MCG set to produce fresh slice of history
THE MCG, ‘the paddock that grew’, is sacred sporting turf.
It is the site of the first ever cricket Test. It is where Bradman scored his maiden Test century, where Trevor Chappell bowled underarm, where Jezza and Cazaly soared (and a tram later flew), where the Olympics first came south of the equator, where Darrell Hair called Murali for throwing and where Shane Warne took a famous hat-trick.
This week it will hold its 100th cricket Test. Or 99th, depending on which cricket historian you listen to.
The extra Test that will allow Warne to take his 700th wicket in his home ground’s official 100th Test was a washout in 1970-71. Not a ball was bowled, but because there had been a toss, it stands as one of seven Tests played in that season.
Statistical quibbling aside, the fourth Ashes Test will be a very special occasion.
The place is unrecognisable from the patch of ground where Alfred Shaw delivered the first ball in Test cricket to Australia’s Charlie Bannerman on March 15, 1877.
In those days gentlemen spectators wore frock coats and raised their top hats to ladies rustling by in their crinolines on the way to tea.
Now men in shorts and thongs bring plastic cups of beer to women in brief tops.
If they are heard racially abusing anyone or get too carried away and throw things during a Mexican wave, one of a hundred or more closedcircuit television cameras will zoom in and direct security guards to eject and fine the miscreants.
They will be subjected to a full bag search as they enter the ground. Musical instruments will be confiscated, unless your name happens to be Billy (the Trumpet) Cooper, the Barmy Army’s official accompanist.
None of this should impinge on five days of celebration.
On Boxing Day officials are expecting the biggest crowd ever to witness a day of Test cricket. The record of 90,800 set on Jan 2, 1961, during the iconic Australia-West Indies series, is set to fall.
This will be the most watched cricket Test in history.