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The romance of Australian cricket: the view from the subcontinent

Umer Rana Roar Rookie

By Umer Rana, Umer Rana is a Roar Rookie

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11 Have your say

    We are only days away from the Boxing Day Test between the Australian and the Sri Lankan cricket teams on the great MCG. The down under summer is about to throw us its best: the Boxing Day and New Year’s Tests.

    Ever since Kerry Packer’s World Series, cricket in Australia has meant something extra to cricket lovers all over the world. Possibly ODI cricket in Australia may have diminshed in popularity due to 20-over cricket, but there are still many fascinating things about cricket in Australia which make it very special, and a treat for cricket lovers all over the world.

    The wonderful grounds make cricket a spectacle to relish, even on TV screens. The huge lush green outfields with seagulls hovering around hint at Australia’s natural beauty. A gull flying to avoid the ball is a joyous sight.

    The huge modern stadiums of the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), WACA (Western Australia Cricket Association Ground) and ‘Gabba (Brisbane Cricket Ground, Woolloongabba) alongside the antique history of the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) and Adelaide Oval, are a nice blend of new and old. The southern hemisphere timing makes cricket in Australia a unique experience for fans in Pakistan. Play starts very early in the morning, and experiencing top-class international cricket on a chilly early winter morning in Pakistan is simply matchless.

    There is no better sight in cricket than a fast bowler charging in, hitting the deck hard and making the ‘keeper take the ball with his gloved hands flung well over his head. That spicy pace and bounce offered by Australian wickets is a sight for sore (subcontinental) eyes, so used to watching poor pacers bowl on docile pitches referred to as fast bowler graveyards.

    Even medium pacers hitting goodish lengths in Australia become hostile, especially for subcontinental batsmen who may struggle with this pace and bounce. It is truly a spectacle for the fans to witness.

    Another key feature of cricket in Australia is the variety in the wickets throughout the country. Almost everyone gets a chance to have his say at some point during the Australian summer. It all starts at the GABBA in Brisbane; don’t the fast bowlers just lick their lips in anticipation looking at that pitch? The ball flies after hitting the deck. It is one of the quickest and bounciest wickets around the world.

    Then, moving to Adelaide Oval, we see the batsmen rule. A paradise, where even the subcontinental batsmen score in tons. South to the Bellerive Oval, Hobart, one finds a good true wicket for stroke play but not as flat as the Adelaide Oval. Moving to the western shores of Australia, the WACA wicket in Perth quickens the pacers’ heartbeats. The WACA has the quickest and the bounciest wicket of the cricketing world without a shadow of doubt. Once Sabina Park, Kingston, used to match it, but times have changed.

    The glorious MCG starts off as a good batting track but later shapes into a turning one.

    At the historic SCG, the tweakers have their say. Over the years Shane Warne warmed the hearts of millions with his extravagant leg-spinners and bamboozling flippers both at the MCG and SCG.

    The expert commentary team of Channel 9 is one of the prime reasons for my special love of cricket in Australia. The tireless passion and exuberance of Tony Greig and Bill Lawry at every boundary and fall of wicket adds a lot to the enjoyment of the match.

    The witty analysis of two of the greatest captains of all times, Mark Taylor and Ian Chappell always makes it an intriguing watch. Taylor and Chappell combined offer comments on captaincy that no academy or coach can teach.

    Then we have that ageless wonder, Richie Benaud, who keeps thrilling season after season. The chirpiness of Ian Healy and Mark Slater accompanies the flamboyance of Mark Nicholas, the icing on the cake. I doubt that anyone could assemble a better commentary team than this legendary group.

    Over the years, the tri-nation World Series has been the hallmark of cricket in Australia. It produced some of the greatest moments of ODI cricket. A solid streak of games presented a fine opportunity to the touring team to show its mettle, and every side in the world got that chance after a few years. May I lament that the World Series, which had a history of 30 years, was abandoned by Cricket Australia in 2008. Last year it was put together once more, but disappointingly it was a one-off event, and won’t be conducted on a regular basis.

    I missed talking about the great Australian fighting spirit and their never-say die-attitude, which has increased my romance with Australian cricket even more. Australia being a great sporting nation imparts an attitude as tough as old boots to its cricketers. In the end, it all comes down to the contest, the primary charm.

    In the subcontinent, batting often prevails. In Australia, the battle between bat and ball is beautiful.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • December 23rd 2012 @ 7:39am
      Johnno said | December 23rd 2012 @ 7:39am | ! Report

      Sadly cricket in Australia is now struggling. The BBL crowds and tv ratings are right down. Ashes, STH Africa, India, are drawcards in test cricket, but that is about it. Pakistan is the wild card team, but I worry about them as a test cricket nation if it will still be a priority.
      A strong Pakistan adds such an important dimension to test cricket, like a strong England is good for test cricket equally a strong Pakistan is too. Such a talented side, watching highlights of that Hobart test in 1999 recently t is still one of the best test matches ever.
      And that 1992/3 and 1996/7 ODI world series (with both Aust,west indies, Pakistan) was a joy to behold some high quality ODI cricket at it’s best. The cricket world would love nothing more than Pakistan fully established in test cricket again, sadly not sure it will happen.
      But Bangladesh is touring there soon so hope.
      But in Australia , as far as drawcards go, we need 4 teams( England,India,STH Africa,Pakistan), as NZ, West Indies, Sri Lanka, seem to weak now and don’t craw in the crowds.
      A strong New Zealand test team like in the 1980’s and early 1990’s defiantly would, but they are alas not consistent anymore, I know they won in Hobart , but that consistentcy has been lacking.

      Irleand would be a massive drawcard and I implore the ICC to do more for Irish cricket, as an Australia-Irleand 3 test series would rate well and get good crowds, so many Irish in OZ now. Irleand is getting a 1st class domestic scenic going now, so there is hope.

      But aussy cricket is in the twighlight zone, as is all test cricket globally, it has to modernise more, and the pitches in OZ have excluding the WACA this year have been a real let down overall. Hobart was an improvement, but Adelaide and the GABBA, the pitches there are exactly what is killing test cricket “Roads”.

      And ODI cricket should move to 35-overs, or 40-over innings.

      • December 23rd 2012 @ 11:12am
        Brendon said | December 23rd 2012 @ 11:12am | ! Report

        I’m with you on the 40 over game idea

        • December 23rd 2012 @ 2:15pm
          Shahid said | December 23rd 2012 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

          If ODI cricket of 40 overs/innings is enough to save its standard in Australia then I agree with your opinion.

          • December 23rd 2012 @ 10:09pm
            The Kebab Connoisseur said | December 23rd 2012 @ 10:09pm | ! Report

            It started out being 60 over cricket, then they dropped it to 50 due to Packer’s ad demands.

            They need to ditch the restrictions and make it 40 a side.

            20 over cricket is already in trouble.

            Interestingly test match cricket is still going okay.

    • December 23rd 2012 @ 11:12am
      Brendon said | December 23rd 2012 @ 11:12am | ! Report

      Great article, On a slightly different topic though, I’ve never understood why they don’t have one great fast bowlers wicket in each of the subcontinental countries. Surely that would improve the game for everyone? You would get some good quality fast bowlers from SL and India, the batsmen wouldn’t struggle as much outside the subcontinent, and the crowds I’m sure would love to see a big nasty Sri Lankan or Indian terrorising the Aussies or South Africans. India in Aus last year were a disgrace and looked like they wanted to hide every time someone bowled a short ball (Virat Kohli was the exception)….Seems a no brainer to me then to put some pace into one of the wickets in each of their respective countries.

    • December 23rd 2012 @ 12:46pm
      Midfielder said | December 23rd 2012 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

      20 20 & ODI is the future of cricket …test cricket as we know it is on life support …

      Crickets future lies in convincing people they have match fixing under control…

      • December 24th 2012 @ 9:32am
        hawker said | December 24th 2012 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        Disagree with your first statement (at least in this country)

        Agree match fixing is a massive issue in cricket

      • December 24th 2012 @ 11:47am
        Ken said | December 24th 2012 @ 11:47am | ! Report

        I think it’s more the case that 50 over cricket is on life support – 20 over cricket is taking over. Test cricket goes through peaks and troughs both here and elsewhere but I think it’s sufficiently different to keep surviving. The winner takes all battle is which limited overs game will triumph

      • December 24th 2012 @ 5:53pm
        Brendon said | December 24th 2012 @ 5:53pm | ! Report

        If test cricket dies, I won’t be watching T20, have your future

    • December 23rd 2012 @ 4:25pm
      Rahul said | December 23rd 2012 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

      I think the likes of khawaja in the men’s and Stalkar in the women’s competition will be great for the youngsters in the Sub continent community coming through the system, the number of people watching from Asian backgrounds will increase in Australia which is good for cricket here

    • December 23rd 2012 @ 10:31pm
      Ross said | December 23rd 2012 @ 10:31pm | ! Report

      Rahul agree with you mate, Khawaja in men’s cricket and Lisa in women are setting a great example for all Asian players trying to come through the system, well done to them both and for CA in letting them shine in their sports.

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