Sunday, 15 January 2017

Review: An Evening at the Big Bash

My Facebook feed on 28th December 2016: 
BBL Thunder v Heat - look for me on TV. I'll be the one regretting taking 3 kids under 4 to a cricket match. 
Attached to this status update was a photo, just taken at the ground.

On the left, R with a KFC bucket on his head, courtesy of the major sponsor. Not one that had housed The Dirty Bird in it, but a clean one they handout at the gate. He is waving a Sydney Thunder flag - another entry giveaway - while the bucket covers his eyes.

Then my wife, with baby O in a baby carrier on her chest, in the middle.

Finally on the right of the photo, J is watching intently. He is watching an empty field, as the game hasn't started yet. This is the most attention he'll pay to the middle all night.

We'd bought the tickets on a whim about one week earlier, while watching the Big Bash coverage on TV. It was about fifteen seconds after the purchase was made that we realised the huge risk we were taking.

A Twenty20 game may be short for cricket, but it still runs over three hours. That's a long time to contain tired three-year-olds in uncomfortable plastic seats on a humid summers night. Then there's the six-month old...

So my expectation was for lots of tears and tantrums. And I assumed the kids would probably behave poorly too.

But at least things started well! Being the week between Christmas and New Year, getting to Spotless Stadium was easy, with little traffic. Then there was free stuff at the door - not just buckets and flags, but Thunder clappers (inflatable sticks you hit together to make noise) and posters.

Inside the stadium, it's really like a footy game rather than a typical cricket match. You get a sense of this on TV, but not the full effect. There are loads of families, and a lot of people dressed in the green and black merchandise of the home team.
Picture above: Classic Watto.

I did see one guy in an away team shirt in our area. He sledged Shane Watson early in the match by yelling out, "no reviews here Watto!" as the Thunder captain was coming out to bat. Me and a few other dads laugh, but the majority of the crowd doesn't get it. It doesn't matter.

We find our seats, then I immediately leave to get food. The nearest food vendor is hot dogs, so it's hot dogs for dinner! Two plain and two with some extras is $35. It's still probably better value then the old days of soggy pies and few other options.

I arrive back with dinner, and the first thing R says is, "where's my lemonade?". It had been promised as a bribe to hype up the cricket.

I explain they only had Coke, which they never get, and Lift, which I assumed would be too tart. My wife says that they like Lift. Honestly, how am I meant to know these things about my own children?

The game starts and I miss the first delivery. I think they should introduce a siren or an umpires whistle to cricket to commence an innings, like footy has for kickoffs.

I miss the second delivery too.

I actually miss a lot of deliveries across the evening.

In the third over, J asks, "where's my chips?".

The kids have no idea what is happening but are very keen to clap and wave flags.

In the fifth over, I leave to get hot chips and lemonade for the kids ($21). I find a fish n' chips vendor. I realise too late they are cooking to order. At a game with 20,000 spectators.

I get back to the seats at about halfway through the Thunder innings. They are struggling. I take a shift with O, giving him a bottle.

Chris Green: ridiculously
 good looking.
In the last over, Thunder off-spinner Chris Green - also known as the Derek Zoolander of BBL - hits three sixes in a row to build a defendable total.

As the cricketers leave the field, R turns to me and says, "it's finished". He's quite disappointed when I explain we're only halfway through the match.

For the second innings, the kids are getting very fidgety. I have R on my lap, trying to explain cricket. Despite his best efforts, we still have some work to do.

I miss more balls, but somehow don't miss any of the other crap between overs. Like a family that won a prize to watch the game from a ute. The prize is courtesy of a sponsor that manufactures utes. (Of course.) They were interviewed early in the game. At that time the 6-year-old boy is excited, while the rest of family seems embarrassed. So when they come back to the family - over and over and over again - they wisely stick with the little kid.

At about over 9, my wife goes with the older two for ice-cream ($12).

They return in the 14th over, and R is hysterical. They were out of strawberry ice-cream. He doesn't want the chocolate bought for him instead. Then he wants vanilla, which he didn't want when asked at the time of purchase.
Chocolate ice-cream: we are
 horrible parents.

Fortunately, J has vanilla and swaps.

At this point, having had his demands fulfilled but still wanting to have a tantrum, R remembers that he was so excited about ice-cream he fell over while dancing in the queue. This has left him with a tiny mark on his knee, which has suddenly become excruciatingly painful.

While my wife hands me a bandaid - because bandaids also have healing powers for small children - J spills his ice-cream down his front. It's soup at this stage, due to melting from the heat, so there's a big brown stain on his white t-shirt.

Then as my wife is cleaning it she's getting ice-cream all over O.

So at this point I'm kinda losing it. I'm also looking around and observing a lot of families with smaller children leaving early. With the Heat now needing 65 runs off 30 balls with just 4 wickets in hand, this game is over as a contest. I think maybe we should leave too?

We don't, and everyone settles down again, including me. And the game manages a final twist to validate the decision to stay to the conclusion.

In the last five overs, the Thunder drop three catches. There would've been a fourth drop but the fielder misjudges it so badly he doesn't touch the ball. So from a position of being serious underdogs, the Heat are given the opportunity through these basic errors to claim an unlikely victory.

Chris Lynn guides them home with 85 not out. But he only hits three sixes, so it's a poor night by his standards.

When Watto drops the last catch in the last over, it hardly matters to the outcome, but it's so comically bad that the crowd boos the home team captain. At the cricket! It really is a footy atmosphere.

On the way home, the kids don't sleep at all, even though it's past 11pm. They do sleep in to about 645am though!

The BBL was a good night of family entertainment, but you'd have to be the right family due to the length of a game.

Our kids were amazing, but I'm still planning on waiting until they are capable of sitting 3-4 hours and have a rudimentary understanding of the game before returning. For R & J, that might only be two seasons away.

By contrast, I recall attending ODIs from a decade or more ago with an electric atmosphere, but it was alcohol-fuelled mayhem and probably an uncomfortable environment for families. And making a child under 12 sit through a Test match is probably classified as child abuse.

Overall, cricket is on a winner with the BBL.

No comments:

Post a Comment