CROWDED HOUSE

Sunday Herald Sun - - Cricket - SAM LANDSBERGER sam.landsberger@news.com.au

CHRIS Tre­main lay wide awake un­til 4am, star­ing at his bed­room ceil­ing.

Hours af­ter last sum­mer’s MCG derby, the Mel­bourne Rene­gades pace­man couldn’t stop the sound of 80,883 scream­ing Big Bash League fans ring­ing in his ears.

The Dubbo prod­uct reached for his phone and texted third um­pire Tony Wilds, also still awake and buzzing.

“Wilds was from Bathurst, so as I was de­vel­op­ing as a crick­eter he was de­vel­op­ing as an um­pire,” he said.

“It all just sort of cul­mi­nated in 80,000 at the ’ G one night. It was re­ally ex­cit­ing to go on a jour­ney and have some­one with you that’d been on the same jour­ney, just a dif­fer­ent path.”

The BBL05 derby was the gamechanger for fran­chise cricket.

“A real line-in-the-sand mo­ment,” BBL boss An­thony Ever­ard said. “It brought for­ward our time­line by a num­ber of years.”

The Stars were hop­ing to break Ade­laide Oval’s do­mes­tic cricket record of 52,633, but a spike in ticket pre-sales cou­pled with an un­ex­pected mass of walk-ups caught the MCG off guard.

And when former Stars cap­tain Cameron White walked to the mid­dle in Rene­gade red, the le­gion of green fans show­ered him with boos.

“I was half ex­pect­ing it, to be hon­est. I don’t take it too per­son­ally,” White said.

It was a touch rough con­sid­er­ing White didn’t walk from the Stars — he was pushed — but the re­sponse helped frank the brew­ing ri­valry as real.

Right-armer Tre­main put the turnout in con­text: “When I was grow­ing up in Dubbo, or near Dubbo, it had about 40,000 peo­ple in it,” he said. “So it was like every­one from Dubbo bring­ing a friend to the MCG.”

What at­mos­phere did Tre­main pre­fer — a do­mes­tic cricket match or bowl­ing for Aus­tralia in an ODI?

“By far, the MCG at­mos­phere was a lot bet­ter,” he said.

“Play­ing for Aus­tralia at Jo­han­nes­burg was amaz­ing, but in your own back­yard in front of all th­ese peo­ple, the at­mos­phere is im­pos­si­ble to beat.”

Ev­ery player from last sum­mer’s wa­ter­shed mo­ment has his tale.

“I don’t think I’ll come close to (a feel­ing) like that again,” new Test star Peter Hand­scomb said — be­fore he tried on a baggy green.

“Just the noise and the at­mos­phere. We were look­ing around and you could barely see a gap in the crowd.”

Last sum­mer’s cen­tury hero Luke Wright tracked down copies of the Her­ald Sun to mail home to fam­ily in Eng­land.

“By the time I walked out to bat I was so fo­cused on try­ing to get off the mark, but when I hit my first bound­ary you sud­denly heard the roar,” Wright said. “That’s when I looked around and looked at the sta­dium and re­alised how many peo­ple were there.

“When I hit the win­ning bound­ary, although it was a funny squeal I made, that raw emo­tion just came out in re­al­is­ing what I had achieved in front of such a big crowd against our big­gest ri­val.”

Stunned ex­pres­sions washed over

the Stars’ play­ers at the roar that greeted Kevin Pi­etersen as he walked to the mid­dle.

Pi­etersen is T20’s gun-for-hire, a show­man play­ing in leagues around the globe. But aside from rep­re­sent­ing Eng­land, he said the Mel­bourne derby was “sec­ond to none”.

“(The derby crowd) is un­be­liev­able and it’s un­heard of,” Pi­etersen said.

Tonight’s derby was a key rea­son why Brad Hogg picked the Rene­gades when hunt­ing for a new club, want­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence a two-team town.

In­jured Stars opener Rob Quiney sat on the bench last year and again will miss his chance at play­ing.

“There are stages where you thought, ‘ Geez, thank God I’m not out there’,” Quiney said.

“I couldn’t think of why we wouldn’t get more than 85,000 (tonight).”

If last sum­mer’s crowd record is bro­ken tonight, this an­nual clash will be locked into the high­lights of the Aus­tralian sport­ing cal­en­dar.

Glenn Maxwell last sum­mer scoffed at whether he would rather stay with the Stars or depart mid-sea­son to help Aus­tralia’s ODI team.

“No. It’s in­ter­na­tional cricket. Against In­dia. That’s a shock­ing ques­tion,” Maxwell said.

But if 85,000 turn out tonight, it’s a ques­tion that will keep com­ing.

A Rene­gades at­tack miss­ing wicket-tak­ers James Pat­tin­son, Dwayne Bravo and Peter Sid­dle could be blown apart by this pow­er­ful Stars’ card. The dy­namic MaxwellPi­etersen com­bi­na­tion will de­liver catch­ing prac­tice to the burst­ing MCG crowd. Watch for a shake-up to the green team’s bat­ting or­der. RICKY PONTING MARK WAUGH ADAM GILCHRIST DAMIEN FLEMING

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