Is there a World Cup on?
Bankstown is as pretty as promised, with a cream picket fence dotted with official sponsors’ boards, and plenty of grassy banks to choose from
I felt a good vibe about Sydney from the moment I stepped off the red-eye flight from sun-scorched Adelaide this morning. I hopped on a purring train, (reminiscent of the double-deckers in Paris) and smoothed slowly out to the south-west towards Padstow where I was to change for a bus to Bankstown.
The first thing that struck me as the train whispered along is that the rolling, house-lined hills of Sydney are green, very green and quite open; a complete contrast to the clunky Tube ride from Heathrow into cluttered London.
The next point of note was that few outside the ground had any knowledge that the World Cup was going on in their area. At the newsagent to buy some dictaphone batteries, no clue. On the bus, the driver didn’t even know which stop for Bankstown Oval. “Cricket?” he spat, disgusted. Then again, he didn’t know much at all – he was new to the job and unfamiliar with the roads. The passengers who tried to help also had no idea where the ground was, nor that the World Cup was on.
There is more media coverage than ever for the game, but as Rachael Heyhoe-Flint lamented on Cricinfo
recently, more is needed. There are no posters near the venue, no obvious signs at any stations that the women’s premier tournament is live and kicking.
Coming over from South Australia, I had been hopeful. There, a club team-mate of mine headed into the post office in Port Adelaide with her Australia supporter shirt on. “Ah, the women’s World Cup. Karen Rolton and Emma Sampson from the Port are playing,” said the assistant, most encouragingly, before adding: “Are you in the team?” She wasn’t. At least players’ names are getting recognised, if not so much their faces.
Still looking for the ground, I arrived at an oval, but it was for AFL. A nice man took pity on me and my suitcase and offered to drive me round to the cricket ground, which was adjacent. He introduced himself as Lindsay as we walked to his car. Now kids, you should never accept lifts from strangers, but I have to say I trusted Lindsay and his steed.
I tried to convince him and his sons to come to the cricket, but they were not to be swayed; perhaps on Monday when Australia are here. “The boys only really watch Foxtel, though,” Lindsay said. “No problem,” I replied. “All North Sydney Oval matches are on Foxtel.” “Ah, then that’s OK,” he smiled, and dropped me off.
Bankstown is as pretty as promised, with a cream picket fence dotted with official sponsors’ boards, and plenty of grassy banks to choose from. Most preferred the covered grandstand named after Kevin McCormick from which to barrack for their side, although they were stationed square of the wicket.
The press were also side on, in the Stephen and Mark Waugh stand. If Bowral is Bradman’s Oval, then Bankstown is the Waughs’, their home ground and also that of Jeff Thomson.
Before the game, the insipid song – Here We Go – which is the theme of the World Cup rang out around the ground. The later music was more vibrant and uplifting – including Blame it on the Boogie, Celebrate – and, rather more bizarrely, the Birdie Song. But the sides didn’t need music to uplift them. Besides which, there was plenty of loud support for both teams, with a pleasing variety of old and young, men and women, all soaking up the atmosphere of an entertaining Saturday.
Jenny Roesler is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo