In The Presence Of Greatness

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December 29th 2011
Published: January 1st 2012
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After the excitement of yesterday, Boxing Day started very overcast but predominantly dry. We had had a splendid Christmas dinner at Grant’s and Anna’s and the whole event was extremely successful given the problems that the weather had caused. The TV news this morning was full of the dramatic Melbourne weather scenes with the size of hail stones growing with each weather report until they were, apparently, the size of cricket balls!!! Scenes of broken car wind screens were shown and of quite a bit of property damage. In hindsight we escaped pretty well but we were sorry to have missed the White’s evening party. Today the famous Boxing Day Test started with Australia hosting India. We were there last year when England were the visitors and went again on the fourth day when England, with the help of a rowdy but good-natured “barmy army”, secured the Ashes. We are thinking of going to the MCG tomorrow when Sachin Tendulkar, India’s super star, is hoping to get his one hundredth hundred in test cricket. Today we considered going to the nearby Knox City Shopping Plaza but our near neighbours returned saying it was chaos because of the Boxing Day sales and
The 'Little Master' - Sachin TendulkarThe 'Little Master' - Sachin TendulkarThe 'Little Master' - Sachin Tendulkar

possibly the greatest test batsman of all time
they struggled to get a parking space. Instead we had a quiet morning and watched the test match well into the afternoon when the weather seemed to be consistently dry. Later we decided, against our better judgement, to see what Knox City was like – we thought the crowds might have eased a bit. We were wrong – it was heaving. It took us five minutes to get there and twenty minutes to find a parking space. We persevered and battled our way through the crowds. It was more of an investigative visit really – we didn’t actually buy anything except a couple of ice-creams. But we discovered the cinema complex and identified a couple of films that might be worth watching. We also found a couple of good stores that will be well worth a visit when the crowds diminish a bit.

Back at the caravan we had some new neighbours - the older couple who had been there for several days had moved to an “en suite” site they had already booked. They had been replaced by a young couple in a “door-slammer” camper van. They were both English but were now living in Sydney and had hired the van for the Christmas break. They had a swim in the pool which encouraged Graham to do the same while I began to get dinner ready. Later I rang Daphne just to tell her we were thinking of going to the MCG tomorrow and she seemed quite keen to come along. We agreed to call in at her house at about 9:30am and to catch the tram from there.

For some reason, on the morning of Tuesday 27th December, we decided to change our plans slightly and a series of minor catastrophes unfolded but they didn’t spoil our day. Firstly, Graham asked at reception if a “full” caravan site was available in place of the narrow “drive-through” site we’re currently on. Not today, alas, but one would become available on Friday where we can stay for four nights until our departure for Tasmania. Then we decided that, instead of driving all the way to Daphne’s, we would take the car only as far as Vermont South where we would catch the tram, get off at Daphne’s for a cuppa and then get back on to go to the MCG for day two of the Boxing Day test between Australia and India. Unfortunately, because of the Christmas holiday period, the opening times of the ticket agents had changed and they wouldn’t be open for another hour. We decided to buy tickets from the machine on the tram but only just managed to scrape together enough small change. No sooner had I acquired the tickets (the tram was trundling along while I was trying to put small coins into a small slot!!) than the tram ground to a halt. It seems the tram ahead of us had broken down and was blocking the line! After a period of waiting the driver enquired if he could reverse the tram to a points junction half way back to Vermont South, transfer from the in-bound line to the out-bound line, bypass the broken down tram and rejoin the in-bound track further into the city. He was given the go-ahead to do that and, actually, it worked very well although time was passing by. I rang Daphne from the tram to explain that we were running late, we would fore-go our cuppa and if she was ready she could go to catch the tram which would almost certainly be the tram we were on. She said she would leave immediately – a two minute walk to the end of the road and we were still 15 minutes away. We were beginning to wonder why we didn’t drive all the way to Daphne’s as planned. We would not have wasted all that time and we would all be together to catch the tram from the end of Barkly Street. This frustrating thought got worse as the tram passed by Barkly Street and we saw Daphne casually strolling along the street – she had missed the tram!!!

We decided to get off the tram at the next stop, to walk back to meet Daphne and to catch the next tram together. Unfortunately, because of the broken down tram, the next one was an age in coming but eventually it arrived and we all made our way to the MCG, but much later than planned. The tram got quite busy mainly because of over-excited Indian cricket fans but we made it to the entrance of the MCG only to be confronted by long queues of people waiting to buy tickets. The irony was that Daphne, with her MCG membership pass, was able to walk straight in and to watch the action which had already started while we had to queue for about half an hour to get our tickets. In that time Australia lost two wickets so we felt a bit peeved that we were so late. Eventually we got in, met up with Daphne who had passed through the Members area to join us “oicks” in the main stand, and found three empty seats in an excellent position. Our tickets came with allocated seats but Daphne, because she had transferred, didn’t have an allocated seat so we just took some empty ones. Ironically, our allocated seats were already occupied by someone else!! But the seats we had chosen and the views we had were excellent so we didn’t mind. It was an entertaining morning and the atmosphere was highly charged with the Indian fans making the most of their team’s apparent dominance. Just before the lunch break Australia were all out and the excitement increased as the Indians, renowned for their batting prowess, started their innings.

The prospect that Sachin Tendulkar, an Indian batsman revered like a “god” in Indian cricket, was likely to be batting at some point during the afternoon (and he was aiming to score his one hundredth hundred in Test cricket – a phenomenal effort) seemed to encourage more and more Indians to come to the MCG and pretty soon the seats where we were sitting began to fill up. Eventually our chosen seats were allocated to someone else and a ground official asked us to move but, with the help of the same ground official, we were able to claim our original allocated seats. Poor Daphne had to find a single seat at the back and she ended up standing for much of the time but she didn’t mind as, like us, she wanted to see Tendulkar bat. Eventually India lost a couple of wickets and in he came to a massive reception. Indians love their cricket and their support of their players knows no bounds. They squealed and shrieked at anything positive that an Indian player did and laughed derisively at the Australian efforts. To us they weren’t very sporting at all. Give us a raucous, rowdy, patriotic but ultimately sporting Aussie crowd any time. The cricket, however, was highly entertaining and “the great man” did not disappoint. He raced to a “fifty” with ease and included some remarkable shots which confirmed the mastery he has. When we realised he was unlikely to reach his century landmark today we decided to leave to beat the rush for the trams but to return tomorrow to witness the momentous event. We got back to Daphne’s in good time where we planned to have dinner with David, Mele, Bert, Kym and Daphne of course. The TV went on to catch the end of the day’s play and imagine ours and most of India’s disappointment when Tendulkar was out very late in the day having scored 73.

Dinner was a huge success with Mele and David conjuring up a splendid meal and conversation carried on late into the evening. After the washing up we needed to beat a hasty retreat as we still had to catch the tram back to the car and then drive back to the caravan park. There are no real time constraints as we have a pass-card to open the security gate but we are conscious of late-night noise in the quiet of a caravan park and we know how disturbing it can be. David, however, insisted on driving us back to the car as he needed to drive Mele back to Box Hill so our journey was very much easier and more timely than we had anticipated. Back at the caravan we settled in comfortably and, excited by the events of the day, we had a late-night cuppa before turning in – it had been a truly enjoyable day.

Wednesday 28th was a very pleasant day though without the excessive heat of a few days ago that made us feel uncomfortable in the caravan. We decided on a casual day today and spent the morning catching up with a few blogs and a bit of accounting. Graham played a bit of music and then watched the continuation of the Boxing Day Test match which, this morning, Australia began to dominate. After lunch, with the Indians fighting back in a very topsy-turvy game, we went to visit the wedding cake decorator and then to do some shopping at Waverley Gardens. Back at the caravan we watched a bit more cricket and again the match seemed to be swinging first one way and then the other. At the end of play the result was poised on a knife-edge so we may well go to the MCG tomorrow in the hope that we witness the end of a cracking Test match. This evening I carried on with a bit more blogging while Graham went and had a swim. I said I would join him later but I should have gone when he did as he had the pool to himself for half an hour. No sooner had I arrived than a family with four young children arrived and we remembered them from a few days ago when they ran and jumped about without any consideration for anyone else. So I abandoned my swim and went back to get dinner while Graham had his shower. It had been a nice, relaxing day in the main, however, and a relatively early night followed.

Given the state of play in the Test Match from yesterday we decided that today, Thursday 29th, we would go and watch the fourth day’s play. Overnight the match result was in the balance and with a few special individual achievements also possible. Australia’s Mike Hussey was poised to score a century but if India got the remaining Aussie wickets cheaply then they had a chance to win and “the little master” – Sachin Tendulkar - might have another chance to score his one hundredth test hundred. As before, we caught the tram from Vermont South but, with no breakdowns to slow us down and with no Daphne to look out for, we were able to get to the MCG in good time to buy tickets and to watch the start of the day’s play. Disappointingly, Hussey was out quite early but the Australian tail-enders scored more runs than expected to give India a tough target to chase. But, with two days left and a strong batting line-up, they were still marginal favourites. However, they struggled to cope with the aggressive Aussie fast bowlers who gave them a tough time and got a couple of cheap wickets. That brought Tendulkar in to a standing reception and his personal milestone looked very possible as he raced to over 30 runs in no time at all. Alas, it wasn’t to be India’s day as Tendulkar was soon out and the rest of the team offered little resistance as Australia powered to what was a comfortable win. It had been a great match with a great atmosphere but Australia won – the right result as far as we were concerned.

The tram journey back was quite swift which gave me a bit of time to do some shopping at Vermont South before we collected the car and drove back to the caravan. I tidied up a bit and also did some “blogging” while Graham did some preparations ahead of moving the caravan tomorrow to a better, bigger site. We have a lunchtime engagement in Mornington tomorrow so we hope we can move the caravan fairly early. However, the current occupants have shown no signs of packing up yet. Officially they should leave before 10:00am which would be perfect for us but some caravanners have been known to hang around for as long as they can - we’ll just have to wait and see.

Additional photos below
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Sachin comes out to bat to a standing ovationSachin comes out to bat to a standing ovation
Sachin comes out to bat to a standing ovation

He had a wonderful innings making 73 but he still waits to get his 100th international 100

1st January 2012

cricket at the MCG
We were at the caravan but kept up-to-date with the scores. I wonder if Tendulkar will ever grt that 100th 100? We have just seen Derby County win their last three games against higher teams, after a good start to the season, an abysmal last couple of months losing game after game. Let's hope 2012 will see them climb hihher up the table. Bruce is 70 on 7 JAN and I am 75 on 16 Feb. David and wife may be coming over from the US in Feb for 'a weekend'. Happy New Year to you both, See you in March or whenever you return to Blighty. Love Ann & Bruce xxxx
1st January 2012

100 100's
Hi - Happy New Year to you both and happy birthdays (in advance). Sachin will probably get his 100th 100 in the next few days as the Sydney ground is apparently one of his favourites. J&G xxx

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