February 21, 2009

Brydon Coverdale on Australia in South Africa 2008-09

When spectators get a taste of the action

Brydon Coverdale
Doug Bollinger and Ricky Ponting have a word, South African Board President's XI v Australians, Potchefstroom, 1st day, February 20, 2009
 © Getty Images


"Patrons are reminded that they are not permitted on the playing arena at any time." That's the usual message that is broadcast over the PA system at cricket grounds around Australia, regardless of whether it's an international match, a state fixture or a tour game.

So it was rather unexpected to hear the announcement as the players left the field for lunch on the second day of Australia's warm-up game - a first-class match - against the South African Board President's XI in Potchefstroom. The PA system delivered a message telling the fans they were allowed to run amok on the oval during the break, though perhaps not in those words.

Being a Saturday, several hundred fans had turned up and they didn't need to be told twice. Soon there were dozens of mini-cricket matches being played by kids in the outfield and some of the bowling looked just as dangerous as anything offered by the two proper teams on a flat pitch.

Other spectators went for an inspection of the pitch, although they were stopped from getting on the centre square by a group of security guards holding up a protective tape. It meant the day was actually fun for the spectators and it was a refreshing change at an international venue.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Brydon Coverdale
Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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