Save Test cricket at the SCG

You may have heard that Cricket Australia is contemplating moving all cricket to Telstra Stadium, including Test cricket. We must act now to stop this, before the decision. Not just because my good friend andrewg just got his SCG Membership but because the SCG is not just a ground, it is a spiritual home. Below is the letter I sent to Cricket Australia.

Open letter to Cricket Australia

Dear Sir or Madam

I have heard various reports that Cricket Australia is considering moving Test and ODI cricket to Telstra Stadium (or whatever name the Olympic Stadium goes by these days). I have taken this long to write to you because to be honest, I thought that the idea was so ridiculous that I didn’t consider that this could really happen. But as I have heard more about it, I have become alarmed. Thus, I have written this letter.

I have nothing against Telstra Stadium. It is truly magnificent. I have seen Olympic athletics there. Among other things I have also seen a Rugby League grand final and the Rugby Union “match of the century” with a world record crowd to see the All Blacks. The stadium has many virtues. I believe that I could live with the “pyjama game” being played at Telstra stadium.

However, I cannot understand why Cricket Australia would even consider moving Test cricket away from the SCG, one of the great spiritual homes of world cricket. For starters, it is round – the correct shape for a cricket ground. Then there are the beautiful old stands. The Members and the Ladies stands are an important part of the character of the SCG. But that is just a start.

I cannot think of game where history and tradition is more important than Test cricket. It is important to me that all of the great cricketers of the world have played cricket at the SCG. When I go to watch cricket there, I am looking at a ground where the great cricketers of the past have trod. I have read the autobiographies of many cricketers: Benaud, Miller, McCartney, Giffen and Bradman to name a few. Most like to discuss their favourite grounds of the world and all include the SCG.

I have my own traditions at the SCG. I went to my first Test match in 1975-76 when I was eight years old. On that day, 55,000 packed the SCG to watch the West Indies. I have attended every Test at the SCG since 1993-94. My eldest daughter came to her first Test match when she was seven years old. That was four years ago and she has been to every match since. My next daughter has turned seven and she is due to see the West Indies this summer. The thought of not taking her to the SCG causes me incredible distress. The blood drains from my head. I feel faint. I could vomit.

Perhaps you feel that this is an over reaction about a game. But if you truly know cricket lovers, you will know that I am typical – very passionate about the game. I cannot believe that CA would be so out of touch with reality that they would consider moving Test cricket away from the SCG. It would be akin to the MCC moving cricket away from Lords.

If this should ever happen, it would cause me great grief, but on principle, I would not attend Test cricket.


David Ongley

I urge you, my fellow cricket lovers to email Cricket Australia. We must make a stand. At the very least, copy and paste mine, change the personal experiences and send it. It will take just five minutes of your time.

Cricket Australia’ email address is:

If you wish to contact Cricket Australia by post, send mail to:

Cricket Australia
60 Jolimont Street
Victoria, 3002

Thorpe’s Day

No need to panic – I’m not going to subject my cricket readership to Olympics reports.

Not that Thorpe. The other one.

Last night, Graham Thorpe made his 15th Test century (114 from 239 balls), against the Windies. Match status: The West Indies lead by 226 with 1 second innings wicket in hand. One day of play remains. Day 2 was completely lost – Old Trafford strikes again.

Sri Lanka put South Africa away by a whopping 313 runs, and secured the series 1 nil. Vaas took 6-29 as South Africa capitulated for under 200 for the second time in the match.

Rule Britannia

On the other side of the world, there is a Test series being played and one side is winning handsomely. You guessed it. That team is good old England.

England has played five of the six scheduled Tests in this home summer and they have won them all – in fine style. They beat the Kiwis 3-0 (who were competitive for half of each Test) and are 2-0 up against the West Indies. The two wins against the West Indies could better be described as slaughters.

In fact, England has recently reclaimed second spot on the ICC Test Championship race. Australia is still out in front with a rating of 129. Then follows England (107), South Africa (106), Pakistan (105) and India (104). This is in the balance as South Africa is engaged in a vital Test at present in Sri Lanka (the 2nd of the two test series, which currently stands at 0-0).

England’s most recent tour was to the Caribbean where they won 3-0. The last Test of the series was drawn when Lara scored 400.

In summary, England has won their last five Tests and eight of the last nine. Cause for excitement.

In the first two Tests of the current series, English batsmen have scored seven centuries with no less than five different batsmen passing three figures. More cause for excitement.

Vaughan achieved the rare feat of twin centuries in the 1st Test and Trescothick repeated the dose in the 2nd Test. (Also note that Chanderpaul went very close in the 1st Test, scoring 128 not out and 97 not out.)

Ashley Giles has carried the bowling with 18 wickets thus far. Cause for a coronary!

With all these great feats, England must be looking forward to the summer of 2005. Surely they will finally roll the frail and aging Aussies, for the first time since 1987. Hmmm.

It will be interesting. Surely the English will put up the best fight for a long time. But before the Poms get too excited, they should consider a few things:

1. I seem to recall the English side being highly rated before the last two series and they were completely annihilated.

2. The West Indies cannot be regarded as any sort of Test. They are an embarrassment to their wonderful heritage. They are ranked 8th (76 points) on the Test ladder and a long way from the 7th placed Kiwis.

3. It is hard to find a way of comparing the three top nations. The last time Australia played England, it wasn’t pretty but 18 months is a long time in cricket. I have found one reasonable yardstick. England played Sri Lanka, in Sri Lanka, in the past twelve months and lost 1-0. Australia played there recently and won 3-0. And South Africa is currently engaged there, and struggled to a draw in the only completed match. Interesting.

I will say this in England’s favour: Two things will be different in 2005.

1. Their team is full of men in their prime. And more importantly, most of them have not known a great history of defeat against Australia. Sure, most of them have tasted defeat but it hasn’t become an expectation. The old guard is gone: Stewart, Atherton, Hussain, Caddick, Butcher, Croft, Gough, Crawley and a long list of others. When I consider these names I think of dejected men walking from the field with their heads down.

The new lions are: Vaughan, Trescothick, Strauss, Harmison, Jones and Jones.

Blow me down, even Robert Key scored 221. Either Key has “done a Hayden” (ie jumped that large gap from mediocrity to super star) or the Windies really are complete crapp.

And I have left a paragraph for the Great White Hope: Andrew Flintoff. Perhaps Flintoff has come of age. He is awe inspiring when in full flight and has now scored 4 Test centuries and picked up one bag of five wickets. His overall batting average is just 31 but he has averaged 55 in the last 10 matches. His overall bowling average is 38 but in the past 10 Tests it has been 25. That could represent an improvement that makes Flintoff a world-beater or it could be an indication that he has been playing against sub-standard opposition. I think it’s a bit of both.

2. The Australian side will not have any Waughs. I don’t think this will cause Australia any great disadvantage but I’m pretty sure a few of those Pommies were scared of Stephen Rodger Waugh.

As for Australia, the batting is going to be good. No question. The bowling will depend to a large extent on how McGrath and Warne are firing in 12 months time. There are a lot of balls to be bowled before that and time will tell.

I personally, can’t wait for the 2005 Ashes series.