North Adelaide, Australia
On this trip I have picked my accommodation by how it sounded more than location, but have been very lucky, with the starts of both Thai and Malaysia races, the Gabba and parkrun within walking distance of wherever I was staying at the time. Here I am several miles from town and with all the venues in the North of the neatly arranged area (Adelaide has a very organised centre, CBD, shopping area, venues in the North, all ringed by parkland), I need a bus. But the bus stops almost outside the Oval, so today’s trip was easy.
I joined a duff ticket pickup queue which delayed my entry long enough to miss the first over, but I was there in time to realise heading for my seat was pointless, as rain was falling, the seat was in the open, and the players were off.
Worse, it was cold. Actually cold – the high today was under 20, and in the shade it was cool, with a sharp cold wind gusting through. Very English – when the sun crept round later, it was warm, any cloud cover made it cold again. I was in the new East stand; looking at it, with the upper tier under construction and swathes of the lower covered, I think they have released tickets wherever they can. Perhaps that’s why I was able to buy tickets just a couple of weeks ago, new ones released. Cool to be there, and it meant I was side on to the action but quite near the front. Even better, I was just near enough to pick up some sun in the afternoon. With another rain delay we had an early lunch and I got back to my seat to see the sun had crept from row D to row R. I was in S, right under the lip, and it took another half an hour to warm us up.
The cricket was good. Attendance was over 33,000, not many fewer than Brisbane, though it was much quieter. Apparently the Barmy Army were warned whenever they started chanting, and there was no Courier Mail campaign to get Broad booed here. England had a decent day, just about, but dropped a couple of chances. Plus Australia are already on a score that was more than enough in the first test.
The ground is lovely, new and shiny where they’ve finished, and with the same ‘quick check and in you go with a smile’ service at the gates. I hope the audio system is a work in progress, because I couldn’t hear a thing. I don’t think that’s just because I was in the new bit, where there aren’t any speakers, it seemed to generally be echoing rather than broadcasting. The big screens work well, though, and the ‘traditional’ scoreboard is visible from most of the ground. It not being electronic means it doesn’t have the sponsors’ message obscuring crucial info during overs, unlike the Gabba.
And the over rate! Despite delays, England piled through overs – by test standards, at least. It was announced that the new close of play would be a very exact 6.09, with a possible 30 minutes extra to get through the overs. No danger of that – thanks partly to an hour with both spinners operating, England had to bowl 10 overs in 50 minutes. Easy. It shows how used we are to not getting the right number of overs that few spotted what would happen if we bowled the requisite 90 early – as soon as the 90 were up, most of the crowd were out of their seats, eventually sitting down when they spotted Panesar was coming in for one more go. The Essex bore behind me had seen it coming, and happily talked to anyone who could hear about what might happen when we ‘finished’ with five minutes to go. Yawn.