On November 15 1838, three years after the fist white settlers arrived at the MCG, five cricket lovers founded the Melbourne Cricket Club. Messrs Powlett, Russell, Smith and the two Mundy brothers each clubbed together their one guinea subs and bought two bats, some stumps and a few red leather cricket balls. The club, whose logo is much the same as the other MCC only in blue and red, has a fascinatingly rich history. Early 19th Century cricket bats, countless scorecards and a fine collection of Ashes series urns are proudly displayed in an excellent museum within the MCG stadium.
It’s not a bad little ground either. The venue of the first ever Ashes Test seats 100,000 people and has an interior not unlike a Wall Street AAA grade office. It is a very impressive stadium, where statues of fellows like Don Bradman remind you that they have been playing cricket here for a little while. It was Bradman’s favourite ground and he scored his first century here in 1929. He went on to make seven Test centuries here between World War I and II, highlighted by his 270 against England in January 1937. That match was attended by 350,534 spectators, a world cricket record which stood until the 1990’s.
Today was Adam Gilchrist’s last ever game at the MCG, a ground which has tested him more than most throughout his fine career. A poor crowd turned up at the dead rubber of a match to say goodbye to the player who changed the role of the wicketkeeper-batsman in international cricket. Gilchrist played as confidently as ever as he bade farewell to the Victoria faithful with a fluent 83 runs from only 50 balls. He was named man of the match for the fine innings.
A guard of honour was formed for Sanath Jayasuria, the magnificently attacking opening batsman whose aggressive style of getting after the opening bowlers not only won Sri Lanka the 1996 World Cup, but also revolutionised limited overs cricket. Today’s match was his last ever on the continent. The fact that his reflexes have slowed showed as the old master was again sluggish about moving his feet and he was caught by Michael Hussey off the bowling of Nathan Bracken for 23 runs.
Muttiah Muralitharan was no-balled on Boxing Day in 1995 at the MCG. He also looks to have played his last game here today. He was an instrumental part of his team’s success, taking two wickets at around four runs to the over.
Cricket can be a harsh game and Australia’s strained season has resulted in two victims, Shaun Tait and Brad Hogg. The former retired recently citing physical and mental exhaustion and the latter, who will retire at the end of this series, claims that the imminent birth of his child this year was behind his decision. Hogg’s solid 1 for 33 in ten overs was backed up with a useful 21 runs, which came in vain as Australia were bowled out chasing 222 for victory.
India will therefore feel they have the momentum going into the first final at the SCG on Sunday afternoon. It promises to be a fantastic finish to what has so far been a drawn out and uneventful series.
This article appeared on Cricket365 during the 2008 Commonwealth Bank Series between Australia, India and Sri Lanka.