Home > Features > Moments in history >

All Fools’ Day scare for Melbourne Cricket Ground

According to the Australian publication, the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground would be renamed as the 'Mekong Cricket Ground' by a Chinese company © Getty Images
According to the Australian publication, the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground would have been renamed as the ‘Mekong Cricket Ground’ by a Chinese company © Getty Images

April 1, 2009. Australian publication ‘Herald Sun’ carried out one of the more subtle and successful April Fool Hoaxes on the cricket fans. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the curious news item it carried and the resulting angry reactions.

In Football we have seen reports of Diego Maradona moving to the USSR in the late 1980s. Some two decades later we were even more shocked to hear that Christiano Ronaldo was being sold to neighbouring Spain as a measure against Portugal’s economic crisis.

In Baseball we came to know that the New York Mets had signed Sidd Finch, a prodigy who could throw a fastball at a mindboggling 168 miles per hour.

In Tennis too, we have been informed by Andy Murray that Ross Hutchins was set to be engaged as his new coach.

However, in cricket, April Fool hoaxes of such universal triumph and popularity have been rare. Perhaps one of the more subtle and successful ones was carried out by Australia’s Herald Sunin 2009.

At that time, in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis, the emerging role of Chia in the economic landscape was undeniably major and often eyed with a fair amount of suspicion.In Australia, there was large scale uneasiness around the Chinese companies rapidly taking over the national industries.

This apprehension especially surrounded the mining sector. The recent proposals of China Minmetals Corporation to acquire OZ Minerals and Rio Tinto had caused a furore. Then there was the he controversy surrounding the Chinese connections of Fortescue Minerals. Together these had fuelled fears of a complete Asian takeover.

Hence, when Herald Sun reported the multi-million dollar proposal of a Chinese company, Mekong Industries, to take over the naming rights of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), it created widespread outrage. The Australian public could not bear the thought of the MCG being renamed to Mekong Cricket Ground.

The reactions were rapid and angry. By midday, the website of the publication was teeming with apoplectic comments.

“The Chinese corporate takeover of Australia has begun!” screamed one incensed reader. Several others were bitterly satirical, suggesting various expansions of MCG from ‘Mainly Corporate Greed’ to ‘Mao’s Cricket Ground’.

The vengeful sentiments even made some target their venom on the controversial presence of monosodium glutamate (msg) in Chinese food. There were suggestions that the new name of the ground should be Melbourne Sports Ground or MSG.

In the news article, the spokeswoman had been ingeniously christened April Fulton, but for many this tell-tale giveaway did not manage to register against this sea of tirade.

It was a while before realisation dawned that it was April 1 and the historic ground would thankfully retain its traditional name.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Centurion

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (03:30 IST)   at Christchurch

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Melbourne

More

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 19, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 68 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 17, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 7 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 16, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 87 runs

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 14, 2014  at Sharjah

Pakistan won by 147 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 13, 2014  at Pallekele

Sri Lanka won by 90 runs

Photos

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane

Videos

Josh Hazlewood looks back at his 5-wicket haul

India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 4: Australia 3 down and 43 runs away from victory

Pakistan vs New Zealand, 5th ODI at Abu Dhabi: Key clashes

Live Cricket Score, South Africa vs West Indies,1st Test, Day 3 at Centurion: Samuels and Chanderpaul rebuild for West Indies

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014, 5th ODI at Abu Dhabi Preview: Teams prepare for high-octane finale

Anil Kumble Australia India Ishant Sharma Moments in history Ravichandran Ashwin Ricky Ponting South Africa

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 4: Ishant Sharma takes third wicket

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 4: Chris Rogers scores crucial half-century

Ishant Sharma’s double strikes reduce Australia to 25/2 at tea on Day 4 of 2nd Test

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 4: Shane Watson out for a duck

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 4: David Warner dismissed by Ishant Sharma

New Zealand vs Pakistan, 5th ODI at Abu Dhabi: Marks out of 10 for Kiwis

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane: India’s tail tales

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane: India’s tail ought to take leaf out of Australian tail’s book

India vs Australia 2nd Test at Brisbane, Day 3: India’s pathetic bowling performance, Mitchell Johnson’s onslaught and other highlights

India’s inability to dismiss Australia’s tail can have huge impact

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

653 Posts | 10 Fans

India vs Australia: Murali Vijay's 144, Video highlights

प्रसिद्ध कथक नृत्यांगना सितारा देवी नहीं रही

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Bigg Boss 8: Ali Quli Mirza, Renee Dhyani, Upen Patel, Praneet Bhatt, Sonali Raut – who should be evicted this week?

Revealed: The reason why Kishore Kumar’s biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor won’t feature Katrina Kaif!

अभिनेत्री प्रियंका चोपड़ा ने स्वच्छ भारत अभियान में हिस्सा लिया

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here