For those of you who don’t understand cricket, here’s a quick intro. When international teams compete, they call it a “test.” Each test can last up to five days. Teams have eleven players, each of whom bat in turn. You score runs by running back and forth between the stumps (1 run), hitting a grounder to the barrier (4 runs), or hitting it out of the park (6 runs). You bat until you get out, which means that good players can stay in all day and score a hundred runs (a “century”). The basic ways to get someone out are to catch a ball in the air, bowl it past their bat and hit the stumps, or hit the stumps with it while they’re running before they get there (like a force out in baseball). An inning lasts as long as it takes each team to go through all their members (basically, they get 10 outs).
In this particular match, Australia had batted first and scored almost 600 runs. South Africa were then up, but they only managed about 150. Australia then decided to go for the “follow on”, which meant that the teams’ batting order for the second inning was reversed. South Africa had to bat again, and if they didn’t score enough to reach Australia’s total (at least two innings have to be played), the game would be over. It wasn’t looking good for the tourists (the visiting side). It was a beautiful day, and I was ready to watch some cricket.
The Sydney Cricket Ground (the SCG) was much bigger than I expected. We were sitting in the Messenger Stand (i.e. the cheap seats), but here’s our view of the Members’ and Ladies’ Pavilions. The Members’ is the green-roofed building on the right, and the Ladies’ is on the left. The people in those seats wait for years and pay thousands of dollars to gain membership.
Here’s our view over to the left towards the giant scoreboard. The seats below it are new additions to the SCG. Previously the whole area was just Yarra’s Hill, and people would pay to sit on the lawn and picnic. I would’ve liked to have done that.
Ahh, it’s my handsome companions for the day. From right to left, that’s my Snookums (who you all know), Carrot (so named for his red hair and pale skin, which is why he’s all covered up), and Kenya (so named because that’s where he’s from).
Cricket play starts at 11:00 and proceeds til 1:00, when everybody breaks for lunch. During the forty minute break, the field was taken over by groups of “Kangaroo Cricketers”, which are little kids’ teams. They were so cute, hitting plastic balls off little tees. There were some older girls nearby as well, and they were so good that the stadium crew put them up on the scoreboard and the commentators started calling the action.
Here’s a shot of the game in action. The field is actually smaller than this angle looks; I’m pretty sure it’s smaller than a pro baseball field. At any rate, we had an excellent view of all the action.
At several times through the game, the scoreboard displayed a message that going on the field at any time was illegal and punishable by a $5000 fine. As we entered the afternoon, though, South Africa started to make a comeback and the same two batsmen were in for a long time. The spectators were hot, bored, and in several cases, drunk. One guy decided that two minutes of glory was worth the fine. He dropped his shorts and jumped the fence. Everything ground to a halt as twenty policemen rushed onto the field while this ding dong ran around the pitch. The cops eventually caught him and he was led off with the cheers of the crowd ringing in his ears.
Here’s me and my Snook, enjoying the sunshine. Cricket matches last til at least 6:00, which means seven full hours of sitting outdoors. Which is why I’m wearing the hat, and about six gallons of SPF 30+ sunscreen. 🙂
Like I said, the crowd really started to get restless in the afternoon. By 5:30, they were actively looking for other things to occupy them. These guys near us took it upon themselves to gather up every plastic beer cup from our section and stack them into a giant snake. The thing ended up being about seven feet long. Security guards kept coming over and confiscating parts of it, but then someone from another section would bring over a new pile to work with. Eventually, to chants of “Launch the snake!”, the whole thing was flung into the air and the cups went everywhere. It was a beautiful sight.
South Africa did indeed make a remarkable stand. We had expected the game to end on Day 3, but as I write this they’re still in on Day 4. Australia will still win fairly easily once they get up to bat, but at least it’s not a completely embarrassing defeat. And it was pretty fun to watch!