For non-British Empire readers, cricket is not just a small insect that makes an annoying chirruping sound, it is also a contest where eleven fit men wearing pyjamas cluster about a ‘pitch’ and take turns ‘bowling’ a hard red ball at oppositon ‘batsmen’ who work in pairs to score ‘runs’ by striking the ball into the distance thereby obliging opposition ‘fielders’ to chase the ball and return it to the ‘wicket’ in order to ‘stump’ the batsmen or … ah, screw it, just f##king Google it.
My point is, I just returned from a ‘limited overs’ match at the Sydney Cricket Ground between Australia and England. I love going to the cricket for the spectacle of the crowd as much as I enjoy the game itself. Am I alone in this? The typical SCG crowd is arranged into three sections. The most entertaining section are in the majority: cheerful buffoons in the cheap-seats ‘square of the wicket’ who seem compelled to wear odd costumes and drink gallons of beer while sitting in the full sun for hours and hours and hours. By the first drink’s break they are quite vocal, by the halfway mark they are going berserk, and by three-quarter time they are getting marched out of the venue by police. It is awesome.
The second section is composed of people like myself who want a seat out of the sun, away from the ratbags, and don’t mind paying for it. But that doesn’t mean we’re boring. A well-lubricated gay man in the seat behind me raucously bellowed “Sucked in you Pommy bastards!” every time an Australian batsman scored a ‘boundary’, except when he was shouting “You bee-you-tay!” at the top of his lungs for almost any reason at all. He was well-pissed, funny as shite, and only borderline punch-worthy.
The final section, called the ‘Members Pavillion” is occupied by the snooty upper echelon of Sydney society, monied dandies and their trophy wives/husbands who refuse to continue a “Mexican Wave” and get pilloried by the crowd, who would never be seen dead balancing eighteen-hundred plastic beer cups end on end like some postmodernist sculpture, and who’d never be caught dressed up like a bunch of slightly raunchy nuns, or Spiderman after too many hamburgers, or their favourite Hanna Barbera/Looney Tunes cartoon character. They just site there in their silk shirts sipping Chardonnay and politely applauding the smack of leather on willow with a restrained “Oh, frightfully good shot old boy, what?”
… and the view out over Sydney was breathtaking. What a beautiful city we live in. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else on Earth.