Fans gear up for grand celebration
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Fans gear up for grand celebration

The thrill of a series-decider coupled with the emotions surrounding Steve Waugh last match have provided fans of both teams the perfect excuse for celebration, irrespective of the outcome.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2003 14:35 IST

The thrill of a series-decider coupled with the emotions surrounding the farewell match of Australia Test captain Steve Waugh have provided supporters of both teams the perfect excuse to break into grand celebration during the Sydney cricket Test, irrespective of the outcome.

That the start of the match coincides with the second day of the New Year has also contributed immensely to the enthusiasm of the cricket fans.

While the Australian supporters would line up in large numbers to give a fond farewell to their champion skipper, who retires from international cricket after the Test, an ever-swelling group of Indian supporters, called the Swami Army, is also expected to throng the venue.

The Swami Army, a funny take on the original Barmy Army of England supporters, is fronted by a quintet of bare-chested youths with the letters I-N-D-I-A painted in the tricoulour on their chests. The foursome have promised to be vociferous in their support to the Indian team with their chants and songs.

The Swami Army was founded in 1999 by a group of expatriate Indian University students and recent graduates and it travels around Australia in support of the Indian cricket team.

"Considering that SCG is a small ground with reserved seating we are not exactly sure how many Indian supporters will come but one can easily spot us as we sport Mexican hats, Indian shirts and five of us are topless with a alphabet each from INDIA," Abhilash Mudaliar, who leads the group, told PTI.

Mudaliar, who shifted to Australia 16 years ago, says the Army has a core group of 15 members who travel around the country for all games while other Indian supporters come and join them intermittently.

Also expected on the ground are the beer wenches, a team of scantily clad girls who could be hired for $65 an hour to wait hand and foot on groups of thirsty fans.

"Then, for an extra fee the wenches, or another girl from the same company, would do a private strip away from the ground for those fans who have had their fill of sun, drink and cricket," said The Sun Herald.

But the New South Wales police are well prepared to ensure that the spirit of cricket is not spoilt and would be patrolling the ground in record numbers.

Streakers and those running on the pitch could face fines of upto $5500 and could also risk removal and bans of 12 months or for life.

To add to all this extravaganza, there will be private box for Waugh's guests.

The box will be graced by his wife Lynette, parents Rodger and Beverley, his twin brother Mark and the likes of Gavin Robertson, Glenn McGrath and Michael Bevan flanked by their respective partners.

First Published: Dec 31, 2003 14:35 IST