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First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
This was the first game of the Big Bash season and conveniently on a Friday night. It was easy to get to on the train after work as it was being played at the Docklands Stadium in Melbourne. Before the game I definitely thought the Stars were going to win.
My team is the Renegades. Before the first season of the Big Bash, I picked the Renegades for something different - they play at a football stadium that had only occasionally hosted cricket matches previously. I would love to see the Renegades win some more games than last season and make the semi-finals.
Aaron Finch was easily the most influential player in the game, blitzing a 60-ball century which was littered with big hits into the crowd. He also took a wicket.
One thing I'd have changed
I wish the Renegades had made the stadium more their own. Last year they covered the AFL players' names at the ends of the stadium with the names of two Victorian cricket legends involved at the Renegades: Dean Jones and Merv Hughes. It would have been good to see that again.
Face-off I relished
Finch weathered the storm against Lasith Malinga. He didn't score many runs, but crucially, he didn't get out.
The mid-innings entertainment was a motorcross spectacular, with four stunt cyclists performing tricks and jumps from two ramps on the back of trucks. Fireworks were also part of the mix for good measure. The highlight was two of the stunt cyclists being set on fire as they performed their jumps.
We sat on level 2, which has the best viewing seats in the stadium. Aaron O'Brien from the Renegades fielded near us and had good support from the crowd after kicking a couple of beach balls back into the stands. Brad Hodge fielded in front of us for the Stars and was heckled by a few fans for being a traitor since he swapped from the Renegades to the Stars in the off-season.
Shots of the day
The most memorable shots were the two sixes hit by Ben Rohrer off consecutive balls from Shane Warne. They went into the same section of the crowd and it felt like the Renegades would win after those big hits.
The stands on level 1 and 2 were pretty full, but level 3 was sparsely populated. There were only 23,500 in the ground, less than half the ground capacity, which was a little disappointing. I was expecting a crowd of about 35,000. Warney got the biggest cheers, and there were some sections of the crowd doing the hero-worship bowing and chanting "Warney, Warney".Warne also got the biggest Bronx cheer when he cleanly fielded a ball after having dropped an easy catch the previous ball. The crowd seemed to be pretty evenly split between Stars and Renegades fans.
There was one Banana in Pajamas running up and down the stairs near the sightscreen, doing push-ups on the fence. He seemed to be warming up to streak across the ground. When a security guard wandered around the boundary line toward the sightscreen, Banana in Pajamas promptly ran up the stairs into the stands and wasn't seen again.
There was a lot of pre-match build-up. The motocross guys were doing stunts on their ramps. The Renegades mascot and "President" (a comedian) ran through an AFL-style banner. A group of dancers dressed in black feathers and pads and helmets danced and moshed near the boundary rope before the players took the field.
During the game, there were minor celebrities interviewed by the ground announcer, who also dropped a six on the boundary. The dancers moved from the ground to a platform halfway up the stands and continued to bust out the moves in their outfits throughout the evening. Between overs the Fan Cam spotted Renegades fans in the crowd and showed them on the big screen. Smoke machines ringed the boundary and were set off any time a boundary was hit or a wicket fell. The stumps and bails had flashing lights in them that were set off when the stumps were broken. "Welcome to the Jungle" seems to be the Renegades song and was on high rotation on the PA.
ODIs v Twenty20s
Twenty 20 is my preferred format because you can head down after work on a weeknight and get to watch the whole game. If ODIs went to split innings, it could really be a hit with spectators.
Banner of the day
There were a few generic posters that Renegades fans had been given, saying things like "Red Army", but there was only one homemade sign that I spotted. It had a picture of Nathan Rimmington and "RIMMO - GADE" written on it. It looked like a lot of effort had been put into making it. The boy holding it did try tirelessly to get on the Fan Cam between overs without luck.
Marks out of 10
8. The quality of the cricket was top-notch, with a lot of internationals on display, and the innings from Finch was a gem. The crowd was healthy and was kept entertained throughout the match. The tickets were great value for money. A few more spectators might have added to the atmosphere.
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Ross Slater is a keen follower of international cricket and, in particular, Australian domestic cricket. He supports Victoria and is a Renegades supporter. He is a very modestly talented cricketer and writer in equal measure but keeps giving it a go. He gets along to a variety of cricket each season, varying from local club cricket, Melbourne premier cricket, Shield, List A, Big Bash, Tests and ODIs.
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