DateLine: 8th November 2012
Ever since Kerry Packer’s World Series, cricket in Australia has always had something extra in store for cricket lovers all over the world. Possibly the peculiar nature of ODI cricket in Australia may have diminshed in popularity due to the modern phenomena of 20-over cricket. However, there are still many fascinating things about cricket in Australia, which makes it very special, and a treat for the cricket lovers all over the world.
The wonderful environment of the grounds makes it a real spectacle to relish even on TV screens. The huge lush green outfields with seagulls hovering around make it a wonderful showcase for natural beauty. A gull flying away to avoid the ball is always a joyous sight.
The huge modern stadiums, MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), WACA (Western Australia Cricket Association Ground) and GABBA (Brisbane Cricket Ground, Woolloongabba) alongside the antique history of SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground) are a nice blend of new and old venues. The 'southern-hemisphere' timings of start of play has made cricket in Australia a very unique experience for fans in Pakistan. The cricket starts very early in the morning and experiencing top class international cricket on an early chilly 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 (sub-continent) eyes' so used to watching the poor pacers bowl on docile pitches sometimes referred to as 'fast bowler graveyards'. Even medium pacers hitting goodish lengths in Australia become hostile, especially for sub-continental batsmen who may well hate or fear this pace and bounce but it is truly a spectacle for the fans to witness.
Another key feature of cricket in Australia is the huge versatility in the wickets throughout the country. Almost everyone gets a chance to have his say at some point of time during the Australian summer. It all starts at the GABBA in Brisbane; don't the fast bowlers just lick their lips in anticipation after looking at that pitch? The ball simply flies after hitting the deck. It is one of the quickest and the bounciest wickets around the world.
Then, moving to Adelaide Oval we see the batsmen rule. A batting paradise, where even the sub-continental 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. 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 now times have changed.
The glorious MCG starts off as a good batting track but later shapes into a turning one.
In historic SCG, the tweakers have their say big time. Over the years Shane Warne has warmed the hearts of millions with his extravagant leg-spinners and bamboozling flippers both in MCG and SCG.
The expert commentary team of channel 9 is one of the prime reasons for my special love of cricket in Australia. Tireless passion and exuberance of Tony Greig and Bill Lawry on every fall of wicket and boundary 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 together offer comments on captaincy, something that no academy or coach can teach.
Then we have that ageless wonder, Richie Bernard who keeps on thrilling season after season with his splendid comments. The chirpiness of Ian Healy and Mark Slater keeps you fascinated. Then there is the flamboyance of Mark Nicholas, an icing on the cake. I doubt that anyone can fabricate a better commentating team then this channel 9's legendary team.
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 long 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. Though 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 as it used to be.
I missed talking about the great Australian 'fighting spirit' till the very end 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 the cricketers. In the end, it all comes down to the contest, the primary charm.
In Australia the battle between bat and ball is pretty compared to the sub-continent where mostly batting prevails.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only. Umer loves to talk and write about cricket.
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