The heat is truly on in Brisbane, literally and metaphorically. While Steve Smith’s boys are hell bent upon flattening the Pakistan cricketers with bouncers on the bouncy Gabba, the unrelenting heat --- it’s touching the 40 degrees Celsius in the city --- may cause the discomfort level of the visitors to rise, given that they are coming from the cooler climes.
But while the players will have to ‘endure’ the dead heat, some 120-odd spectators --- chosen by lucky draw --- will have the luxury of taking a dip in the metre-deep swimming pool on the sidelines of the Gabba and also get an unobstructed view of the match in progress.
A one of its kind initiative --- purists may call it a gimmick, or whatever --- but the novelty is certainly to go down quite nicely with the spectators, who, the stadium authorities feel, will be queuing up for the unique experience. Sans the beer, of course! Liquor of any kind will be banned inside the pool enclosure.
A transparent pool fence will ensure the stray ball does not rocket into the pool like a meteor, while artificial grass on the periphery of the pool will give the feel of walking on the hallowed stadium, albeit one will have to careful not to step on the baking hot deck. That could leave more blisters than you can handle on the underfoot.
To give a proper feel of the swimming pool, lifeguards, life jackets and officials will be at hand monitoring the summer frolics. The executive general manager (marketing), Cricket Australia, Ben Amarfio, was quoted as saying the pool deck will bring “a real Queensland summer feel to the Test”.
Well, cricket seems to have come a long way from the days in the ’50s in England when spectators were made to feel as if they were being shepherded into a concentration camp.
Cricket Australia has also announced that they will “reward creativity” and that people should turn up in their best swimming attire, replete with Hawaiian shirts, et al, although the ‘dress code’ is still unclear. Authorities have asked the public to “head to the match in their best pool attire and they could be randomly selected for an upgrade to the pool deck”.
Well, who knows, if the experiment is successful --- and it’s bound to --- the Gabba could one day be converted into a sandy beach, and beach cricket could become the sport of choice at the venue.
But that’ll take some time coming. For now, 120-odd spectators can dream of that day while watching Australia and Pakistan battle it out for supremacy.