Fan Following

First-person reports from the stands

Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat, Big Bash League, Sydney

Some smashing, some bashing

In the opening game, there was more entertainment in the stands than on the field

Byron Howard

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Brad Haddin on the attack during his half-century, Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat, Big Bash League, SCG, December 16, 2011
Brad Haddin: at home at T20 © Getty Images

Choice of game
With all the hype about this new league being the saviour of Australian cricket, I felt I couldn't miss the chance to make up my own mind. The chance to see Stuey MacGill and Matt Hayden battle it out live was also something of an incentive, I must admit.

Team supported
I supported the Sydney Sixers, not because I have any kind of geographical sentimentality as a Sydneysider, but because I could find a pink tee-shirt to wear to the ground more readily than the lurid, blue-green of the Brisbane Heat.

Key performer
Brad Haddin's recent offerings in Tests have been arguably more suited to the rashness of Twenty20, but his strokeplay was fluent and some of the sixes he hit seemed to barely brush the bat as he compiled more than half the opposition's score.

One thing I'd have changed
I would have made the Sixers bat first. Chasing 140 didn't seem to stretch them very much, and I would have preferred to see how much they could have posted first up.

Face-off I relished
Brett Lee v Brendon McCullum. Lee's first over was tight, and when he came back for his second he reminded McCullum of his still-frightening pace by drawing blood through his helmet with a misjudged bouncer. A helpful spectator sitting near me gave McCullum this parting advice as he retired hurt: "That's what your bat's for, mate!"

Wow moment
MacGill's entire spell was something to behold. With his ubiquitous white towel sticking from the top of his pants and his ever-present passion for bowling, he reminded the crowd of his appeal. So much so that when he was moved from deep third man into a short third man position away from the fans on the boundary, he was booed.

Close encounter
Some of the spectators didn't think much of Mitchell Starc's offerings in the recent Test series and let him know before the game even began. One shouted, "Hope you take a few more wickets in this form of the game, you chump!" The jeers continued when a misfield on the boundary led to a four.

Shot of the day - 1
While I'm tempted to give this to Haddin's six that hit the roof halfway up the Ladies Pavilion, it was an effortless six, whipped off his hips, which really showed his class.

Shot of the day - 2
Such was the glee with which my fellow spectators threw their empty and not-so-empty beer cups at a passing security guard that I missed seeing Sydney hit the winning runs. Some would say that seeing a member of the "fun police" showered with plastic would be worth the sacrifice.

Crowd meter
The crowd wasn't huge, but they were generally good-natured and noisy. Some of the attempts by promoters to drum up support in the stands fell embarrassingly flat when they didn't realise that most people had little passion for either team yet, this being their first outings.

In every match I've ever attended at the SCG, the members are booed for not participating in the obligatory Mexican wave. The members will be wondering what they are supposed to do, as they were booed this time even though they joined in the wave.

Some members of the crowd had more enthusiasm for the exploits of the cheerleaders than the men in the middle. Three middle-aged, topless men right on the fence began copying the moves of the cheerleaders as they performed in front of them, even going so far as to attempt to throw each other in the air when the girls did. Needless to say, the influence of alcohol and their somewhat larger frames lent their efforts a lot less grace than the cheerleaders'.

The biggest cheers were reserved for the elder statesmen of Australian cricket - MacGill, Hayden and Lee. From their performances on the night, this didn't seem to be purely sentimental; they put some of the younger players to shame.

Fancy-dress index
The Sixers handed out inflatable lie-lows to the best-dressed spectators at the ground, who got the opportunity to lie down in between the boundary rope and the fence. In this match, three Santas got the opportunity to watch from close to the action, and as far as I could see, the choice was valid.

Fireworks go off at the opening game of the Big Bash League, Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat, Big Bash League, SCG, December 16, 2011
Will Sydney Harbour match that on New Year's eve? © Getty Images

The pre-game entertainment was something of a let-down. No doubt in an attempt to connect with the mythical younger audience of T20, the organisers tasked a lone DJ, dancing awkwardly on a tiny stage while he manned the decks, to entertain the crowd. He and the PA had obviously been given explicit instructions to choose hit songs, for LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" was played time and time again. Mid-innings fireworks were a total surprise, and so too was their quality. They out-did the usual static flamethrowers placed on the boundary and were a genuine bright spot.

The integrity of the mid-innings crowd competition was thrown into question somewhat when the organisers "randomly" chose a group of young men wearing KFC buckets on their heads as the "lucky" spectators to get a chance in the Classic Catches competition. That only three of them managed to catch a ball did something to make the rest of us feel better.

Marks out of 10
6.5 The quality of this match was better than I expected, but the chase petered out towards the end after some early fireworks from Haddin and Nic Maddinson got the run-rate to under six an over. The game was effectively over as a contest halfway through Sydney's innings.

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Byron Howard gave up on his dream of wearing a baggy green when his Under-16s captain placed him at No. 11 in the batting order, despite not bowling a ball all match. Since this shattering blow, he has gone on to study media and communications at university, and likes to watch the highlights of the 2006-07 Ashes series whenever the current side collapses in a heap. The DVD has had something of a workout recently.

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Posted by Gordon on (December 17, 2011, 15:53 GMT)

Nice report! Good to know the crowd was giving Starc heaps.

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