempted to SMS the hot line and complain about the Kiwi supporter wearing the black shirt of the New Zealand Baaa-rmy Army.

Barracking along partizan country lines needs to be stamped out in the interests of the game, that should take care of the rest of those of us who bother to turn up.

I'm sure the Board will blame the empty seats on a lack of interest by the public in games against New Zealand, and they have a point. On the last night of the test, Suncorp Stadium could only squeeze in 55,000 disinterested fans for a Rugby League match between the same two countries!

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