Thursday 6 August 2009
I was allowed out again on my own today. You can probably guess the destination – The Sydney Cricket Ground!
Some great names played cricket for New South Wales – such as Fred “The Demon” Spofforth, Victor Trumper, Don Bradman, Tiger O’Reilly, Keith Miller, Alan Davidson, Richie Benaud, Steve Waugh and Glen McGrath, to name but a few!
Like Melbourne, most of Sydney’s major sporting stadia (except the Olympic Stadium) are gathered together in a discrete area – Moore Park. My tour included the Sydney Football Staium too, which was where we started. This is the nearest of the stadia to Paddington suburb, and has been built into the ground, to reduce the environmental impact, so the pitch is about 15 yards lower than street level.
This means that the players’ tunnel slopes downwards and enables them to hit the ground running at some pace; of course it also means that they have to climb back up that slope at half-time and the end of the game!
We then moved on to the Cricket Ground, via the state of the art indoor nets – each net has a different surface equivalent to those found in Australia, England, and the Indian sub-continent – and apparently matching light conditions to boot.
The pavillion is still the one built for the original ground for the soldiers at Paddington Barracks. The Long Bar (also known as the Bradman Bar) provides a fantastic view of the ground (as long as you stay sober). The dressing rooms are of similar age and have the usual Test Match honours boards which made interesting reading. The home dressing room has one-way glass (so you can see out, but not in), except for one panel of the door. This was apparently broken by a certain left-hand opening batsman who has recently retired from Test Cricket and also publishes cookery books, who broke it on his return from the crease by way of expressing his dissatisfaction at getting out. There was no one-way glass immediately available, so clear glass was used by way of replacement.
Once the Sydney Swans AFL team had finished their practice, we want out on to the hallowed turf; it was a mess, but Danny, our guide, said that all the scuffs and marks from the AFL would be repaired in time for the cricket season.
We then walked over to the Trumper stand which used to be the infamous Hill. At the foot of the stand was a bronze of a character called Yabba who was a pretty constant feature on the Hill during cricket matches at the SCG between the two world wars. My favourite Yabba-ism was allegedly directed at the hated (by Aussies) England Captain Douglas Jardine during the notorious bodyline series in 1932/3; Jardine started brushing away the flies and Yabba shouted ”Leave those flies alone, Jardine, they are your only friends here”.