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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Killjoys devise "range of measures to enhance the experience of spectators"

Worrying, yet not entirely unexpected, reports have emerged about the treatment of spectators at the Gabba.

#The Age
alerted us to this a few days ago:

The backpack, the beach ball and the Mexican Wave have been classified public enemies numbers one to three by Cricket Australia this summer. Or something like that. As part of a new initiative to improve crowd behaviour, CA has commissioned Sean Carroll, a former Victorian policeman, to devise a range of measures to enhance the experience of spectators.

That has included introducing a text messaging system whereby spectators can "dob in a yob". But perhaps the most unpopular moves will be to ban backpacks, along with beach balls and the Mexican wave. The new measures were in part prompted by last year's report by India's Solicitor General, Goolam Vahanvati, following racist crowd abuse hurled at the South African team.

What on earth does a backpack have to do with racist abuse?

# reports on both the ban on backpacks (spectators had to fork out $5 to hire a locker and were only allowed to take plastic bags into the ground) and the ejection of the Barmy army's bugler, an event which has been noted elsewhere not only in Cricinfo but as far afield as China.

# At least there are a few high profile Australians, eg Tim Fischer, Chair of Tourism Australia, who have spoken out in support of the Army:

"It should be remembered the Barmy Army are ticket-paying, high-yield tourists, and should be allowed to sit together within reason and should be given their trumpet back for subsequent tests," Fischer said. "Everyone wants to focus on the cricket and enjoy the cricket, but the over-reaction at the Gabba has destroyed a great deal of atmosphere. Combined with the stuff-up with the tea-time entertainment, the cricket and ground authorities really need to ensure all goes well at the Adelaide Test and subsequent tests."

# Fortunately the backpack ban will not, according to an official at SACA to whom I spoke on Friday and
Adelaide Now be enforced at the test here:

"There is a ban on hard-topped eskies but soft day-packs will be permitted as always after security checks,"Ms Elliott [SACA communications manager] said. Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said increased security measures could lead to slight delays through the turnstiles.

"I know it can be annoying to have to undergo bag searches on the way in," he said.

"Unfortunately, that's the world we now inhabit and as administrators, we have to accept the advice of the experts. Ultimately, it's for your safety and comfort. That's why we're suggesting it's a good idea to get to the ground a bit earlier than usual and to check with the ground managers or your state cricket association to find out what you can bring in.

"The rules will vary a bit from state to state. That's because the people who run each venue and their local police have experience with what works best in their circumstances."

Queensland Cricket spokesman Steve Gray said the new guidelines for yesterday's Ashes opener were well-publicised.

"It's (the backpack ban) here to stay and I think you will find it becoming the standard across the country," he said.

I find this last sentence particularly offensive and patronising.

# Other bloggers have picked up on the price gouging at the Gabba .

# On ABC TV's Offsiders today Gideon Haigh, speaking from outside the Gabba, mentioned the number and deafening volume of the advertisements played at the ground. Over the last few years I too have noted this creeping SBS tendency (interrupting programs for commercial breaks) but thought it was mainly confined to one day games. I shall get my earplugs ready for Friday.
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