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