Adelaide – an Oval city

Day 5 – Monday, January 19

You often hear of fusion cuisine, a perfect blend of different food sources enhanced as a whole, rather than diminished.

The Adelaide Oval is the sporting equivalent, controversially updated a year or so ago at a cost of more than A$500 million to be fit for the 21st century, but fortunately in a way that also retains its history from all the way back to 1871.

We did the official tour on a warm, sunny January morning, crossing the river from our city hotel to explore this iconic stadium.

The volunteer led a group of around 10 of us, Gill and I being the only Poms amongst Aussies and natural targets after decades of cricketing defeats.

We were given a brilliant insight into the history of the Oval, one of the world’s most picturesque sporting venues. Century old Morton Bay fig trees, the grassed northern mound (from earth dredged from the nearby Torrens River),  and the heritage scoreboard – very analogue in this digital age – all rightly still represent a proud past. But the high tech structure of the new stands, the quality of the hospitality facilities and the backstage facilities all scream “welcome to the present day”.

The tour was supposed to last for 90 minutes but extended to 2 hours as nobody wanted to curtail the experience. And then there’s also the Bradman Museum to explore…even an Englishman can only admire the Don’s achievements. He hung up his cricket bat with a career Test Match average of 99.94, and that after a 2nd ball duck in his final match. He was subsequently also a doughty performer with golf clubs and squash rackets in his hand.

Gill is not the world’s greatest cricket fan but she loved the whole Oval experience. Just a shame that we weren’t able to see a Big Bash game or a Test Match while we’re in South Australia. We’ll just have to come back….

Later, we enjoyed a leisurely and liquid lunch with John, Eileen and Dot at the Adelaide Hilton Hotel, home of the riders and press machine for the Tour Down Under. John & Eileen bumped into a young Australian rider they seemed to know well – Campbell Flakemore, a 22 year-old Tasmanian who recently won a gold medal at the world Under-23 world championships time trial.  He’s with the BMC team, led by Aussie cycling God Cadel Evans for this Tour Down Under. What a humble lad Campbell seemed, especially considering his achievements and his potential – Cadel himself is just about to retire and has anointed the lad as a superstar of the future. Remember….you heard it here first.

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