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21 Dec 2011

Cricket At The Stadium

The excitement of watching cricket in the stadium is just fantastic. The adrenalin rush in a stadium far surpasses the feeling when you are watching a match on the television. The Brisbane Heat Vs Melbourne Stars match last night was no less.

Apparently, one of the highlights of the match was the presence of Shane Warne. He played for Victoria, which meant that the chances of them winning the match was higher. He is an international player and a class one at that! The other player who got mentioned, though not as much as Warnie, was Matthew Hayden. He played for the Brisbane Heat. So, I guess we were sort of even. There were some some others, atleast a few names in the Melbourne team - David Hussey, Cameron White, etc - that I recognized but Warnie, as he is fondly called, was the most popular. I did not know at the time but based on the publicity and the crowd going gaga, I figured that Hayden and Warnie were probably was back after some time. A quick peek at the Brisbane Times bulletin on the internet confirms that: "On the plus side, the return to the Gabba of Shane Warne and Matthew Hayden drew a record crowd of 29,241"

Victoria batted first and set a neat target of 178 for the locals. They played well. Towards the end, Brissie seemed to have had a rush of adrenalin and picked up a few wickets in the last handful of overs. The streak continued on as they struck a few fabulous shots across the boundary in the first few overs of their game. Hayden, unfortunately, left the pitch rather early. Soon afterwards, the temperature in the Brisbane team seemed to have gone down. No matter how much the announcer and the crowd tried to 'Fire It Up' for them, the Brisbane Heat could not score enough. Then they picked up again. Towards the end, it seemed to be more of a drive to win that they decided to pull up their socks. Which they did too. That and a few lucky breaks did it, for the team. Imagine a dropped catch, rolling off across the boundary faster than the fielder! It was amazing! The crowd could not stop cheering. The streaks of fire that went out every time the home team shot across the boundary or took a wicket (in the earlier half) went berserk at this point.

As Shane Warne came on board to bowl his first over, the crowd went crazy. The cheers for the Brisbane team switched to cries of "Warnie! Warnie!". In fact, after a while, it was more of a "Waaaarneeeeee, Waaaarneeeee", which sounded more creepy than anything. It was almost as if the appearance of Warnie caused people to forget their own teams for a bit! The cameras panning through the crowds found a man with "Sup Liz" at the back of his shirt. Yet another time, when the Kiss Cam was on, the last one turned out to be a rather big surprise. Liz Hurley kissing her neighbour (an older man she obviously knew). The crowd rang out when that happened.

The biggest distraction, of course, was the guy in a teal coloured costume. With his head in some sort of a strange flame-shape, the man must have been feeling hot as. That did not stop him one bit, as he somersaulted, did side and back flips continuously and walked around, mingling with the audience. Not for a moment did he stop, throughout the 3 hours of the match. Considering how much I struggle with my forward rolls (from crouch position, to boot), I cannot but be amazed at his ability to back flip in costume and with that giant-sized head!

Occasionally, the soft balls that people kept passing around and the Mexican wave (that is absolutely mandatory in any big gathering of that sort, in any country or culture), caused people to look away from the cricket match and participate in the event.

The biggest difference between the match I watched last night and the one I last watched was the crowd reaction. There were polite claps when the other team scored, polite claps when our team scored. Okay, there were a few screams and some general reaction when we scored but even the announcer on the radio, with all his excitement, was subdued in the recent event compared to my earlier experience. That one had people screaming, dancing, pumping fists in the air, yelling and just going whacko! Another huge difference was, of course, how open the ground felt. It took me a while to realize why. The big barriers that separate the stadium audience from the grounds were missing! Even a child could just jump across and land on the ground. No one did. Ah! The classic catches played by a couple of local cricket clubs for a cash prize was another new thing to me. It seemed like a rather fantastic idea!

In all, a great experience. The joy of being in a stadium, watching the match. Ah, it had been so long! The new and old experiences mixed in a lovely blend that resulted in an evening well-spent. Must do it again...

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