I write to you from the sunny climes of Bruce & Sheila’s backyard, having successfully negotiated the jetlag, currency, transport systems, beer brands and beer-glass volumes. The Aussies run a tight ship here; rules and regulations are a high priority, to the point of being plain silly. For example, no jaywalking (what’s with that?), mid-strength beer at the cricket (Lord, give me strength), and no board-shorts in certain beachside bars during the day (that’s just taking the mick).
However, although my London and Saffa tendencies have been marginalised, this place just functions well. It is clean, transport arrives on time, and even some buses are free – score! You can get drive through beer, and contrary to popular belief, there are no shrimps on the barbie nor kangaroos in the streets, and stubbie holders make sense because “You wouldn’t want a warm beer wouldya?”
I have spent most of my time in lovely Perth, the venue for the SA cricket team’s warm-up games, and 1st Test starting tomorrow, but more on those games next week. Apart from feeding koalas and kangaroos, doing a Barossa wine tour, and going to the beach, I have done my fair share of sports-watching.
I was “fortunate” enough to witness only the last 20 minutes of the Australia/NZ cricket test at the Adelaide Oval, due to my flight being rescheduled and a Kiwi batting collapse. It’s a quaint ground but just doesn’t match the beauty of Newlands. And quite appropriately, the drunkards on the grass section have no view of the solitary scoreboard…
I then went to Hindmarsh Stadium (if one can call it a stadium) to watch a soccer game between Adelaide United and the in-form Wellington Phoenix, during which the latter unexpectedly got drilled 6-1. Soccer has overtaken basketball recently in terms of popularity, and it shows. The supporters are passionate, and the stadium TV screen doesn’t show repeats of unfavourable decisions for fear of a riot! However, the standard of play isn’t as good as in England; even the kids at half-time displayed skills that made the seniors look like mugs.
Next on the agenda was a basketball game between Adelaide 36ers and Melbourne Tigers at The Dome. Typically American, it was fast-moving and high-scoring, with loud chanting and cheerleading, adverts galore, and junk-food! The announcer, in typical Aussie fashion, rallied the crowd with impartial cheers of “De-fence” which inspired the home team to prevail by 8 points, a margin which is said to be a given when the 36ers are at home.
‘Till next time!
This article originally appeared on The South African in 2008.