If you wanted to write a short skit to satirise the insidious fan-hating culture of cricket ground managers, what would the plot be?
How about, say, Santa Claus being ejected after skylarking with a bloke dressed in a cancer-awareness tutu? That’s surely sufficiently exaggerated to make the comical point.
Bzzt. Try harder. That’s precisely what happened at the Sydney Cricket Ground on the first day of the New Year Test.
The ejection of Santa – admittedly, he did stand up on the boundary wall – was the surreal nadir of a dismal day. When the Australian team was dismissed for 127, Ricky Ponting got out first ball, Pakistan fielded with manic aggression – using four slips and a gully at some points – you would think the stand-out memory might be some of the action on field.
But instead it will be remembered by many for the ludicrous but all-too-familiar scenes in the stands as ordinary folk who’d shelled out at least $50 and change for tickets were led away by police after doing, well, a whole lot of nothing.
One young guy wearing a Bintang beer t-shirt was led away for what appeared to be engaging in the appalling practice of standing up repeatedly.
The wowsers even managed to bust one of their own, in a sequence of events that would be funny if they weren’t so driven by a double helping of misery-guts wowserism.
A bloke in our bay foolishly burst the first beach ball of the afternoon when it landed in his lap. Bad move. With that decision he effectively painted a target onto the back of his head for all subsequent inflatable props moving through the stands for the rest of the day.
Because he kept getting pinged it must have looked to some of the security detail that he was causing trouble. He was led out.
A little while later he returned to his seat, no doubt having convinced the security officers that he was also of the view that the only thing to do at the cricket is sit in your seat with your eyes staring dead ahead.
But even when 10 wickets fall in a day’s play, cricket has its dull points.
The crowd was one of the most fun I’ve had the pleasure to share a day with. Outside having a smoke during a break, John Howard walked past on the way to his car. The whoops and cheers of “Johnyyy! Woo!” from the 100 or so assembled smokers were a perfect reflection of the spirit of the day.
And after Pakistan destroyed Australia’s batting line-up, the home fans gave them warm and extended applause as they left the field.
Mujib, a steel engineer from Karachi I sat next to, was visibly saddened as he watched good-natured fans being frogmarched from the ground. It should have been a good day for him but he was crestfallen as he watched the antics of the security personnel towards the end of play.
Police and safety officers dragged out their quarry to boos from the crowd. Behind me there were two young kids watching it unfold. Even they were appalled.
About those beach balls. Officially these are banned in the SCG and the venue’s website makes the point that one of them recently changed the course of a football game in England.
But the Prime Minister was tossing one about on Sunday.
Shouldn’t he have been cautioned?
Shouldn’t he publicly apologise?
Of course not, because everyone in the country, from the Prime Minister down, knows that the rules are stupid.
They’re also applied arbitrarily, often by glorified bouncers who choose to ruin someone’s day at the cricket out of boredom and because they can.
It’s pointless getting angry with the police or the event staff. They don’t make the rules. It’s the rules that are wrong.
It’s almost as embarrassing for the cops as it is for the supposed offenders.
In fact if you looked closely you could see occasional smiles creeping across the faces of the officers surveying the crowd just a few feet away from us. Their faces had flashes of jealousy, as they looked like they would have preferred to be in their civvies knocking the beach balls around rather than confiscating them.
I’ve written before that the trouble with the SCG management isn’t they dislike people having fun. They just dislike people, period.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…