If you ask an auto rickshaw driver at the Delhi airport to take you to ‘Kotla’ or tell a cabbie in Kandivali to drop you at the ‘Wankhede’, the common response would be, “Kahaan bole?” (where did you say?). Howsoever we show off our passion for the game that once used to be played by gentlemen, the major cricketing venues often aren’t a part of their respective city’s culture.
But that’s not the case with another huge country — in terms of size and cricketing culture — across the Indian Ocean. In Australia, all the cricketing venues of the city are an inseparable part of the city’s ethos. So, you mention MCG to anyone in Melbourne, and you will be directed to the MCG. Same is the case at Perth, where WACA is known to anyone and everyone.
With the MCG and the WACA pretty much close to the heart of the city (CBD, Central Business District, as they say in Awe-stralian), it wasn’t so surprising that everyone knew the cricket venues in this country. But the same story continued as the Indian cricketers moved across to Queensland on Wednesday, and re-adjusted their watches thrice within a week. Though The Gabba is not in the CBD, almost every local directs you to the famous stadium. As a result, the hour-long trip from the airport to the Brisbane Cricket Ground (yes, that’s the official name of the stadium) becomes a pleasant experience. Such is the popularity of the stadium that a restaurant owner has come up with an innovative name, ‘Wollonga-bba’, for his bistro across the road from the main entrance. Cricket’s popularity is not the only reason that the venues have become landmark destinations. It definitely helps that most stadiums here also double up as venues for the Australian Football. Australians like cricket but they love Aussie-rules football!