MCG set to pro­duce fresh slice of his­tory

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

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.

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