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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Finch gets close to fire ... SA on fire beats Aussies at Adelaide

Decades ago, when Gavaskar or Gundappa Viswanath made runs at Chepauk, the ardent fan would run into the stadium, greet and get back …. Slowly restrictions came – and at some point time, they had barbed wire fence (actually double layered fence) at Chepauk – Police cops would stand facing the crowd tethering their movement.  IPL was no different – milling crowds - hot days, made hotter by the lights – no facilities, winding narror  make shift barricades and rude volunteers, no decent rest rooms, water starved toilets – nothing is allowed inside including water bottles –  things sold  at exorbitant prices. Inside the stadiums loudspeakers would blare songs of all languages and there would be cacophony.  One can see Sivamani drum dishing out music and Tamil (or Hindi or Telegu hits) could be heard by the 5th delivery …. Then there were those scantily clad cheerleaders -  (Pune Warriors’ cheerleaders were always in traditional dress jumping to all non-traditional music !)

The Adelaide Oval remains one of cricket's most picturesque Test venues despite recent developments to increase the capacity and upgrade the facilities. The ground opened in 1873. In 1932-33, the Bodyline affair reached its nadir at The Oval when Bill Woodfull and Bert Oldfield were struck, and on the third day mounted police patrolled to keep the 50, 962 spectators in order. Now at the same Adelaide, Kyle Abbott harried Australia's batsmen and Rilee Rossouw achieved the rare feat of putting Quinton de Kock in the shade during a stand of 129 as South Africa secured a vast opening win in the Twenty20 match at Adelaide Oval. Three days after they were comfortably beaten by a Cricket Australia Invitational XI in Sydney, the tourists combined impressively with ball and bat to deliver Australia's third consecutive international defeat, albeit against two distinctly different teams in two vastly different formats on opposite sides of the globe.

The score card would read : South Africa 3 for 145 (Rossouw 78, de Kock 46) beat Australia 6 for 144 (Watson 47, Faulkner 41*, Abbott 3-21) by seven wickets………… more interestingly, Cricket Australia has apologised to T20 captain Aaron Finch after he had a close call with an artificial flame-thrower during the series-opening loss to South Africa last night.

Finch was shocked when a burst of coloured flames were deployed just as he went to pick up ball from over the Adelaide Oval boundary line. "We have apologised to Aaron for the incident last night," a Cricket Australia spokesman said. "We have clear operating procedures in place for the use of pyrotechnics at  matches. "They include strict rules about safe operating distances with respect to players and fans. "Clearly there was a breach of that last night which we take very seriously and have addressed with the contractor concerned."

At the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday, Finch was doing what most of the Australians were doing all night, chasing leather to the boundary during the seven-wicket loss to a South African team parading only about seven recognisable names. The ball trickled over the modern equivalent of the picket fence and Finch knew the artificial flamethrower was scheduled to do its thing. Every boundary in T20 is followed by fireworks. Finch paused like a kid thinking twice about retrieving his taped ball when it’s gone into the neighbour’s backyard.  Finch stared at the flame-throwing contraption. The contraption stared back at him. Finch assumed it was safe to proceed and then ... not to be !!  Four giant flames licked the sky and very nearly, the  skipper. He was about a metre away from losing more than an eyebrow and was clearly rattled in having to be so much  nearer the flame.  An expletive letting Finch was unhurt. But he was shaken.

It was a shock and could have been  quite dangerous. Finch claimed his ex-teammate David Hussey had a brush with the burning issue at the same ground. “I think it might have been last year, or the year before, when Dave Hussey almost got his head blown off,” Finch said. “Probably a bit more care has to be taken towards the player.”

T20 is renowned for its entertainment, including music and flame-throwers – but more than the entertainment, its safety of players and spectators that is important.  The T20 capain  is questioning if the safety of players and spectators is given enough consideration by Cricket Australia, when organising the extra entertainment such as the flamethrowers.  A flamethrower is a mechanical incendiary device designed to project a long, controllable stream of fire. They were first used during World War I, and widely used in World War II.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6th Nov. 2014.

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