VicariousG

Inspiration and photography: Caroline Dorin

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This…is how I have always imagined it should be.

Wanted it to be.

The behemoth that the MCG is as a private and bespoke performance art venue. Its scale simultaneously magnified, yet distilled into a crucible for a supine form’s languid view. The roar of the 100,000 plus trapped below in the cauldron as he lies in the sun, head propped by the crocked elbow, a trail of discarded clothing tracing the path to the edge of the roof. And you can leave your socks on…

1981 is my earliest memory of living the MCG. On the radio. When Sunny staged a Gandhian protest of non-cooperation and stormed off in his march of pouty resistance. But Vishy had dazzled and Kapil with a Keyser Söze limp had bedeviled Chappell, Border, Hughes, Walters, Marsh, Lillee, Pascoe and Co. “It is the biggest cricket ground in the world” a stentorian family member’s voice categorically stating.

And then came Channel 9. Richie, Tony, Chappelli and Lawry. And there was the MCG, heaving and roaring in my living room in Bangalore in its mammoth glory. Looming like a cliff-side edifice up to the sky as a backdrop to Shastri test driving his Audi across the turf in 1985. A lot happened…and is seared into the memory…

Border, Waugh, Sachin, Viru, VVS, Ponting, Graeme Smith, Haydos, Duminy, Clarke, Cook, Smith, Kohli, Warner…

Akram, Ambrose, Warne, McGrath, Kumble, Steyn, Amir, Johnson, Bumrah…

It goes on…

The SCG has always been my spiritual center of Australian cricket. Still is. The WACA (RIP), a nostrils-flared, mullet billowing rebellious and sweaty glare that makes the heart race to this day.

But the G…it has always cast a long shadow…and has beckoned.

Have lost track of all the Boxing Day Test’s I have obsessed over on TV while telling myself it had to happen. Needed to. Like so many other cricket grounds visited all over the world. The G needed to be knocked off the list.

But no…I am yet to live it. In the flesh.

Yet…


Everything seemed to kick into overdrive earlier this year. A mate from Toronto – the delusional bugger sneers at cricket, by the way – on a visit to Australia excitedly messaging me from the MCG amidst a heaving and screaming 80,000+ as Eminem tore into them in a 2 hour set,

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“You won’t believe how insane the size of the crowd in this gigantic stadium is. It is impossible to describe it”, he had said.

Little did he know what I knew. I needed no Slim Shady to gee up the G for me.

Slim and supine in the sun with no shade and at the edge of the roof on the other hand…


And Caroline…

As Virat and his merry band made history in the Boxing Day Test of 2018, I was on my couch watching intently in Toronto. Caroline, a friend and colleague, was at the cricket. Like she has been at the Boxing Day Test since childhood. A family tradition for her. One that warms my heart. Post Christmas relaxation with grand-parents and parents at the Boxing Day Test, a reassuring and recurring event in her life every year.

“I hope it goes into the third day when I am going to the G”, she had said.  And kept me company as India ran rampant. Bumrah’s demolition job, Che’s hypnotic spell and Virat…grinning, glaring and scything away at the Aussies as India conquered the final frontier.

Caroline kept a running stream of messages flowing my way and I had lived that momentous Test in her company vicariously.


To three days ago…day two of the Boxing Day Test 2019. And the Kiwis this time.

A glorious day in the Melbourne sunshine. The day of the annual pilgrimage to the Boxing Day Test for Caroline with her family.

And this year too, for about six hours, I watched it on TV from my couch in Toronto and lived it vicariously with her. And had a private bird’s eye view of the events of the day courtesy her cell phone camera.

So, on to the day at the MCG….


Alighting at Richmond Street station…

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A skip in the step…

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First sighting on the walk through Yarra Park.

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Purposeful saunter through Yarra Park…

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There it is…

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The steps to the behemoth.

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…and the gates…

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Legend!

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“Tickets, please!”

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Gulp…

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And we are off…Colin de Grandhomme around the wicket to David Warner…

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The Bay 13 makeover: “pathetic”, “yuppified”, “un-Australian” have been the mildest reactions to the much needed revamp turning into an exercise in corporate ass licking.

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The band is in the house.

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A mini beer cup snake makes its appearance…only to be confiscated by puritanical security officials minutes later. Oh, for those days of mile lone beer snakes…

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Two hours in, the man’s gettin’ peckish and lunch preparations are on….

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Bon appetit, Caroline…

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Comfort food…Boxing Day food…

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Players heading back after lunch.

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It is astonishing how sparse a crowd of 60,000 looks in this coliseum…

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Man’s probably reading up about Smith and Labuschagne on Day One…or maybe Boult’s thunderbolt to Burns…

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Now, THIS is un-Australian! How could they miss out making the fine for invading the playing area $9994?

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Late afternoon…and the crowd watch on intently…

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The Melbourne skyline on the walk back to Richmond Street station…

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Yes…a gorgeous day in perfect weather! And a wonderful’s day’s cricket too.


And I make my perennial resolution…to not live this vicariously for too long. To get this annual cricketing tradition off my bucket list once for all.

And to not be on my couch again talking to Caroline all night. But meet up with her (hopefully) at Richmond Street station on a sunny Melbourne morning sometime soon…

(Caroline, merci, mon ami…)

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