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)

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 28, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Adelaide

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 28, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Dhaka

Afghanistan tour of UAE, 2014

Nov 28, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Dubai


Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 26, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 124 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 26, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 25 runs

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014  at Colombo

Hong Kong won by 2 wkts

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 68 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Sydney

Australia won by 2 wickets (D/L method)


Phil Hughes suffers head injury: In photos


Phil Hughes passes away: Video tribute

Phillip Hughes passes away: Let us bring Sean Abbott back on track

Phil Hughes and other cricketers who succumbed to on-field injuries

Phillip Hughes 7th-youngest Test cricketer to die

Phillip Hughes: A brief look at the career of one of Australia’s most promising talents

Phillip Hughes: Rest in peace

Australia England India India tour of Australia 2014-15 New Zealand New Zealand tour of UAE 2014 New Zealand vs Pakistan New Zealand vs Pakistan 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs New Zealand Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014 Phil Hughes Phil Hughes Death Phil Hughes head injury Phillip Hughes

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014, 4th ODI at Dhaka: Anamul Haque dismissed for 5

Phillip Hughes’ death: #Putoutyourbats viral on social media

Phillip Hughes passes away: State Memorial Service to be held

Phillip Hughes passes away: New Zealand players wear initials ‘P.H.’ on jerseys

Phil Hughes death: Australia flags lowered to half-mast on Sydney Harbour Bridge

Henry Blofeld: Nephew of an England captain?

Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014: Pakistan top-order prevails once again

Prakash Bhandari: The teenage prodigy BCCI could not capitalise on

Phil Hughes: Remembering his most memorable knocks

Phillip Hughes passes away: Kolkata is where Kolkata was

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

682 Posts | 6 Fans

Video: Phil Hughes suffers head injury, collapses on field during New South Wales vs South Australia tie

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

Alia Bhatt or Shraddha Kapoor: Who can play Jennifer Lawrence’s role if Mockingjay is remade in Bollywood?

सुबह गुनगुना पानी पीने के छह फ़ायदे

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

सर्दी के दिनों में त्वचा को स्वस्थ रखने के कुछ सरल उपाय

Ungli movie review: Emraan Hashmi, Randeep Hooda let down by predictable and contrived plot

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here