I spend a lot of time at the MCG and think that I never take this Sacred Site for granted but the other day my eyes were opened once more to its presence in the Australian landscape.
I am involved with the Lord’s Taverners in Geelong. The Lord’s Taverners is all about giving people, who might not otherwise have it, a sporting chance. The Geelong Taverners have been supporting the cricket program at Northern Bay College in Norlane, Geelong, and as part of this program I was hosting ten students and two teachers from the school at the Australia v Sri Lanka T20 on Friday night. Five of the students were from Sri Lanka and could not have been more excited.
Word came down from the top brass at school that the MCC had dress codes so, before the bus picked everyone up at 4.30, blazers and ties were pooled and all those embarking on the Geelong Highway were resplendent in full school uniform despite the 30 degrees.
The first stop was the outdoor viewing nets where both teams warmed up. We then went up to the MCC Library where Lynda Carroll gave us a tour and they all signed the visitors’ book and got a Fact Sheet for the night. A quick glance outside the Library door to the right, and before the doors to the loos, was the obligatory stop in front of the Bradman-Tendulkar photo, the most photographed picture in the MCG. The group were keen to hurry down, however, to the most coveted spot: just in front of the Sri Lankan team dugout. Front row seats there gave all they had promised.
The MCG was alive with the crowd dressed in pale blue with trumpets blowing and everyone full of noise despite the crowd being a little under 30,000 maybe due to the early start to the international cricket season in Melbourne and the distractions of a big Melbourne Cup long weekend. David Warner put on a show ending up with 57 not out despite nearly being caught by a horizontal Malinga and nearly dribbling a ball off the body onto his stumps. Perera was the highest scorer for Sri Lanka with 57 from 45 deliveries. It was the best game of the series from the tourists but they still fell short with Australia winning the series.
The Northern Bay College students were still after more: would I be able to drum up a celebrity cricketer for them to meet? (Not as easy as it might sound). Trying to pull a rabbit out of the hat, I contacted former CEO of Cricket Victoria, Ken Jacobs, who is always to be found in the Olympic Room with Cricket Victoria luminaries on cricket game day. He went through a list of possible photo candidates but they, despite their lofty heights in the administration of the game, were unknown to the students. I was saved by Cricket Australia photographer Johann Dias Jayasinha who rallied a couple of the Sri Lankan players up to the students at the dugout and achieved the miracle photo.
The MCG provided again a night of magic for a group of young cricket enthusiasts. Thank you to Jane Nathan and Cricket Victoria for helping with tickets. Memories are made of moments like these.
Growing up a nerd, many of Clare Cannon’s childhood friends were shocked by her reinvention in middle age as an avid sports watcher and student of cricket and football.
Childhood memories of the Test cricket on black and white television as a sound of summer was part of this passionate evolution, as well as regular trips to the football at the MCG with a cousin and a Queensland Aunt who always made cheese and jam sandwiches for the occasion.
Later, it was her sister who took Clare to the MCG to attend Melbourne matches and to watch her sister’s boyfriend play seconds before the main game that further kindled the flame.
Now “living the dream,” Clare has taken girls’ cricket tours around the world with Cricket Without Borders and sits on the Committee of the MCC.