Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Things to do in Melbourne: See the MCG!


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I had to check this place. Coming from a cricket mad nation like India, where people literally sleep, breathe and live the sport, you can very well imagine why. Cricket is not just a game here but a passion, an obsession dominating the nation's sports scene since centuries. On the same lines, Melbourne draws similarities in that way. Melburnians or Aussie's in general are cricket mad too! Which is why, there was no way I was leaving this place out. And now, that am back, I tell you – If you go to Melbourne tomorrow, you should definitely check it out as one of your things to do in Melbourne as well.

This place’ that I am talking about is 'The G', also known as the 'The MCG' or the Melbourne Cricket ground, an illustrious sporting venue and the first ever to host a Test Cricket match way back in the year 1877. Since then the ground has played a long engrossing innings - be it covering the 700th test wicket of Shane Warne or hosting the fiery battle Ashes - giving all its fans all around the world ample of memorable moments to enjoy.

I think I was one of them, a fan of the MCG… right since the times I have been interested in the game. Just like Lords cricket ground of England or even Wankhede stadium of Mumbai. Some places have a timeless aura around them, like reflecting a priceless legacy. A legacy that is passed down through generations and that carry the credence of pride and passion. MCG certainly is one such treasure - Australia’s true coliseum of sport.

And, I was here. Embraced in its shade, right beneath the headlights in a thunder stormy weather, rain drenched to the core. MCG took no time to bowl me over. Mighty huge, and magnificent, the ground exuded an air of royalty and pride from the first sight itself. No wonder, it had earned Melbourne the badge of ‘the sporting capital of the world’.


Melbourne Cricket Ground, The G or the MCG, Melbourne Victoria
Melbourne Cricket Ground, The G or the MCG from a distance, Melbourne Victoria.

The premises houses great sporting legends to the likes of Shane Warne and Betty Cubhert so that visitors like me who visit MCG and National sports museum from all over the world can celebrate their rich talent and remember the immense contribution they have made to the sporting history of not only their country but the entire world.


A statue of shane warne at the MCG cricket grounds, Melbourne Victoria
Shane Warne in his spinning stride against a dark cloudy backdrop, at the MCG premises.

Dennis Lillee at the MCG cricket grounds, Melbourne Victoria
Dennis Lillee at the MCG cricket grounds, Melbourne Victoria

Betty Cuthbert known as the Golden girl at the MCG cricket grounds, Melbourne Victoria
Betty Cuthbert known as the Golden girl at the MCG cricket grounds

Fully wet and partly exhausted, I walked in through the Hugh Trumble café, located at Gate 2 of the ground, and met a very cheerful staffer Kinjal there. A native of Ahmedabad but living in Melbourne, her hospitality was as warm as the hot cup of chai which she treated me with, free of cost! I asked her what I should see in the MCG and she suggested taking the tour would be a good idea. 'You will get to see the dressing room, the media box, get to go onto the field and see the player’s memorabilia. You should do it, and this coming from a non cricket fan, it’s worth it.'


My cup of Melbourne Chai at the Hugh Trumble cafe, MCG, Melbourne Victoria
My cup of chai at Hugh Trumble cafe, Melbourne Cricket Ground.

I learnt that the entire tour takes around 1 hour and tours commence every 45 minutes. I looked at my watch, I was already well into the day and had to cover a lot of other things as well, the tour dint seem like a feasible option for me. 'Else, if you are running short on time, you can go out from that door and peep into the grounds of the MCG. But, you wouldn't be able to go onto the field; that is possible only if you take the tour.'


The glass doors, at the far opposite end of the café, sliced apart, opening into a verandah. A few people lazed around oblivious to my presence and my heart’s flutter of excitement. A black iron gate indicated restriction of any movement further but I gathered strength to gatecrash it. After all, this was like my once in a lifetime opportunity and I wanted to see the ground as closely as possible.


A gate restrists my  entry at the MCG cricket grounds, Melbourne Victoria
Gatecrashed to go beyond!

Flanked by a row of white colored seats slithering into the distance on both sides, I took a deep breath  in. A large circular carpet of green grass stretched endlessly before me. In the center of the green grassy carpet was the brown pitch on which was stationed a water mopping car - the super sopper.

My view of the MCG cricket grounds, Melbourne Victoria
My view from the stands of the super famous Melbourne Cricket Ground or the MCG of Australia.
Super sopper at work at the MCG cricket ground in Melbourne Victoria
Super Sopper at work at the MCG in Melbourne

The stadium, the pitch, the stands, the fence, everything was LIVE here. The sight was right out of my TV screen box; the place felt familiar.

What was missing however, were the fans, those people who wear their passion on more than just sleeves of their golden colored T shirts or baggie green caps. Fans for whom cricket is not a mere form of recreational entertainment but a way of life.


A Portrait of fans at the Hugh Trumble cafe, MCG, Melbourne Victoria
A portrait frame of fans from the Hugh Trumble cafe, MCG
Perhaps, the breeze heard my feelings, for I felt a sudden gust of wind play with my hair. The breeze carried with them a bagful of stories. Stories of ferocious battles being fought, of fraught emotions running loose, of tears and laughter, of celebrations and disappointments, of victories and losses. For a moment, I felt the whole stadium come alive, throbbing with the anxiety of a million fans; their hearts beating hard, pumping loud.

Was it a case of simple hallucination or was it the remnants from a power reserve left behind by a mighty maniac battalion that eats, breathes and sleeps cricket
viz. the exceptionally loyal Aussie fans or the Barmy army?

Considering that I too was now a minuscule speck of the infamous history of the MCG, I prepared to leave but not before leaving a silent wish behind ...

Side view of the MCG cricket grounds, Melbourne Victoria

... A wish for the breeze to remember my tale ...
and, carry it along, when this stadium will be jam packed with people again.

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Other Information and Timings of the MCG:

For a quick bite (and a lucky sighting of famous cricketers!) Hugh Trumble Café and Courtyard is the place to head to. It's located at Gate 2, Ponsford Stand in the MCC Members wing of the MCG. Open from 12.00pm-2.00pm, the cafe offers plated hot meals, sandwiches, rolls, wraps and cold drinks.

National sports Museum or the NSM opens from 10.00 am – 5.00 pm (last admissions 4.00 pm)

MCG Tours 10.00am – 3.00pm

MCG tours operate regularly approximately every 45 minutes from Gate 3 between 10.00 am and 3.00 pm everyday (except Christmas Day, Good Friday and major MCG event days). It takes about an hour for the entire tour which includes the main ground along with a briefing of the history, change rooms and media facilities (might be unavailable on match days.)

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Previous stories from Melbourne:

Melbourne things to do #8: Walking the Yarra River Trail.



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27 comments:

  1. Wow! MCG does hold a lot of special memories for the Indian cricketers too. The pic of that empty stadium was amazing :-)

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  2. Interesting post...It is one of the legendary cricket grounds... So they do serve Chai there....:)

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    1. Not sure whether they would be calling it as 'chai' in their cafe, but yes, it certainly tasted like masala chai to me. :D It was a bitter version though. But worked wonders in that kind of weather.

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  3. I never knew it's that old. It's one the most spectacular grounds in the world.

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  4. I am also a cricket freak and this is making excited. Beautiful clicks! Want to be there anyhow.
    Lucky you :D
    Thanks for bringing them all here for us.
    Hope you are doing good. Missed you!!

    My best wishes

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  5. Wow, Melbourne has so much to see and explore. I would definitely visit the stadium and stop at this cafe to grab a cup of nice skinny latte!

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  6. I am not so familiar with cricket, but glad for you to be able to witness MCG which am sure before your trip was just a dream. I wish to visit Melbourne some day too, hopefully, watch Australian Open, and see their natural escapes.

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  7. Aaaahhh - my cricket fan :-) ! Can certainly understand why this was a must-see for you my dear! I enjoyed the tour as well - great pictures, and it warmed my heart to read about that hospitable lady who got your rain-wet you a nice warm cup of chai !!:-) That is moments to remember! Enjoyed the tour, Arti - and thinking that Melbourne is moving up on my must-visit-list - thanks to your tempting writings and pictures about it... Hugs to you

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  8. The melbourne stadium looks awesome. Wonderful moment.Amazing clicks n write up as always

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  9. Arti, Awesome post and beautiful photos,
    Great to read your post on MGC, , Thanks for sharing :) ~ da

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  10. the stadium looks stunning. Your description shows how passionate you are about cricket :) Lovely post.

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  11. Interesting. There is similar tour in Japan. You can see the place where you can't usually go.

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  12. Αγαπημένη μου Arti
    Υπέροχες οι φωτογραφίες σου και η ξενάγηση σου στο εξαιρετικό αυτό γήπεδο!!!!
    Μοντέρνο, ωραίο, χαίρομαι πολύ που πέρασες τόσο ωραία!
    Είναι σπουδαίο να γνωρίζεις τον κόσμο!
    Πολλά φιλιά

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  13. Wonderful shots of the arena!

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  14. Thank you for this post about MCG. I knew many things

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  15. One of the Mecca's of cricket the MCG ground .. I could not go to melbourne when I visited OZ, maybe next time for sue ..

    beautiful pictures and there is a lot of info in there ..

    Bikram

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  16. Huge stadium. I know very little about sports in general and nothing at all about cricket, excep to know it is very popular in some countries.

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  17. I am a late visitor, but I often think of you, Arti. The wonderful shots of the arena and those sculptures make me think that Australia is especially a sport-loving nation. I am not familiar with cricket and good at any sports, though you can easily understand that. I like to see those photos.Your cup of coffee make me smile. Yes, I can see you having coffee with smile.
    Have a happy day!

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  18. I'm glad you were able to visit the MCG, Arti. It looks like a wonderful way to spend the day. I don't know much about cricket which probably explains why we didn't make it here during our visit. What a great looking stadium. Beautiful photos!

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  19. How nice to visit a place you always admired:)
    The view from the stands is lovely.
    Lots of love.

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  20. MCG is one of the most spectacular cricket grounds ..great pics Arti..the statues of the legends are so well captured..especially that of Warne... :-)

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  21. Wonderful experience it must be and I absolutely loved your narration and the language. The pictures look beautiful and almost surrealistic.

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  22. This is every cricket fan's dream come true, Arti!
    Great you visited it :)

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  23. MCG has lots of history and heritage when it comes to cricket. Thanks for sharing the pics.

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  24. Beautiful Photos...
    Wonderful shots of MCG
    Thankiee :)

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  25. Beautiful photos, nice description. I feel I am there. Great!

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