Sunday, December 29, 2013


4th Day, Sunday January 29th, 2013, at the MCG

I was listening to the crackly radio commentary at the Shop when I clearly heard Aggers announce there'd be free entry at the MCG after the lunch interval. Nothing doing at the Shop so come 1-15 I decided to close up and hurry to the ground!
I'd enjoyed the stimulating morning session : breakfasting outdoors at cafe on Fed Square with perfect view of the Big Screen. Amusing pre-match (featuring Bret Lee's chart-busting Indian music clip) and then half an hour of the match. Two great dropped catches by Alistair Cook at first slip says it all. First faux pas was diving across the wickie (as he did in Perth), second was a dolly in & out of what the commentator called hard hands. Both drops off Broad's bowling who looked pissed off & when next ball Rogers lifted him for a boundary, defeated. Couldn't happen to a nicer chap.
Jumped onto MCG special on Flinders Street which took me to the Tennis Centre end quick smart. Up the stairs & over the bridge, walking fast so as not to miss anything of the precious little time left. Found a seat slightly to the left of the Southern Stand end though at first difficult to see exactly where I was. I used to watch my cricket from the Northern Stand, uncovered in those days, to the left  of the Members. It's a total make-over!
Enough for me to sit down & absorb the atmosphere. Streams of cricket(ing) memories upon me. Realized I was sat next to four English gents, northern accents, subdued as they came to grips with their inevitable defeat.
The scene unfroze with crashing boundaries from Chris Rogers for his ton followed by Shane Watson for his fifty! Got to my feet to applaud with 35,000 others (40 thousand with the free entrants)… Barmy Army to the right of me, quiet all of a sudden. Forty-odd to win, not too much to shout about for the English now. Taciturn English follower's voice : "hope that'll shut them up for good now!"
Mexican wave surges around the ground, and --like the old days --the Members stand is booed for non-participation though a few of them had joined in!
Ben Stokes to Rogers --effortless cut for 4. Wayward heave by Rogers, makes no contact. It's as if he wouldn't mind going out right then to give Clarke a knock. And why not? Clarke's been the little general throughout.
Monty Panesar on from the Members End. As he prepares I recall sitting in the Southern Stand watching Steve Waugh batting against the West Indies --his wonderful steadying innings, so strong & straight.
Panesar bowls a gentle over, just turning his arm. And then it happens as I predicted --Rogers snicks to the wickie and Clarke's in! Rogers clapped all the way off. Wonderful innings, ironically an English innings...
Clarke & Watson approach one another as they do a little gardening, prodding bats into the wicket, basically sharing the joy of their triumphant situation…
Clarke is simply keeping the ball out, content to be there in the middle. (And how weird is the spider-cam, crazy sci-fi interjection in this ultimately traditional sport.)
Clarke demonstrates the most delicate of glances for a single. Watson repeats the
shot but with
power. A boundary, followed with full flowing straight heave. And then a great straight drive which Pietersen (looks like) fails to stop. As though he didn't really try (the story of his game)?
At the drinks break Australia have 16 runs to win. Opportunity to survey the ground --only by being here does one actually appreciate the colosseum it's become, which doesn't for one second diminish the electrifying atmospheres of Tests in the '70s when I was a regular at the MCG (Sheffield Shield & Tests)…
Stokes bowling to Clarke. A flashing cut for 4 which one applauds for its artistry, and then the big screen announces his 8000th Test run. Standing ovation only slightly less than those for Rogers' century & Watson's fifty. Something about the moment's excellence as compared to the greater statistics.
Twelve runs to win! Panesar to bowl what could be the final over!
After lusty hit by Watson, Clarke defends. He hasn't been in long enough to get away with anything. Clarke thinks : leave it to Watson…
Bresnan replaces Stokes at the Southern stand end. Watson hooks it high but two Englishmen contrive to mess up the catch. The cricket gods are smiling : it would have been an inglorious end to a good innings. Now Watson repeats the hit but straight this time. 4. Then a silly shot with 5 to win as though a 6 were desired! No need, no need! Another silly shot for a single.
Clarke requires a 4. He defends. Over!
Watson wants the big boundary --cant help himself!
Panesar fields badly off his own bowling --it's the story of the match. A single stolen. Another single through the fielder's hands.
Two runs to win.
Watson's hefty sweep for 4 and it's done.
All stand again, including the four elderly Englishmen inside of my row. Win lose or draw it's the way it's done. Around us the stands erupt. A chant of "4 Nil" starts up. When the Sydney Test starts the chant will be "5 Nil".
Walked around from the Southern to the Northern stand soaking it up.
Outside in the sunshine, welcome after the cool of the covered sections of the MCG, stop before the evocative bowling Shane Warne statue. Visitors posing for photos. Then join the crowds streaming out of the Park, --to Jolimont Station and, standing-room-only, home...

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