Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Australia v West Indies, second Twenty20, Sydney

Where the party's at

The SCG had the feel of an after-semester do. No one much minded that one side didn't really show up

Damith Samarakoon

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Steven Smith celebrates his stunning outfield catch of Travis Dowlin, Australia v West Indies, 2nd T20, Sydney, February 23, 2010
Steven Smith rocks the house with a smoking catch © Getty Images
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Choice of game
Having watched the rest of the cricket this Australian summer on the telly, I felt that a Twenty20 game probably offered the neutral fan the best bang for their buck. There was a certain buzz that had built up. It was the last match of the summer and people were expecting the Aussies to finish things up on a high. It was also to be the first game I was watching outside Sri Lanka and I could barely contain myself, knowing it would be at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground.

Team supported
I had decided to stop calling the team Australia played against by its real name. Instead, I call it "The team Chris Gayle plays in", out of respect for their once-world-champion status. I knew I would be in the minority and that it could well be a long night (well, a long four hours). But yes, it was them I supported.

Key performers
Shaun Tait and David Warner.

Tait only picked up one wicket but he set the tone early with his blitzkrieg pace. There were oohs and aahs every time he clocked 150-plus. The slow pitch was probably the only reason he didn't hit 160. There weren't too many hit in front of the wicket when Tait had the ball.

Chasing 140 might have been tricky, but with the first ball Warner faced, all lingering doubts were killed off and Australia were rocketing to their target. He really got the crowd going mental, and he got a standing ovation when he reached his fifty.

One thing I'd have changed
I was really hoping for a decent performance from the team Chris Gayle plays in, and for that the man himself needed to fire. He did, briefly, including a six to the members stand, but it was all too little. Another thing I wanted to see was Dirk Nannes and Tait bowl together.

I also wouldn't have minded better seats!

Face-off I relished
Gayle v Tait. It wasn't the most classic encounter, though. Gayle wafted at a few and generally looked a bit uncomfortable facing up to Tait. The Wild Thing on the other hand looked like an assassin hellbent on some headshots. I can't remember too many deliveries being pitched up.

Wow moment
Steve Smith's catch to get rid of Travis Dowlin. Nobody really expected him to take it because he was a fair way in from the line and the crowd was mute for a second when he leapt in the air. Pandemonium followed when he somehow came up with the ball in his hands. Nothing got a bigger cheer on the night.

Player watch
Tait, Watson, Hussey and Warner fielded near where I was sitting. They all got thunderous applause whenever they got to field the ball. Tait was actually dismissed to the boundary after bowling two overs at the start. And from where I was sitting he didn't seem too impressed with the decision. Someone yelled out, "If you were only as quick on your feet, son" when Tait failed to get to a catch.

Shot of the day
Any one of David Warner's sixes would do, really. The one that stood out and set the tone was off the first ball he faced and it really amped up the crowd. There was no having-a-look, getting-your-eye-in stuff there. Short. Bye bye.

Crowd meter
The crowd built up slowly and by the first over there was a huge buzz around the ground. There were many announcements before the game about it being the last of the summer, so it appeared Sydneysiders were really out to have a bit of a party.

Naturally they were all supporting Australia, but there were a few cheers for West Indies as well. There were big inflated balls being bounced around the crowd, kids running around to try and get autographs, and lots of light beer.

At one point the Mexican wave was started and it got around to the members stand, where it stopped. That got the most massive boo of the night. (I got the feeling this is something that happens often). Eventually the rest of us were able to wear them down and the whole ground took part.

Fancy-dress index
It seemed like half the stand I was in had a KFC bucket on their head. There weren't too many outlandish outfits but there were a lot of people with the yellow and gold on their faces. There was also a large helping of the giant inflated hands that the kids seemed to love.

Shaun Tait celebrates one of his three wickets, Australia v West Indies, 1st Twenty20, Hobart, February 21, 2010
Tait: quick, but not on his feet © Getty Images
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Entertainment
Fireworks were set off every time a wicket was taken or a six was hit. And there was plenty of music in between. Fittingly, they played Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" when Darren Sammy came out to face Shaun Tait.

During the innings break they had a prize giveaway if you were able to catch balls that were sent miles up in the air with a bowling machine. I have to say there were quite a few embarrassed Aussies after none of the four contestants got anywhere near for at least 15 minutes. Eventually someone did take one, which brought about a huge cheer from the crowd.

Accessories
My trusty point-and-shoot camera, a muffin, and the quintessentially Australian beef pie.

Overall
It was a one-sided game from start to finish. As it has been all summer. The Australians were in complete control and were quite brilliant in the field. You felt for the West Indians, though. It has been a long, unrewarding tour for them.

I am not the biggest fan of Twenty20 cricket but it's easy to see why people love it so much. The atmosphere resembled an after-semester party. Everyone just came to have a good time and to enjoy a bit of cricket. Which, from all accounts, they thoroughly did.

Marks out of 10
An easy 9. It would have been 10 if Chris Gayle's team had decided to show up.

It was amazing to be at this historic venue for the first time, seeing the members stand and feeling the atmosphere. Everything was so well organised and well catered-for. I only had to wait 15 minutes to catch a bus back as well. This will definitely be the start of a long relationship between me and the SCG, and I'm already counting down the days to when Sri Lanka tour in November. At least we know the cricket will be better.

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Damith Samarakoon is a Sri Lankan cricket fanatic living in Sydney. He blogs regularly at www.theflyslip.net. Having narrowly escaped losing his day job due to "family emergencies" when the cricket's on, Damith can now be found pretending to be an allrounder for his local grade team - The Thunderdogs. His goal in life is to convince his wife to go to a cricket game

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