S.N. Don's blog

Would you like some concrete with that?

So what will probably be the last Ashes Test Match at the WACA has come to an inevitable conclusion with England’s eighth successive defeat there. As Test venues go, it is one of the newer ones what with England playing their first Test in the 1970/71 series. But what are they moving to? A brand new, state of the art, concrete bowl holding around 60,000 which will be perfect for Aussie Rules Football but depressing for cricket.

Before I go on one of my rants, I should forewarn the reader that I have suffered for many years by a condition known as Stadiumitis. This condition was first recognised by an author by the name of Simon Inglis who went on to write a number of books looking at the history of football stadia in the UK and Europe. Now don’t worry, I am not about to embark on anything as exhaustive as that for this journalistic attempt.

The Gabba, Perth Stadium and MCG really need to be bulldozed from an aesthetic perspective as there is nothing in these grounds that gives rise to any sort of cricketing tradition. That leaves the Adelaide Oval and Sydney Cricket Ground as the only ones that tip their hats to days gone by. Sure the new stadiums offer great facilities and sight lines but what distinguishes them from any other concrete bowl? What I love about the SCG is the two old pavilions still in use whereas Adelaide has that old, iconic scoreboard and grassy bank.

What really surprises me is that Perth already has a larger oval stadium, namely Subiaco, which holds around 45,000 and is used pretty much exclusively for Aussie Rules. Why couldn’t this old stadium have a touch of upgrading and be used for cricket as well? Sure, there isn’t any cricketing history at Subiaco but where is the cricket history at the MCG or Gabba? At the former, you have to look carefully to see any reference inside the ground to know that cricket is actually played there. And to think that it was the cricket clubs in Melbourne that came up with a means over 150 years ago to come up with an activity that would keep the cricketers fit over the Victorian winter. Or at least that is one story that I heard a few years back.

Sadly, there is not a lot that Cricket Australia can do as it is the AFL that brings in the crowds every winter weekend and there has been pressure applied to improve spectator facilities over many years and the cost of maintaining outdated stadia becomes more and more prohibitive.

Australian stadia may be great places to watch sport these days but it’s just not cricket!

S.N. Don

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