Sydney Test’s colourful sidelights and highlights

By Kersi Meher-Homji

No, I won’t describe the one-sided and boring Sydney Test which ended last evening when Australia slaughtered New Zealanders by 279 runs and won the 3-Test series 3-0 by huge margins.

I know, you Sydney Indians watched the Test live at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) dressed in pink shirt / saree / bandana / skirt) or on TV on a comfortable sofa!

I will concentrate more on some interesting and personal sidelights which coloured the match.

From Light Rail to light rain

It was a thrill travelling from Central Station to the SCG in Light Rail, my first experience. It was a magical moment attending the final day of the Test with an open umbrella to welcome much-needed rain.

Having lunch with all-time greats

Watching cricket from the air-conditioned comfort of a Press Box has its advantages. You have the pleasure and thrill of meeting legends of the game; Glenn McGrath (dressed in pink on all four days), Allan Border, Shane Warne, Mark Taylor, Mark Waugh, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Slater, Brett Lee, Stuart Law and Simon Katich from Australia as also Jeremy Coney from New Zealand.

I met Border in the toilet twice on the same day and he commented tongue-in-cheek, “Our bladders must be well synchronized!”

TIDU correspondent Kersi Meher-Homji discusses his latest book with cricket legend Allan Border (Pic by Uday Binwale)

Female commentators add colour to drab broadcasts

Lisa Sthalekar

The decade from 2010 to 2019 was dominated by the number of excellent female cricket commentators and interviewers; Isa Guha, Lisa Sthalekar, Alison Mitchell, Alex Blackwell, Mel McLaughlin, Neroli Meadows, Stephanic Brantz among others. Many of them have played Test cricket.

I had chats with Lisa (originally from Pune who captained Australia with distinction) and Alex Blackwell who also captained Australia. Apart from playing and commentating on cricket Alex teaches Genetics in Universities.

Umpire Aleem Dar provides comedy and controversy

Usually no one notices an umpire but bearded Aleem Dar provided interest to lighten up a sleep-inducing Sydney Test. I have never seen an umpire run that fast as nearly 30,000 spectators did on the third when charging from leg side to off side!

Then there was his controversial decision to award five penalty runs to New Zealand as he noticed Australia’s opening batsman David Warner running on the crease when taking a single on the fourth and final day of the Test.

Warner’s unbeaten 111 set Australia up for their early afternoon declaration. There was a bizarre footnote as a result of Dar’s intervention. The Pakistani umpire first warned Warner’s batting partner Marnus Labuschagne for running on the wicket. Soon after, he penalised Australia five runs – which were added to New Zealand’s first innings total – when Warner turned a ball from New Zealand seamer Matt Henry towards midwicket and was deemed by Dar to have trod on the wicket after setting off for a single.

“What?” Warner told the umpire. “What am I doing wrong? What am I doing?”, Aleem Dar replied he was “running down the middle of the pitch”.

Warner commented later, “I couldn’t actually quite understand because I think when you confront Aleem with little things like that, he gets a little bit in your face. You’ve got to respect the umpire and, at the end of the day, you’ve got to try and stay off the wicket.”

Australia’s captain Tim Paine said he “didn’t see too much in it. The footage that I saw on TV looked OK. He hit the ball and tried to get off as quick as he could. One of the umpires obviously saw it differently.”

Despite the five run penalty, Australia won by 279 runs. Call the penalty a drop in the ocean!


Nevertheless, the Sydney Test capped a hugely profitable home summer for Warner, the undisputed highlight of which was his triple century against Pakistan in Adelaide last year. His 786 runs, scored at an average of 131, was the fifth highest haul in history for an Australian in a five-Test summer, behind only teammate Labuschagne’s 896 this season, Neil Harvey’s 834 against South Africa in 1952-53 and Don Bradman’s seasons of 1936-37 and 1931-32, in which he scored 810 and 806 runs, respectively.

I can’t wait till number one ranked India under the dynamic Virat Kohli tours Australia in 2020-21.

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