Tradition lends MCG exclusive touch
As all public transport was free on Christmas (Chrissie, for people here), everyone was looking for presents (pressies). Shops were choked, the pubs around Federation Square full of noisy (and sloshed) customers.india Updated: Dec 26, 2003 06:28 IST
As all public transport was free on Christmas (Chrissie, for people here), everyone was looking for presents (pressies). Shops were choked, the pubs around Federation Square full of noisy (and sloshed) customers. Keeping a benign eye on the celebrations was an imposing statue of Flinders, the fearless navigator who landed in Melbourne about 200 hundred years ago but died, sadly, when only 40.
Melbourne now is vastly different from Flinder's time, it is a busy but largely flat city which began constructing high rise buildings only recently. To accommodate immigrants from different parts of the world; Melbourne is multiracial, the city centre reflects this cultural cocktail. The St Paul's Cathedral has signs in Chinese, lanes around it have more Vietnamese eating houses than Mughlai joints in New Delhi.
From Thursday, celebrations in Melbourne shift to the MCG, one of cricket's most respected homes. It’s linked to the CCI in Mumbai and the MCC in London, all three are traditional, exclusive and prestigious institutions. Securing an MCG membership is difficult bordering on impossible, the wait so long an adult who applies after completing university education hopes to be admitted by the time he’s eligible for social security benefits as a senior citizen.
The cricket ground is surrounded by stately parks, an athletics stadium and next to it is the magnificent Rod Laver tennis complex. Around MCG are placed statues of sporting icons, Bradman, naturally, and others honoured include Betty Cuthbert, winner of three golds in the 1956 Olympics.
Presently the MCG is undergoing a major, and costly, revamp. The Members' Reserve has been pulled down, this has left a gaping hole in the structure which, temporarily, looks run down .But the sturdy spirit of its crusty members remains undented. Ever mindful that lofty standards are not diluted, the stadium is smoke-free area (to keep the air clean), the Mexican wave is firmly discouraged and alcohol is allowed only in bars.
Of course, strict dress codes apply, specially in the main enclosure. Neat casual dress is a minimum requirement, shorts are permitted only if shoes and socks are worn. But no un-collared shirts, no dilapidated shoes, no sunbathing, no this... no that.
A lot of prayers must have gone up on Christmas, certainly some from people wanting rain to keep away. The forecast here is iffy, no different from our Mausam Vibhag, with predictions changing every few hours, swinging from storms to cloudy skies to some rain to clear weather. Considering the furore after Adelaide it appears the Aussies (specially Waugh and Buchanan) have had a sober Christmas. They must have reflected on the mishap and prayed that the ball runs their way in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, the Indians look bright, sunny and confident. On Thursday, they trained in the relaxed manner of the Aussies, light training followed by light nets. There was, of course, the typical Indian touch as batsmen clashed with bowlers in a volleyball game which had much yelling/cheering and plenty of disputed line calls!
First Published: Dec 26, 2003 06:28 IST