Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Australia v England, fifth Test, Sydney, second day

No highs for Beer

Still, the Hoff was at the SCG but so were the fun police

Andrew Pelechaty

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Michael Beer thought he had his first Test wicket until Billy Bowden called no ball, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 2nd day, January 4, 2011
Michael Beer will just have to wait longer for his first Test wicket © Getty Images
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Choice of game
As a traditional fan of cricket, I always make an effort to go to a Test during the Australian summer, regardless of the opposition or the likelihood of Australian victory. The Ashes this summer was always going to be special. Unfortunately, due to other commitments (and a general slackness in getting tickets) I was unable to go to the opening game in Brisbane. Luckily, I was taking a trip to Sydney in early January, While many sporting stadiums are losing their charm in favour of bigger capacities and the chase for dollars, the SCG still has a traditional feel to it with the old stands.

Fast forward to early 2011 and the series was over. England had retained the Ashes, having brutalised the hosts in Adelaide and Melbourne and getting the better of a draw at the Gabba. There was still plenty for both teams to play for - a win or a draw would see England win the Ashes outright, while an Australian win would draw the series and finish their Test summer on a high. There were also the debuts of local boy Usman Khawaja and the Shane Warne-endorsed Michael Beer (though I thought Nathan Hauritz had been harshly done by), and the captaincy debut of the much-criticised Michael Clarke.

Team supported
Born in Canberra and living in Brisbane since 1993, I am duty-bound to support Australia. However, most of my supporting energy is devoted to my favourite football teams, so I don't really care if Australia win or lose, as long as the cricket is competitive. Like most people, I thought Australia's Ashes loss in 2005 was the best thing to happen to us. Not only did it unite the public behind an Australian team seen by some as arrogant and sore losers, but it re-energised interest in Test cricket. It's fair to say the 2006-07 Ashes series was the most anticipated in Australia since the days of the fearsome West Indies teams.

Key performers
Australia entered day two at 134 for 4, with fans hoping Mike Hussey, Brad Haddin and Steve Smith could push the Aussies to a competitive score. Twenty-five overs later, Australia were struggling at 189 for 8, with Jimmy Anderson removing Steve Smith and Peter Siddle in the space of four balls. As they have done most of the summer, the bowlers rescued Australia: Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus compiling 76 runs, helping Australia to 280. While Johnson hit five fours and one six, Hilfenhaus was hardly a shrinking violet, charging the England pacemen (despite missing regularly) and hitting three fours and a six. Hilfenhaus and Johnson continued their good work with the ball, taking all three wickets as England reached 167 for 3 after 48 overs, and leaving the game delicately poised entering day three.

Player watch
Michael Beer acquitted himself reasonably well in his first day of Test cricket. Not only was his opening run with the bat applauded loudly, he went for less than three an over, bowling for the majority of the time against the dangerous Kevin Pietersen, who almost single-handedly ended Xavier Doherty's Test career in Adelaide. His big moment came when Alastair Cook (on 46), attacked him and gave Hilfenhaus an easy catch at mid-on. Beer, delighted with an important first Test wicket, ran to celebrate, but umpire Billy Bowden called a referral for a possible no-ball. Surely the left-arm orthodox Beer couldn't have overstepped? When replays showed he did, the boos were deafening. Fortunately, Beer redeemed himself nine overs later, catching Pietersen off Mitchell Johnson for 36.

Shots of the day
The 40,000-strong crowd went nuts when 14 runs were scored off the last ball of the 98th over and the first two of the 99th over. Hilfenhaus started by hitting Tim Bresnan for six over long-on. Johnson carried the momentum in the next over, hitting the usually economical Graeme Swann for four and six over cow corner. It energised the crowd, who feared another below-average total.

Don't hassle the Hoff: David Hasselhoff at the SCG, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 2nd day, January 4, 2011
So was the Hoff all at sea watching cricket? © Getty Images

Crowd meter
Considering it was the first official working day back after the Christmas and New Year period, the crowd of 40, 257 was fairly impressive. The people around me - mainly young friends, both male and female - were in a jovial mood, keen to enjoy their day at cricket. This was helped by a pleasant day, starting out cloudy, but clearing up in the afternoon with a cool breeze ensuring it wasn't too hot (which, having spent so long in brutal Brisbane summers, I appreciated). The tone of the crowd was pro-Australian, with some more vocal than others. Of course, the Barmy Army were in full voice, with their usual repertoire of songs and chants. The crowd united late in the day when security kicked out someone who had built a snake out of empty beer cups. Many have criticised the "fun police" in Australian grounds, and this didn't help their reputation.

Marks out of 10
7. While not the most exciting day of the summer - that seems to belong to the dramatic first day in Brisbane and Peter Siddle's birthday hat-trick - there were 313 runs scored for nine wickets. Atmospherically, the game had few bright spots aside from the upbeat crowd - Johnson and Hilfenhaus' tail-end defiance comes to mind, as well as the Beer no-ball controversy, and even a touch of celebrity - Michael Parkinson and "The Hoff" were spotted in the crowd - but it had its slow patches too, especially when England openers got off to a good start, quelling the crowd's enthusiasm. Compared to the MCG Test - which England had virtually won after the first day - this Test looks to be in the balance entering day three.

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Andrew Pelechaty is a lifelong cricket fan (and Collingwood supporter). His favourite players are Nathan Hauritz and Brad Haddin. He has played sub-district cricket for Coorparoo since 1998 and - despite a lack of natural talent - has managed to take over 100 wickets and win a bowling trophy. He also writes match reports for the club in the local paper. He is currently doing a journalism degree at Griffith University and has an interest in proofreading.

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