The MCG is located in the sporting part of the city Photo Courtesy: Nishad Pai Vaidya
The MCG is located in the sporting part of the city Photo Courtesy: Nishad Pai Vaidya

The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is an iconic venue for world cricket. Nishad Pai Vaidya reminisces over his maiden experience at the imposing venue, which would mesmerize any cricket fan, irrespective of whether a game is being player or not. India and South Africa take on each other at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 at this iconic venue on Sunday.  SCORECARD: India vs South Africa ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Since this writer arrived in Melbourne, the iconic ‘G’ remained elusive for a couple of days. With a rest day on Tuesday and both India and South Africa training at the Junction Oval, St Kilda, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) was shrouded in mystery for some of the journalists who have travelled to the city for the first time. Amidst the various sporting venues in the city, this one stands out for its sheer size and status. This ground has been the dream venue for any and every cricket fan — having hosted the inaugural Test match way back in 1877 among other iconic games. Ominous signs for India as Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander bowl at full tilt in nets

The MCG is located in the sporting part of the city. The Rod Laver Arena and the other Tennis courts are around the corner. To get here, you need to get down at the Jollimont Station. Trams are also readily available. As I walked towards the Yarra Park, I asked one of the pedestrians, “Excuse me, can you tell me the way to the MCG?” He said, “It is right there, pointing to the arena. You cannot miss that!”

Appearances can deceive! From the outside, the MCG does not look that imposing. It looks like any other big arena, with a prominent exoskeleton. That exoskeleton tricked me into believing it to be another stadium — possibly one for tennis. Having watched the interiors of the stadium on television through the years, one isn’t quite familiar with the outside. Surrounded by greenery, you can walk towards in the presence of some of the sporting greats. Cricketers such as Neil Harvey and Shane Warne have been immortalised with their statues along that walk. As you walk along, you also find Dennis Lillee and Keith Miller among others.

Upon entering, you feel the aura of this great venue. The stands tower over you, with the floodlights going high over them. There are two big screens at two ends of the ground and the media centres at one. South Africa walk out to train as a couple of guides take their groups along the ground, showing them the different landmarks and narrating the fascinating stories. You can sense the pride in history, with numerous greats’ achievements being celebrated in the member’s stand. The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) has documented every bit of history in their arena. In fact, they have also handed down memberships to some of the international players. Bishan Singh Bedi, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Vijay Hazare and MAK Pataudi are the Indians on their honorary members list.

Sitting in the stands, you can absorb the greatness of this venue. Although the stands tower over the playing field, you still feel connected to it. You are a part of the action on this venue as there aren’t too many hindrances in the view. The sum beams onto the venue and as it sets, a shadow covers the wicket in the centre. With the crowd away, it was all quiet, but when India and South Africa meet, this venue will come alive.

On another note, you can get lost in this venue if you are in for the first time. The pictures and memorabilia put up on the walls may take you to a different world, as you lose track of the present. Such is the beauty of this ground!

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)