I had many comments about my last post. Trying to explain why cricket is not boring. A depressing number of you were likewise unconvinced. It made me depressed. It was a combination of your ignorance and my inept explanations. I tried to explain the game. That was stupid of me. The only people apart from foreigners who find cricket boring are those who only watch it on TV. You have never been at the cricket. That’s obvious.
You don’t go to the cricket to watch the cricket. You go to the cricket to be at the cricket. Being at the “G” (Melbourne Cricket Ground) for the Boxing Day test is a semi religious experience. You have 90,000 people mostly Australians who have gathered at this hallowed ground for one reason and one reason only. They have walked through the turnstiles to be part of an Australian cricket crowd. You are there to enjoy the larrikins and the one liners, the cricket itself is incidental.
When you are at the cricket you can’t see the cricket. It’s too far away. They are like little stick figures on a disturbed red ant nest. If you are going to be at the cricket and for some weird reason you want to watch the cricket you take a mobile device with a paid cricket app and subscription or you be completely primitive and crane your neck toward the grounds big screen if something ever happens.
It all starts with what people try to smuggle into the cricket, up their shirts and about their persons. More of that later. The main parts of a cricket crowd are the signs, the costumes, the barracking and the crowd participation.
The best sign I saw this year was “Kentucky Fried Poms”. There is nowhere around the ground where you don’t get a visual chuckle sooner rather than later. Every day is different and the signs evolve with the game.
The costuming started years ago when people bought watermelons to ease a blistering hot day, ate the inside out and wore the shells on their head. Wearing Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets is a Johnny come lately imitation. Since then cricket costuming has become magnificent, imaginative and truly entertaining. Those that are provocative and bordering on bad taste are smuggled in under the shirt.
Apart from signs the most common things smuggled in under your shirt are blow up beach balls, sex dolls and blow up sheep (If we are playing New Zealand). A released beach ball out on the ground is invariably followed by a fat unfit security dude trying to stab it with a penknife amidst fickle winds and jeers from the crowd.
A dejected batsman dismissed for a duck(no score) on that long lonely walk back to the pavilion will often look up to see someone in the crowd simulating sex with a blow-up sex doll. A clear and unambiguous message. If it’s a New Zealander it will be a blow-up sheep and the whole crowd will be going Baa…Baa…Baa!
This last test series a lot of little kids had Mitchell Johnson moustaches drawn on their faces. I loved it. That’s the true spirit of the game.
That brings me to the one liner’s. Somewhere in the crowd around you will be a true Aussie larrikin with a fantastic sense of humour. He or she will entertain you all day. I was at a test match with my Dad when we were playing the West Indies. Big bad Wes Hall, a really fast, fast bowler was ripping them down to some poor unfortunate Aussie. He swung and missed, he swung and missed again, swung and missed a third time when in a dry drawl an Aussie voiced called out: “Hey mate it’s a little round red thing.”
Priceless are the gems, the one liner’s you will hear at the cricket. It is a good enough reason alone to be part of a cricket crowd. The crowd feeds of the fun its larrikins provide.
I often think the real game is not played on the ground; it’s played between the crowd, security and the coppers (police).
Apart from the construction of “beer snakes” made from empty beer cups the Mexican wave has long been a favourite part of crowd participation at the cricket. They tried to ban it a few years ago. Some thought it was because someone threw a fried chicken into the air and it brained a kid. The other reason given was that someone threw a baby into the air during a Mexican wave.
Security would try and identify the person initiating the Mexican wave and throw them out. Wear a hoodie sit next to some poor old innocent start the wave and like a well-trained sniper quickly change position and watch while the crowd booed and jeered security as they dragged the old guy away. People smuggled balloons in, blew them up, tied them to a piece of string and placed them in front of that sections security camera, ran down and started a new wave undetected.
Then the crowd just changed the wave, a cheeky Aussie variant that they could rightly claim was not in fact a Mexican wave. The authorities have since given up and I am pleased to announce the Mexican wave is back in all its glory. The true challenge of the Mexican wave at the “G” is to get those pompous pricks in the members stand to participate. Usually the wave goes around the ground, stops at the members stand and starts up again on the other side. On rare occasions the members stand goes up as well and you will hear the crowd roar approval and appreciation.
As the day gets late and lubricated its drunken dickhead Showtime. Sometimes police can be jeered for trying to eject a happy drunk or cheered as they hunt down an obnoxious drunk and throw them out. The crowd points out the ones they want thrown out and defends those they don’t. The coppers walk the thin and fickle line of the crowd’s approval and sense of justice. Tell me another place you ever see that happen?
It’s a little glimpse of the ancient colosseum, temporary time travel. When you see a section of the crowd verbally abuse a security guard trying to sanction a larrikin running on the edge of the rules but still, for now, a crowd favourite you will understand the perverse joy Romans must have had when turning their thumbs up or down.
During the day you make lifelong friends with the couple in the next row and forget them completely tomorrow.
You think I’m wrong? Watch cricket on TV but ignore the players and notice the crowd, none of them are watching the cricket unless there has been a wicket, a boundary, a big 6 hit into the members stand or a batsman scores a ton(100). The rest of the time they are their own entertainment. In fact the slower the game the better the day you are going to have.
It’s a bucket list experience, ask anyone that’s ever been there. I rest my case.