If your perception of cricket is a sleepy English village green, cable knit jumpers, cream teas and the gentle crack of leather on willow, then you haven’t been to a T20 Big Bash league game at the WACA. Perth’s famous cricket ground, and home of the Perth Scorcher, speeds up the traditional pedestrian pace of test cricket and squashes it into one afternoon, with all the accompanying razzmatazz of American football crossed with a bit of pantomime.
Santa’s little helpers
I had never been to a cricket match before so I didn’t really have any particular expectations but the 18,600 strong crowd most certainly did, and they donned their orange versions of the Santa hat and brandished their inflatable thunder sticks with pride. Thunder sticks, by the way, look a bit like giant sugar sachets and you bang them together to show approval when things are going well. At least there weren’t any vuvuzelas. However, there were some Didgeridoos.
A small tribe of Aboriginal guys strolled onto the pitch brandishing their instruments and proceeded to play them to the huge crowd, welcoming locals and visitors alike to their native Australia. This is part of cricket Australia’s reconciliation action plan to recognise the culture and pride of the country’s first people. There was then a rousing chorus of the Aussie version of jingle bells with alternative lyrics declaring ‘O what fun it is to ride in a rusty Ute.’
Next up, before the game we had gymnastics on the pitch with youngsters flick flicking and break dancing and running about with large Scorcher flags. The row of large Oxygen tanks at the side of the pitch (which I had originally thought were to aid those out of breath during the game) turned out to be large flame throwers with a significant role to play in the proceedings. A health and safety nightmare no doubt, these devices sent a burst of flames high into the air whenever the home side scored or when a batsman from the opposing side was OUT!
In case you weren’t sure – you are OUT!
Eighties music is still very big in WA – I don’t think it ever went out of fashion here – and there were strains of ‘Come on Eileen’ to cheer the boys on and ‘Hit the road Jack’ was gleefully blasted out when one of the opposing batsmen bit the dust. There were also extra fireworks if the score was six as opposed to a mere four runs. And when the bales are knocked off the wickets, they flash like a winning one armed bandit!
Fireworks for the home side
Opposing the eye popping high vis orange of the Scorchers (I couldn’t help thinking the team looked a bit like contingent from the Highways Agency) were the Adelaide Strikers donning a slightly more tasteful blue kit.
Orange is the new black
The atmosphere in the stadium was fairly benign compared to a British football match for example, which involves a lot of shouting and swearing and sometimes violence, before and after games. This was definitely more of a family occasion. A sea of orange Santa hats stretched into the sunshine hoping for a festive win at their home ground.
I didn’t know the names of any cricketers at all apart from the unfortunate Philip Hughes, the Australian Test cricketer who died recently in a freak accident, but the Scorcher’s top batsman was supposedly no 15 Michael Carberry, an Englishman who used to play for Surrey, Kent and Hampshire.
Carberry goes batty
During his time with the latter club, in his partnership with Neil McKenzie, they scored 523 runs at the Rosebowl in Southampton in 2011 which was the ninth highest score of all time. He wasn’t that great today, scoring a mere 27 runs off 35 balls. He did lose his grip on the bat at one point though, flinging it 15m into the air which was quite entertaining, if unexpected.
At the interval there were more shenanigans with effervesent cheer leaders and the club mascot ‘Blaze’ the dragon.
Blaze is on fire!
Whoever was inside Blaze’s costume had some stamina, as he joined in with the with energetic cheerleaders in 30 degree heat and showed no signs of combustion – he’s obviously used to the heat, being a dragon of course. Occasionally a blast of Tijuana trumpet rang out signally the start of a limp wrested Mexican wave around the ground.
Final score – SO close!
However, things did get quite exciting towards the end as time ticked on and the Strikers got closer and closer to the Scorcher’s 146 runs. One blue batsman after the other were bowled OUT! Then, in the final over with the second to last ball they made it to 148 runs! Astonishing, who would of thought it – cricket can be fun!
I thoroughly enjoyed my sunny afternoon at the WACA cricket ground and it was a great start to my down under Christmas of 2013.