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Cricket can?t get a prettier setting

If there is a more charming cricket ground than Adelaide it must be hidden in some remote corner of Mars. The setting of the Oval is simply magnificent ? stately trees along the boundary, parks all round, a cathedral nearby, Torrence river flowing just one big hit away.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2003 00:08 IST

If there is a more charming cricket ground than Adelaide it must be hidden in some remote corner of Mars. The setting of the Oval is simply magnificent — stately trees along the boundary, parks all round, a cathedral nearby, Torrence river flowing just one big hit away.

The place has such character that nobody minds the pavilion is not behind the bowler's arm or that the square boundaries are short, while the ones in front so long the ball is retrieved by fielders through a relay. Concrete is practically absent, even the recent Sir Don Bradman stand merges gracefully into the surrounding slopey lawns.

What is remarkable, given that the world is dominated by aggressive marketing, is that commercial branding is not in your face but unobtrusive — Adelaide does not have splashy ads of colas, paan masala, tyres or sarees from Karol Bagh.

Of course, there is a large dose of Bradman — apart from the main stand there is a Bradman room and his busts, bats, paintings, plaques and pictures are just about everywhere.

Not that other prominent sons of South Australia are neglected — Chappell has a bar named after him and Victor Richardson and Grimmett are also suitably honoured. Sobers and Barry Richards played in Adelaide with distinction, both part of a tradition that started with Tests staged here 120 years ago.

Adelaide has had lawn bowling since 1902, it hosts football every season, recently it staged rugby World Cup matches and an Elton John concert. But cricket remains a priority.

Rahul Dravid , who appreciates history, nodded his head and said, that this place was class. On Wednesday, Dravid came to the dressing room only to reserve his favourite corner and then disappeared to enjoy his day off, the coach sanctioned leave for him to refresh his mind and return doubly charged the next day.

Dravid, in the company of Sehwag, used the opportunity to see Sea Biscuit, a film (I was told by a knowledgeable person) about horses.

Dravid is earnest and serious, he thinks hard and deep about cricket, and going into the Test is keen to make a larger impression. He has almost 6000 Test runs, he helped turn Indian cricket around in Kolkata but that splendid effort was dwarfed by Laxman's bigger 281.

The Aussies, like the English, notice overseas players only when they score runs in their country and Dravid, aware of this weird snobbery, would like to set the record right.

It leads to the question do the top players feel extra pressure after missing out in a few innings? Steve Waugh says pressure mounts with every failure. If this is so, Sachin too would be tense, with Bucknor behind him in Brisbane and now the Bradman angle in Adelaide.

Surprise call, late in the evening. Kapil paaji wishing the team luck. Dil se khelna, he said, and zyada kuch bolna nahin. Performance should be on the ground, let others know how good you are.

First Published: Dec 12, 2003 00:08 IST