Sometimes you get lucky.
I had no intention of going to the opening Australia versus England World Cup match. Truth be told, I just got lazy and never got around to buying a ticket.
However, a mate at work offered me a seat in the MCC members pavilion for $60. The reality is that the great majority of you reading this will never get the chance to do the same. I know that. It’s probably why I took up the offer. I mean, how often do World Cups come to Melbourne, with England the opponent and a members pavilion seat behind the bowlers arm?
By the time we took our seats, the pre match was about to start.
The vibe was similar to Boxing day. Full house, anticipation and plenty of nervous energy.
Then the entertainment began. By entertainment, I mean the exact opposite. It was horrible.
12 kids with drums playing something that had no relation to anything. A token guy on a Didgeridoo. Two Emirates air hostesses bring out World Cup and place it on a podium.
The sponsors are now the most important thing.
There was also a countdown clock.
The music sounded like a funeral march. I think that quality pre game entertainment is dead. However, that was not the execution I came to see.
I was hungry. A bucket of chips and water cost a ridiculous $10.50. Don’t even ask me about the cost of beer.
[pullquote]The signage at the ‘G says ‘Greatness is Contageous’. England must have been immunised.
There were also flames. They appeared behind the sightscreens at random moments. I soon learnt they would pop up on every boundary and wicket.
On the 5th ball of the match, Woakes dropped Finch. A sitter. It would cost his team more than 130 runs. It would sap them of energy and belief. It would ensure that the next six weeks of this tournament will be harder than it need be.
The MCG crowd remind us that Broad is still the villain.
Then we saw something that I thought had disappeared from the game. A relay throw. We can thank the fact that the boundaries were pushed back. When did that last happen?
There were interesting song choices bombarding us during the over breaks. ‘Guns in the Sky’ by INXS greeted us first. Quaint. ‘Locomotion’ by Kylie Minogue got a run later. That bit wasn’t fun.
Australia look comfortable. The 4th over took 15 from Broad’s bowling.
Ali decided to drop Warner in the 5th. The next ball went for 4.
0/41 after 5. English heads are down. We have seen this before. The crowd are all too happy to remind them.
Not long after, we learn that the bails flash. I thought I was coming to a World Cup event. Instead, I’ve stepped out of the Tardis and into the Big Bash.
Warner misses a straight one and walks off. Broad is to blame. It is great theatre. Watson then nicks off first ball.
0/57 is now 2/57
Broad. MCG. Villain. Superstar.
Smith is to face the hat trick ball. Fidget fidget.
Yorker. Kept out.
Not long after, the Zinger Bails fire up when Smith inside edges. Australia have lost 3/13. At least it is now interesting. Well, for a while.
Broad tips his cap to crowd to acknowledge a Bronx cheer after falling over while fielding. Then we realise Finch has reached 50 and the cheer becomes a roar. A roar that only this stadium can produce.
The next loud noise is when that 50 becomes a hundred. The release of of emotion from Finch is immeasurable. Two balls later and a 100 run partnership appears from nowhere. Did we even notice that Bailey was in the middle? He has batted time. Just what was needed. This team needs Bailey.
Another crappy fielding effort, this time from Ballance, leads to the collective English heads held in the collective English hands.
At 3/210 (36) I decide that England can’t win. Other wiser cricket heads had called it earlier.
They are a dead team walking.
Over 43. Mitch and Maxwell press the go button. England aren’t good enough. The crowd are awake again. England want this to be over. If only Woakes hadn’t dropped Finch 5th ball of the match. The boring middle overs are clearly over.
Maxwell goes 4,4,4,4. 50 for him. 300 for his team.
Do you remember where you were when Haddin got to 3,000 ODI runs? I do. Row R, Seat 16, Bay Q49 of the MCC members.
The signage at the ‘G says ‘Greatness is Contageous’. England must have been immunised.
The crowd never stops booing Broad. He finishes giving up 66 runs. The devils number. The villain.
England’s plan of having all their players outside the circle on the on side is not working. They don’t care. Why change it? Cook wouldn’t. Why should Morgan?
England have picked a Test team for a white ball tournament. It’s over for them before it begins.
Then the MCG takes us back to the 80’s. ‘Broad is a wanker.’ Not since Hadlee was here have we heard that call. Some of us take guilty pleasure in enjoying it.
3 balls to go. Those four fielders on the onside boundary move to the off side. It works. The wanker takes a great catch.
Mitch Johnson enters. The roar. The biggest roar. The peoples champion.
Maxwell goes. Finn has 4. It has cost him 71. He hasn’t bowled well. It’s just that the slogs off him have been caught. 1 ball left. Hat trick?
Yes! 3 slogs. 3 catches.
5 fer. He’s bowled poorly.
England walk off broken. 342 conceded. 343 to win.
You know. I know. They know. England can’t win.
The innings break appears. There’s a sponsor novelty mascot challenge.
It’s being commentated on over the PA system.
This is cricket’s biggest tournament and we get a novelty sponsor mascot challenge.
Starc. Maiden. Great fielding. All the things England couldn’t do.
The MCG is stirring. It senses a collapse. Buzzing. Probably because more beers have been drunk.
We wait for Mitch. He will be 1st change.
You don’t defend 342. You just wait until you win.
21 balls in and the Mexican wave appears.
I tell my mate 5/65 is likely. Just a feeling.
Hazelwood 2-0-19-0. He needs a rest. Why let England settle? You have Mitch, the scary one, still yet to bowl. Use him. Finish this.
Ali takes on one of the lesser Mitches and loses. So have England.They had already lost.
Ballance channels his inner Bairstow first ball. No feet movement. French cut. Starc looks dangerous and the crowd love it.
Hazelwood gets a 3rd over. He’s still bowling leg side. The crowd murmurs. They don’t like this. 0/28 (3). Get him off please.
Scary Mitch is on. The noise level lifts. Their hero has come to feast. The clapping. Whistles.
Josh is back. Bailey pats his bum and says c’mon mate. Probably just reciting that shit cricket Australia hashtag from last year’s Ashes. It’s a better over. Only 2 runs. We all calm down.
Finally, into the 59th over of the day, the scoreboard shows us the speed gun. MJ 149kph. Starc looked quicker. He was probably fuller.
Ballance is a goose. Finch is moved to short mid wicket. Marsh bowls full on middle. Ballance hits it to Finch. The strategy is 1 ball old and is successful.
Beach ball count. 2. Seagull count. Nil.
MJ peppers Root. The MCG loves it.
Bailey and Smith fight for captaincy supremacy with individual fielding efforts. Australia cannot lose.
Warner reminds us that he can throw. 70m tracer bullet over the stumps. Haddin does not have to move.
Over 14. The boring middle overs have started.
Nup. Mitch Marsh gets Bell. Now we wait for the collapse.
It duly comes. Next ball. Root skies. Haddin takes. Marsh has 3/9 off 17 balls in the WC opener. The MCG crowd is happy.
Captain Morgan to defend it. It’s loud. Blocked.
Is MJ in Morgans head? Let’s find out. He is back on. James Taylor is short.
James Taylor. He’s seeing fire. There’s a hint of rain.
A rebel Mexican wave attempts to get off the ground. It fails. Leave it for the Poms in the crowd. They know how to make it work.
Streaker. In a cape. Super streaker? He’s now $8k poorer.
Solo streaking is dead. Team streaking is the future. Put some pressure on security. It was too easy for them.
More rebel Mexican waves fail to gain traction.
It’s now cold. The wind has arrived. Over 17. The floodlights own the field. The sun has bid us goodnight.
The Mexican wave is finally up. It is loud. All in. No beer snakes sighted.
Taylor and Morgans partnership is 7(24). They have given up. We all know it.
Morgan. 0,2,0,0. He avoids facing MJ. Horizontal Haddin takes another one hander. Marsh 4/13. Is it Xmas? No, it’s just that England are here.
England are 5/71. I wasn’t far off my earlier score prediction.
It’s 8.19pm. If I’m quick, I can get home for the 9.30 movie. I think it is ‘The Mighty Ducks.’ Worth watching. A classic.
Can Maxwell reverse sweep while he bowls?
The electronic advertising hoarding keep flickering. Confused, I think lightening is striking every 2 minutes.
The irony of Buttler reverse sweeping Maxwell for 4 is not lost on anybody.
Smith. SMITH! Great catch mate. Marsh has a 5 fer. He’s only in his 7th over.
Can England avoid the follow on?
The gap in fielding between the two teams is wide. Very wide.
Starc is back. Let’s finish this. The boring middle overs are not so boring.
I haven’t seen the flames or the drummers for a while.
100 comes up for England. The Bronx cheer is more a laugh.
Woakes and Taylor hang around. We are getting restless. Mitch gets Woakes. Thank you Mitch.
Taylor is brave. Very brave. The tempo increases. He’s dropped by Finch. He owed England one I guess.
The seagull’s have arrived. Chip spillage?
Starc. Yorker. Broad. Gone. No antics this time.
The crowd is starting to leave. The goodbye goodbye chants are a happening.
It is still noisy. The beer is taking hold.
Bay 13 chants ‘Warner Warner’.
MJ bounces out Finn. It would rarely happen in reverse. 9/195. Poor Taylor.
James Anderson steps up to give us a few more moments of joy. Or not.
The crowd is 86,000. That only happens for cricket in Melbourne.
Taylor keeps going. 80*
There’s still 12 more overs of this shit if Australia can’t take the last wicket. England being 9 down in the 37th over is crap.
Taylor wears number 38. He is so small, the numbers barely fit on his back.
Bailey drops a screamer. Can I go home yet? I want to beat the crush at Richmond station.
Taylor has won over an Aussie crowd. They love battlers. It’s a shame he plays for England. They don’t deserve him.
Jimmy edges for 4. The fireworks fail. Even they have had enough.
Taylor LBW 98. Refers. Have Australia won or is Taylor 99 or was it a leg bye.
This is awesome.
Aleem Day is overturned. But wait. Anderson is run out. This is just brilliant. Only at the MCG. Taylor 98*
We debate whether it should have been a dead ball. The debate didn’t last very long.
In the end, we all agree that this game was over many hours before.
Poor England. New Era. New Captain. Same old performance.
If they were a dog, you would put them out of their misery.
I saw an execution at the MCG last night.
A slow, painful one.