The death of South Australian cricket
Adelaide Oval’s long serving curator and the artist behind many a summer masterpiece has suggested that drop-in pitches might have to be looked at as a pay-off for the redevelopment of the Adelaide Oval.
Many of you will be familiar with Burdett’s work, he nearly always produces the same pitch; beautiful to bat on for the first two-three days but as the cracks start to appear the quick’s get a bit of assistance and the spinners get a lot of turn. One could say, it is perfect for cricket, indeed Adelaide has only seen two drawn Test’s since 1991.
His suggestion of a drop-in pitch mightn’t sound so terrible, the MCG uses one for example, but after seeing the track in Delhi in the recent ODI game between India – Australia, the ICC should consider scrapping them altogether until there is a guarantee of their quality.
However, what really irks is the reasoning; the city’s two AFL clubs Port and the Crows who mightn’t approve of such a hard centre area. Two teams who have never played there and yet they might get to make such a fuss that the pristine Adelaide wicket will be no more?
Now let me make this clear. I have nothing against the sport of Aussie Rules, I am a South Australian, an avid Crows fan and a cricket lover, so I feel I’m certainly in a position to call this one and quite simply.
This has to be the worst thing that has happened to South Australian cricket and football in, well, ever.
That the SACA and the SANFL – South Australia’s administrative bodies for cricket and Aussie Rules – have never been best friends is no secret, indeed they have quite happily co-existed and not spoken for decades since the SANFL built Football Park – capacity 50,000+ – in West Adelaide as a home for football.
Now, apparently Footy Park is crumbling and Adelaide Oval is in need of a major overhaul and we need a multi-purpose-draw-card stadium RIGHT NOW. Says who?
My last time at Footy Park was two years ago and unless they’ve since ceased all maintenance it’s hard to see the basis of the argument, it wasn’t falling apart then, surely it’s not now?
One must keep in mind that Adelaide isn’t like Melbourne (where the chief driving force behind this redevelopment, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou sits on his throne), or Sydney, it is for all intents and purposes a big country town. Public transport is useless, everyone drives and the highways and roads do a pretty good job of getting people to their destinations.
So having Footy Park in West Adelaide, a short distance off Port Road is no problem, indeed getting to the Adelaide Oval has always proved more challenging as its location, just north of the CBD, doesn’t exactly offer a plethora of parking spaces.
Another advantage for Footy Park is that it could certainly be redeveloped and better parking facilities could easily be erected, again this will prove all the more difficult at the Adelaide Oval which does have space surrounding the ground but no real transport infrastructure.
My last trip to the cricket in Adelaide was about three years ago and while I realise that the ground is old and redevelopment was always going to be necessary, it can’t come at the expense of its history and beauty.
The Adelaide Oval is a cricket ground first and foremost. That means having a centre square that is suited for cricket. It means a big old scoreboard. It means the Members stand and the hill where thousands spent their summers growing up.
So why change what has been working for decades? Why bring together a couple who can’t stand each other?
Easy; this way Mr Demetriou gets to keep his hands in his very deep pockets and look the peacemaker, Mr Rann gets some media attention that isn’t about his adulterous behaviour and Adelaide gets a possible World Cup stadium for the 2018-22 bid.
Instead of Demetriou bringing the SACA and SANFL together, he should realise this problem should have been solved by the AFL.
Football Park was built by the SANFL back in the 70s when it was the state’s dominant league. When the battles between Sturt and Port were epic, when Glenelg were a good, consistent team and Woodville-West Torrens were still Woodville and West Torrens.
Now, 18 years after the Adelaide Crows into the AFL and the league is poor, the games are all about the juniors coming through for the next AFL draft or the Crows and Power players not picked in the senior side – it’s slow death cause by the AFL.
The SANFL cannot afford the expansion that Footy Park so desperately needs. Were it not for the AFL it surely would yet Demetriou doesn’t care, as long as the SANFL keeps turning out players for his league, provides the two clubs with a place to play their reserves and he doesn’t have to open the AFL coffers – he’s a happy man.
Rann’s situation is a joke, announcing this less than two weeks after public allegations against the SA Premier of having an affair and just a few months before the next election.
The money has only been made available to put the state on the map with some sick hybrid idea that will never work, it is in part a bitter reaction to losing the Grand Prix to Melbourne, and in part the greed and guile of two powerful men.
Had half of the $450 million gone to the SANFL, expanding Footy Park to 65,000 would have been easy and the initial modest plans of the SACA to improve the Adelaide Oval to a capacity of 36,000 would have been achievable with just $100 million.
Instead, South Australian’s have had a deal shoved down their throats, engineered by a Victorian and rubber-stamped by a Premier in crisis.
It’s a sad, sad day for South Australia.
Watch Glenn Mitchell's wrap of the second Test, where Australia were victorious early on the final day, winning by 218 runs and taking a 2-0 series lead into the third Test in Perth.
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