The Ashes

If I had a bucket-list, it would have been one item shorter as of yesterday.

That because I stumbled on a chance to watch a live Ashes test – at Adelaide Oval – yesterday.

Me and my bike took the train into town, with plans to wander about the city gawping.

As I sat slurping my second coffee in Adelaide central, my phone reminded me that it was final day of the second cricket test between England and Australia.

I rode 5 minutes or so to the stadium, to find that tickets were $2.

I’m not the kind of cricket fan who can sit for hours watching, but here was a one-off chance.

I found a local supermarket ,and tap, and loaded up on meat, cheese, and water for the duration.

The Oval

The Oval itself is a monument to Aussies’ love of cricket. It seats 53,500,and is surrounded on three sides by covered stands.

It shows instant replays for those spell-bound by their phones. It is crawling with ushers quite happy to answer stupid questions from Confused of New Zealand. There are clean and well-appointed toilets. There’s an orderly bar and eaterie with no mud in sight. Everything is signposted, and there are lifts and escalators aplenty.

In a word, modern.

The Crowd

Is something you don’t get sitting at home. After two early successes, the Aussie bowlers were having trouble making further in-roads, and the crowd became restless. There were hopeful cheers with every bowling change.

And then the slow-clapping started. First to gee up the bowlers, and then, after a while, more of a demand for a scalp.

Finally, a huge concerted roar as Jhye Richardson let rip with a snorter, getting rid of stubborn Chris Woakes. It was a sublime sporting moment. I was there.

The downside of crowds, of course, are neighbours. One an over-sized young woman chattering away to her silent middle-aged friend. And the other, behind me, a Pom who cheered “battiiing”, like some medieval lord tossing out favours to the local knights. Twat.

After Woakes went, the sheen dimmed and the shadows lengthened. I wandered in and out, postponing the 45-minute train ride back to the ‘burbs.

The radio commentary detailed England’s last twitches as I rode the train.

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