Ashes 2006 – Melbourne Cricket Ground
Me and a mate, Mike Batten had always talked about heading over to the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, and in 2006 we did so. We flew out of Auckland on Xmas Day (after a few Xmas drinks at Warren Stewart’s place) and the following day were sitting amongst 90,000 other spectators.
Now, this is like a religious gathering each year, but this year was special – Shane Warne was sitting on 699 Text wickets, and we wanted to be there when he got 700. Here is the photo diary of those two days.
We flew Emirates and the flight was uneventful until we were about half an hour from landing. A lady somewhere behind us had become quite ill, and to the point where she collapsed and had an involuntary movement. We were given priority landing and she was taken off the flight and then we followed. I remember being disgusted by other passengers taking photos of the woman…
While we were taken to the hotel, it started pissing down and we were worried that our entire trip would be wasted, but the cabbie set us at ease by saying that the forecast was for better weather the following day and the test was expected to start on time. The big talk in town was whether the world record for a test crowd would be broken – I think it stood at a shade over 90,000, and there were indications that 98,000 to 100,000 could be done…
Being Xmas night, we couldn’t find anywhere to eat. Funny the things that stick in your mind?
The next day was better (photos show the conditions) and we caught the train into the city with a stop outside the MCG. We were also meeting a work colleague of mine, Will Cavanagh who was doing The Ashes with some Pommie mates of his.
A few beers were bought and we waited in anticipation for the teams – Aussie had won the toss and put England in…perfect, we would see Warnie bowl today, and likely before lunch.
I remember Brett Lee bowling, and the din inside the stadium, I remember thinking that it was crazy that we could only buy mid-strength beer, IN AUSSIE?!?! The queues were long, we were buying the maximum each and taking them back to our seats, but they never lasted long...
The crowd never did build to the expected 100,000, but I tell you what, with close to 90,000 the feel, the buzz, and the sound was amazing! I think about 88,000 watched that day’s play.
Then the moment arrived – Warnie was bowling. The anticipation was immense, and every ball got an oooh or ahhhh, and every appeal was met with a massive roar, and then even bigger boos aimed at the umpires when given not out. England were actually doing very well, if they had lost a wicket, it was only one, and they were scoring quite well on a green top, and even Warney appeared to struggle to get anything out of it.
Then, sort of out of nowhere, it happened. Strauss, England Captain, bowled by Shane Warne to give him 700 wickets! The reaction by him and the team was a spectacle in itself, and the noise from all who witnessed it went on, and on, and on…I think the applause lasted a good five minutes, and Warnie lapped up every second of it.
The following day, all of us, despite having tickets decided to spend the day in local bars to watch the game. Aussie were batting at one point through the day but were in trouble – cometh the hour, cometh the man. Andrew Symonds, who was on tenterhooks for his selection, made a fantastic century which saved face for him and for Aussie. Everywhere we went there were Poms. And some of the stories about there trips Down Under were great to listen to…the one that springs to mind was the older guy who believed he wouldn’t have a home to return to as his wife threatened divorce if he went on this trip…well, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do…
In Confederation Square they had set up the big screen for public viewing.
Anyway, it all had to end sometime. Me and Mike stayed that night in the airport rather than spend money on a hotel…and soon back to hum drum of domestic life back in little old NZ. We have threatened to do the trip again, but nothing eventuated. I know Mike was keen for the India tour Down Under as his hero Tendulkar would be there, but seeing as Warney (and some other big names) had retired and the team didn’t hold the same lustre.