Take a read of the story, posted by the MCC
Australian Cricket hurt me. It hurt more than just me. It hurt every one of us who for years and generations, have proudly respected and supported the sanctity of the Baggy Green.
I take it personally.
The actions of “The Cape Town Three”, Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft damaged the great name, history and tradition of our team and all that has been good in Australian cricket.
Nine months ago, if you had asked me, I would have eulogised about former-captain Steve Smith. I would’ve told you how his leadership was something all Australian’s should aspire to. I’d say things were on the right track; the Australian team seemed to be clicking well, Smith and Warner were the best third-wicket batting partnership in world cricket and we played the right way, in the right spirit.
Sure, things weren’t perfect, but we played the game hard but fair.
Or so I thought…
So, I lost faith. We all lost faith.
Consequently, it’s a tough walk into the MCC Members for Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test.
I’m with Dad and he looks over to me as we reach the gate apprehensively, insinuating ‘do you really want to do this?’
I reassure him and we walk into the mighty MCG, the sun beaming brightly on the pitch before us.
It’s time to fall back in love with Australian Cricket. I need to fall back in love with our Australian Team.
I do not feel like I did last year, or the many Boxing Day Tests before. It’s unfamiliar and I almost dread being here.
They say there’s no place like home, but I look around to see the swarm of Indian fans, loud, taunting. I see them with Sandpaper plastered t-shirts, mocking us. My stomach drops.
I feel more out of place than ever before. I feel like a visitor in my own home.
It makes me hungry, fills me with the eagerness to prove them wrong; not just the Indians, but anyone else who tore us down in the darkest times of Aussie cricket.
‘I used to idolise these men,’ I think to myself, disappointed at the state of Australian cricket both on and off the field.
It’s been nine months for Australian cricket fans, creeping out of isolation to witness the five days of the traditional Boxing Day Test that can make or break the rest of the Australia v India Series.
We take our seats on Level 1 in the MCC Members Reserve, the cloud protecting us from the glare of the early afternoon sun.
The weather is sticky and my back is drawn back into my chair, where I will settle for the final session of play.
It’s been a long day for not only the players, but the spectators too, with the pitch giving absolutely nothing to the bowlers.
We saw Virat Kohli fall, when he attempted to take on Mitch Starc over third man, caught on the fence by Aaron Finch. Starc’s relentless bowling finally paid off, cutting Kohli’s chance at a century short.
Soon after Pujara is bowled by Pat Cummins,for a well-played century. Cummins is the only shining light of the Australian Bowlers thus far.
The Indians look to be in no hurry and it’s dragging on, with the pitch providing no spin and no bounce for either batter or bowler to create magic on.
India eventually bring up their 350 runs, but it comes off 873 balls. Interestingly, there were 714 dot balls in that score.
Mitch Marsh is brought on to bowl. In a selection surprise, he replaced local hero Peter Handscomb in in the side and was booed by large sections of the Victorian crowds on Boxing Day. His impact with the ball has been minimal and it’s frustrating. He needs to do something with the bat to prove his worth.
Nathan Lyon is back bowling next and he has found his second wind. But his teammates let him down. Peter Siddle as 12thman drops one in the air at backward square leg and only one ball later, short leg drops another one.
We’re stinging, but the crowd is buzzing and I notice the mood change and that everyone is still invested.
Only a handful of overs later, Rahane is out lbw to Nathan Lyon, by a ball that kept uncomfortably low.
The crowd rise around me. The spark is there and the game is back alive. Australia are into the tail end of the Indian batsmen.
But the game slows once more and I sit back to think.
I think about what cricket will be like at the MCG in five years and what Australian cricket be as a whole.
Who will be in the side? What does the future of Aussie cricket really look like?
We need to stop this selection merry-go-round and find the guts to have patience and faith in the young guys trying to establish themselves in the batting line up. Whether it be Renshaw, Handscomb, Bancroft, Cartwright or even young Will Pucovski, the changes must start now in order to see a prosperous and successful life of test cricket for Australia in the future.
We’re back to reality as Cummins drops Pant on 16 and the luck is proving to be against the Australians.
We’re frustrated, but we’re still here, all of us. Braving the heat, scared to miss a second of the action.
The late afternoon sun dances behind the clouds as the Australian’s bring on Aaron Finch to bowl a few overs. He laughs to himself and he has the crowd amused for a little while.
The last thing Finch would have ever dreamed was that he would be bowling in a Boxing Day Test in front of his home crowd.
The Indians, led by Sharma and Pant, step it up in the last 20 overs of play, bashing and smacking shots, aiming to make 450 by days end.
Pant hits one too high on the bat and it floats for what seems like minutes. The MCC Reserve hold their breath, but Usman Kwahja holds his nerve and takes the catch. The crowd is pleased once more.
It is a nice relief and soon, Jadeja nicks one and is caught behind by captain Tim Paine.
India declare with nine overs left, 7-443.
This is a smart declaration by Kohli, putting the pressure on Australia’s openers to survive a short and hostile spell to end Day 2.
There are seven tense overs remaining. Suddenly, it’s game on.
It’s been a long and hot day and it is these final overs that bring the most pressure and spark the most enthusiasm of the day.
Every ball is vital.
Harris wears one on the helmet but bats on courageously, to see out the day unconquered.
The tension is released and you can hear the crowd sigh collectively in relief. The Aussies stay safe, ending the day on 0-8.
The incident of nine months ago still hurts us and you can see it in the people and hear it in their conversations. The spark we once all felt is not the same, but it remains alive for those loyal few who have chosen to stick around.
And it makes me proud to see the people who show up, in the wake of the dark cricket days, to show their support and share the love of this great game. Australia’s game.
We find that spark in the few amongst us and share it with the men on the field.
I may not be in love again, but I look to the future and I realise the game we cherish is starting to win me over once more…