Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 2nd day

The MCG's makeover

Peter English on the changes being made to the MCG

Peter English at the MCG

December 27, 2005

Text size: A | A



The MCG keeps evolving as a modern-day stadium as the years roll by © Getty Images
Enlarge

A red-and-white crane joins the light towers as the current guardians of the MCG. Next month, it will disappear as the transformation of the ground from a huge cavern to a humungous one is completed. The extra capacity is only about 10,000, but the spectacular and uniform changes add more than volume to the modern-day coliseum.

When the Great Southern Stand was finished in 1992, it was hard to believe that it could be improved. A decade later, the replacement Ponsford and Olympic stands and members' areas are bigger, better, more comfortable and probably louder. More than 71,000 spectators arrived for day one and there was still breathing space in the upper reaches where telescopes and a love of heights are prerequisites.

Cricket was not the main focus of the A$434 million redevelopment - the second Test is the only game to be played here this season - but it will benefit from the 2006 Commonwealth Games project. Expect a ground record for next summer's Boxing Day Ashes Test when the capacity will be more than 94,000. The current mark sits at 90,800 for the 1960-61 match against Frank Worrell's West Indians.

Forty-five years later, the ground is as unrecognisable as the eight running-track lanes currently buried under the turf that was clattered by the boundaries of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. The tartan surface will reappear after this match and be the focal point for the athletics meet in March.

The demolition began in 2002, and 55% of the ground was rebuilt to produce a gleaming new model. For supporters, the seats are 80% bigger - the corporate ones have cushioning - and the dining rooms are larger while the players benefit from new change-rooms in the Ponsford Stand and practice facilities that include indoor nets. One pitch has even been made to replicate a spin-friendly surface.

A sparkling stadium is not the only thing attracting supporters to the Test, with Cricket Victoria introducing a Ladies' Day that it hopes will match similar sporting occasions such as Melbourne's spring racing carnival. Today was the designated event and Belinda Clark, the greatest female batter in Australian women's cricket who retired after the Ashes loss, was honoured with a motorcade at tea, but the women lining up for the 500 special gift packs before lunch missed Hussey's exciting race towards his century.

The material handed out to the "uninitiated" ladies included definitions of terms - "lbw stands for `leg before wicket' and is the way a batter can be given out" - and other tips about cricket-watching. "Don't be alarmed when you see the bowler rubbing the ball in a certain spot," the ticket-briefing reads. "They're not scratching an itch down there, but simply shining up one side of the ball."

Day three is promoted as family day and involves a mass walk with Merv Hughes, the current Australia selector, from the centre of Melbourne to the ground over a specially-made footbridge. All Victorian roads now seem to lead to the new MCG.

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Peter English

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Peter EnglishClose

    Ronchi's blitz, and remarkable ODI recoveries

Ask Steven: Also, the fastest ODI 150s, and the highest Test totals without a half-century

    Penalty runs the best punishment for slow over rates

Ashley Mallett: Fines and suspensions have had no effect. Awarding the opposition runs for every over a team falls short in a Test innings will definitely bite harder

    Pietersen stars in his own muppet show

David Hopps: His rubbishing of many aspiring English county professionals brings to mind the belief of Miss Piggy that "there is no one in the world to compare with moi"

    How to construct an ODI chase

Michael Bevan: Focus on targets smaller than winning the match, and back your tailenders to deliver for you

Who is the BBL aimed at?

Michael Jeh: There's nothing wrong with the quality of the cricket on offer, but the bells and whistles surrounding it are intrusive and overwhelming

News | Features Last 7 days

Kohli at No. 4 - defensive or practical?

It seems Virat Kohli is to not bat before the 12th or 13th over to strengthen the middle and the lower middle order. It suggests a lack of confidence in what was supposed to be India's strength in their title defence: their batting

Open with Rohit and Binny, with Kohli at No. 3

India's batting is going the way of their bowling in Australia, and they need get their order sorted before the World Cup

Off-stump blues leave Dhawan flailing

The out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan still has the backing of his captain, but there's no denying his slump has arrived at an inconvenient time for India and his technical issues have to be sorted out before they attempt to defend the World Cup

On TV it looks uglier than it actually is

Often reasonable arguments on the field look nasty beyond the boundary and on camera

'Teams can't have set formula' - Dravid

In the first episode of Contenders, a special ten-part buildup to the 2015 World Cup, Rahul Dravid and Graeme Smith discuss the impact of local conditions on team compositions and the issues surrounding the format of the tournament

News | Features Last 7 days