The Ashes – the last rites

So that’s that then. England outgunned and outclassed, and defeated 4-0. I’ll leave the post-mortem to the many excellent cricket journalists of the world (Mike Atherton being my personal favourite – you can read many of his Ashes columns without the Times paywall on The Australian website), but I had to share the fabulous photo from my seat close to the back of the Victor Trumper stand!

I went to Days 2, 3 and 5. The former two I had tickets for thanks to my cousin, had family days out with her, her husband and my aunt / her mum, and enjoyed superb (if very expensive) seats up high behind the bowler’s arm. And, critically given the recent heatwave, in the shade all day. I enjoyed being there for Jane McGrath day, where spectators are encouraged to wear pink and donate to the breast cancer charity set up in memory of the late wife of the great Australian bowler, Glenn. The sight of swathes of the ground wearing pink (and the commentary teams in hideous pink suits) was quite a spectacle, some advertisers had special pink boards, and the Ladies’ Pavilion was renamed the Jane McGrath pavilion with a bright pink sign. Most importantly, over $1.3 million was raised during the game for a cause close to my heart.

I skipped Day 4 on the basis that the match position, weather forecast (43 degrees!!) and ticket price ($149 for a seat in the shade) and distance I was staying from central Sydney didn’t add up. But Day 5 was a case of “why not?”. I had a day with no concrete plans, admission was by “gold coin donation” ($1/$2) to sit anywhere, a recently-made friend was going, and, having seen ten of the previous 24 days of the series, it felt apt to be there for the last rites. England lasted well past lunch, which beat my expectations, and I had a very pleasant half day chatting with a backdrop of cricket. And ten minutes after close of play they let us onto the pitch, which was rather fun too.

I’ve been to the SCG before, but not not for eleven years. Glenn McGrath is clearly biased when he says it’s the best ground in the world, but I can see the case. It’s a big stadium – capacity of around 50,000 after its most recent redevelopment – but retains a far more traditional cricket ground feel than Melbourne, especially as the old pavilion has been left largely unchanged. And that view is hard to beat…

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