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India vs Australia, 3rd Test: Come Boxing Day, Indian will also face wrath of most notorious stand at MCG

Come Boxing Day, the Indian team will also face the wrath of the most notorious stand at MCG.

India vs Australia 3rd Test, India vs Australia, Boxing Day Test It’s not always that Bay 13 is antagonistic. But if you are someone who can play to the crowd, you could even get them on your side. Like Merv Hughes used to, getting them to copy his warm-up routines every time he stood in front of them. (Source: Getty Images)

Bay 13. Locals speak about it with awe. You are never far away from a, “Oh that time I was in Bay 13,” or “if you want to be anywhere in the MCG, that’s the place to be”. It’s this section of the Great Southern Stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which has housed the most literal expression of the Australian way: Notorious, unabashed and unrestrained.

On the other hand, visiting teams mention Bay 13 with dread. Almost as if it’s Hangar 18 — where the Americans apparently stashed all the extra-terrestrials they found — and those inhabiting it are deadly aliens out to get them. Out to get into their heads. To demean them. To belittle them.

Lance Gibbs once advised to never ever to accept a drink being offered from anywhere at the MCG, especially not Bay 13. For it would not be just beer in the mug. It would be another liquid of the same colour. For the record, there have also been complaints about cups of urine being thrown onto the field over the years.

Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium might have the North Stand. The Eden Gardens certainly has its own passionate crowd, who never deter from getting their opinions heard, at times about their own players. But then there is Bay 13.

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To the man, the Indian contingent have included being at the receiving end of pleasantries from the crowds as being an integral part of touring Australia. If anywhere, it’s at the MCG that they will cop it the most. To boot, the visitors arrive here as the ‘whinging’ Indians.

At the Gabba, they complained about the practice wickets and the food on offer among other things as they succumbed to a 0-2 deficit in the Test series. Ever since, it’s like the whole of Australia has been sniggering at the visitors.

On Tuesday, the groundstaff at the MCG spoke about having their fingers crossed about their practice nets, hoping that they find it to their liking. Last time around Virat Kohli didn’t endear himself to the Australian fans, especially after having shown an obscene gesture at the crowds at the SCG.

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They say Bay 13 has tried its best to get its act straight. To try their best to behave. Not by choice though. After having given the MCG a reputation of housing among the worst-behaved fans in the world, those manning the show here have been keen on ridding their historic venue of the tag.

“It’s obviously not the same as it used to be. These days there are CCTVs everywhere and the cops are always on the lookout for idiots who go overboard. You are immediately evicted,” said a groundstaff member before quickly adding, “But that doesn’t mean there are no idiots who still make trouble.”

You don’t really get an idea of how Bay 13 used to be till your co-passenger in the flight gloats while narrating his favourite MCG anecdote. About the time he was arrested for unruly behaviour after having had one too many beers, and having spent two nights behind bars. “Oh and I had to spend a whole year doing community service. That meant 12 months of no weekends. But ah, I still don’t regret it,” he said.

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Over the years, some of the Bay 13 chants have become immortal. “You are a wa#$er,” they would scream whenever anyone in the crowd wouldn’t follow what the rest were up to, like not raising his hand during one of the many Mexican Waves or try to carry a mug full of beer while the match was on. Then there is the oft-repeated ‘you’re going home in the back of a divvy van’ chant — which basically means the police are on to an individual who’s not behaving in acceptable fashion — one that our friend on the flight remembers all too well, having been the subject of it once.

Then there is the beach ball routine, where the fans at Bay 13 bounce around a colourful and bloated object around, trying their best to keep it out of the police’s way. These days, the authorities at the MCG are always on their guard to find the beach ball and deflate it unlike the old days where it could find its way onto the field.

The fielding position in front of Bay 13, third-man or fine-leg when the bowler’s running in from the Members’ Stand, is never the most-preferred for visiting teams. For it is this fielder who attracts their attention the most.

It’s not always that Bay 13 is antagonistic. Well, it is most times. But if you are someone who can play to the crowd, you could even get them on your side. Like Merv Hughes used to, getting them to copy his warm-up routines every time he stood in front of them.

Bay 13 has lost some of its infamy over the years. But when 70,000 turn up on Boxing Day, it’s this historic section that the cameras will zoom towards repeatedly, anticipating another punch-up, another grog-up. Bay 13 won’t let them down.

First published on: 24-12-2014 at 01:33:29 am
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