Cricket at the Edge of the World

My favorite cricket ground on the planet is the Bellerive Oval in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

The pitch is not really anything to write home about (though of the 11 Tests played at the ground, eight have produced a result), and the terraces and stands are not particularly spectacular or historical, but the views of the Derwent river and the hills across the river it affords those of us lucky enough to watch the matches there on television are truly breathtaking:

belleriveovalAs the matches progress, the cameras often show us the Tasmanians sailing, fishing, and otherwise enjoying the Australian summer; it gives the games a nice summery and festive feel that other grounds do not. It does not hurt of course that when it is warm and sun soaked in Australia, it is cold and miserable here in Minneapolis.

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So many cricket grounds, especially those it seems in Australia, are outside of the city centers, in warehouse districts, settled in among bland office buildings; and so it is nice when there is a ground like the Bellerive Oval to savor.

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And speaking more lyrically, there is something to be said for cricket at the edge of the  world.

Bellerive is not the most southern cricket Test ground, those plaudits go to University Oval in Dunedin, New Zealand, but Bellerive is a very close second, and Hobart is on an island, adrift in the Southern Ocean, the last outpost before Antarctica. A lone watchtower on the far edge of the known universe.

Again, speaking lyrically, but it does give the matches a touch of the fantastical, that I enjoy.

If I had to pick one ground to see a Test match at, I would not pick Lord’s or the MCG or the Wankhede, I would pick the Bellerive Oval.

Cricket at the end of the world; at the bottom of it all.

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5 Responses to Cricket at the Edge of the World

  1. 5w_haul says:

    hey mate i wanted to ask you that did you have any great fieldsman like Maritzburg Mamba a.k.a.
    jonty rhodes in baseball there in usa.
    as saying goes
    “75% of the earth is covered by water and the rest is by jonty rhodes”

    • Matt says:

      That is a great saying. Best baseball fielder ever? Probably Brooks Robinson, or maybe Ozzie Smith or Willie Mays. Best baseball fielder I have seen in person is Torii Hunter – he patrols centerfield like spiderman. Or at least he used to.

  2. Russ says:

    “So many cricket grounds, especially those it seems in Australia, are outside of the city centers, in warehouse districts, settled in among bland office buildings;”

    This line surprised me, Bellerive is in the suburbs across the bridge from Hobart; the Gabba in suburbs just over the river from the CBD, MCG and Adelaide Oval are adjacent to the CBD surrounded by parkland; the WACA near parkland and carparks a short walk from the CBD, the SCG is next to parkland a long walk from the CBD. People in England seem to lament how un-village like Australian grounds are, but as someone who likes to walk up on the morning of a game without a ticket and pay a reasonable charge for guaranteed entry, I quite like them.

    • Matt says:

      I guess I should have emphasized the word “seems” in that sentence. Based on my exploration, that is how it seems; and it seems that way not just in Australia, but in England, in India, in South Africa – I did not mean to single out Australia. And by “exploration” I mean Google and Wikipedia and television broadcasts – so my knowledge is limited.

      I also did not mean to imply that Bellerive is different from the other grounds in Australia, as it is not in the heart of the city either, but the views it provides viewers on television are superior to those provided by the MCG, for instance – though the WACA does not disappoint either.

      As an American, I have gotten used to having sports stadium in the hearts of our downtowns – like Target Field here in Minneapolis – while cricket stadiums are for the most part not like that. That is what I was getting at. It was not England v Australia, it was baseball v cricket.

      Sometimes my writing is annoyingly vague. 🙂 Sorry about that. Always appreciate you reading and commenting.

      • Russ says:

        Sorry, I’m not taking offence. And it must be a coverage problem, because most Australian grounds generally have quite good access to downtown, even by American standards – English grounds not at all. Here, for example, is a picture of Melbourne downtown from the MCG. Unfortunately that view is basically gone now, because the north side of the ground has been renovated and even high in the stands, you can only see other stands. Etihad – the BBL ground – is even closer, but you can’t tell because it is indoors – although if it was a baseball stadium it would probably orientate itself towards the water (like AT&T in SF) rather than the city anyway. The gap at Adelaide faces the church and park, instead of the city. Also the city skyline in Adelaide is… disappointing.

        Perhaps it is the more the nature of baseball stadiums, where the stands crowd the action, and the view from the plate is towards small stands on the outer and the surrounding background. In cricket the view is normally limited to the surrounding stands, unless you can see something really imposing – like Mt Wellington (Bellerive) or Table Mountain (Newlands).

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