A cricket story everywhere

Daniel Brettig
When in Adelaide, you can't take a step without being reminded of the game's history

So you've visited Adelaide Oval, reconfigured as a 21st-century football stadium that hosts cricket in the summer. Where to now then?

Walk out from the southern gates, left along Memorial Drive towards King William St, where you take the right turn. Up the gentle incline towards the city, past the River Torrens, Elder Park, the Festival Centre, and State Parliament on North Terrace. Up one block you turn right again, down Hindley Street and its assortment of shops, bars, red-light-district neon and burgeoning laneway diversions.

Halfway down this street, again on your right, step into the garish pub on the corner with Morphett Street. This is the Rosemont, a watering hole of no airs or graces but a long history. Thirty-four years ago it was known as the Overway Hotel, and one late summer lunchtime Ian Chappell was having a meal at the bar when the phone rang. It was the journalist Alan Shiell, fortuitously finding the right location at which to inform Chappell that he was to replace Bill Lawry and become the new Australian captain.

Many such moments and places of importance to the game are scattered about the city of Adelaide, a place Chappell, Clem Hill, Darren Lehmann, Jason Gillespie, and of course Sir Donald Bradman, have all called home. Its CBD is compact, easy to walk around, and notable for its neat, grid design and wide streets - the roads often likened to the oval's batsman-friendly pitch. But there is more to the city and the state than Bradman, though the collection that bears his name at the oval is well worth an hour or two.

Cricketers both local and touring have enjoyed Adelaide and its surrounding areas in more ways than one. In the years of rest days, the Sunday of an Adelaide Test was invariably spent on a visit to the Barossa Valley and the Yalumba wine estate of Wyndham Hill-Smith in Angaston. The likes of Ian Botham have retained friends and even taken up a financial interest in affairs of the vine at least partly because of these idyllic afternoons.

Adelaide's CBD is compact, easy to walk around, and notable for its neat, grid design and wide streets - the roads often likened to the oval's batsman-friendly pitch

Another bowler of more recent vintage has cast his lot in with a notable pub to Adelaide's south-east. Shaun Tait, he of the 160kph barrier, now owns a stake in the Hotel Elliot, a centrepiece of Port Elliot, the pleasant beachside town that splits Victor Harbor and Goolwa near Encounter Bay. Tait was holed up in his room at the Holiday Inn after Australia's drawn Test against India in January 2008 when he chose to step away from international cricket, and on a winding road since, he has been as happy pouring beers at the Elliot as he ever was hurling down bouncers at the world's best batsmen.

The day Tait conceded his state of mental and physical exhaustion, Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds were over the other side of the city's central Victoria Square, tangled up in the legal web created by the Australians' allegation of racial abuse against Harbhajan and India's furious appeal.

That day's events were confused and unsatisfactory to many, but their venue is worth a look. The Roma Mitchell Commonwealth Law Court Building was opened in 2006 and is among the most striking features of the skyline, particularly its oval conical tower, designed to resemble an opal. Australian cricket administrators have been known to marvel at the design while in the same breath hoping they never have to walk through its doors again.

Apart from the Rosemont, there are numerous bars and pubs with more than a passing role in cricket's winding Adelaide tale. Back along Hindley Street, the Apothecary 1878 is a venue that can escape the attention of all but the most attentive street wanderers, and it is for this reason that many a cricketer and commentator has chosen it for an out-of-the-way drink or dinner - Tony Greig was a regular.

Two North Adelaide pubs have been particularly loved down the years. The Queen's Head on Kermode St has always been a favoured spot for Adelaide Oval's ground staff and many other cricket types besides, its numerous makeovers mirroring the oval's evolution. A little older-world in look and decor is the British Hotel on Finniss Street, which lives up to its name in choices of ale while also offering the chance to barbecue one's own steak in the back beer garden.

Adelaide's inner eastern suburbs are a leafy home to numerous cricket grounds, and the suburb of Kensington has also harboured the home club of Bradman, Greg Blewett and numerous others. The Kensington Hotel is the home patch for the former South Australia left-arm paceman and now SACA board member Sam Parkinson, and the international umpire Steve Davis is also happy to call it his local.

Doubling back to the oval, its hosting of a World Cup quarter-final in 2015 will be a chance to add to what is an already significant if quirky place in the history of the tournament. Adelaide was the venue where Pakistan secured the point that took them into the 1992 semi-finals ahead of co-hosts Australia, if in the most fortuitous of circumstances. The same heavy air that aided England's seam attack in skittling the eventual champions for 74 shed a lengthy rain storm in the afternoon, washing out a match that could otherwise have had only one winner.

Twenty-three years later the oval has changed irrevocably, but in the town it is still possible to read the views of Alan Ross in Australia '55 and have a good idea of what he was talking about. His description of the walk down to the ground depicts the journey you took earlier but in reverse, away from the Rosemont and towards the cricket. "A ten-minute walk down a broad tree-lined avenue takes in a swimming pool, Turkish baths, a jocular round bandstand, and grassy slopes spreading to a river... families sit picnicking on the banks, much as Renoir or Seurat might have painted them..."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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