Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Ashes advent calendar: Sydney

Host for the fifth and final Test on 2nd January, Sydney is the oldest and largest city in Australia. The city was established in 1788 close to Botany Bay, where Captain Cook had landed 18 years earlier, and from its origins as a penal colony it grew steadily and is now the financial centre of the country and state capital of New South Wales, ranking as one of the wealthiest cities on the planet. It is the site of two contrasting Australian cultural icons - Bondi Beach and the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Sport in Sydney
Sydney's biggest sporting event in recent years was of course the 2000 Olympics, widely regarded as a very successful event. The ANZ Stadium, formerly known as Stadium Australia, remains the largest Olympic stadium ever used, although capacity has now been reduced to "only" 83,500. It hosts many of the Australian national football and rugby union teams' matches, and hosted the exciting 2003 Rugby World Cup final.
In domestic competitions it is the home stadium for the Canterbury Bankstown and South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league teams, with Parramatta Eels also using the stadium for two matches a season. Sydney's only Aussie Rules team, the Sydney Swans, also play four matches a season at the ANZ Stadium, with the rest of the team's matches taking place at the SCG, which is the home ground of Sydney's first class cricket club, the NSW "Speed Blitz" Blues, who are Australia's most successful domestic team.
Sydney Football ground hosts the city's one Association Football team, Sydney FC, and its one Rugby Union club, the NSW Waratahs. Sydney FC are the most successful team in Australia, having won both the inaugural and most recent A-League titles and the Oceania Club Championship, while its women's and youth teams have also won titles. The NSW Waratahs have reached two Super Rugby finals but have yet to win the title. The Football Ground is also regularly used by two other rugby league teams - Sydney Roosters and Wests Tigers - and in all, no less than nine of Australia's 16 Rugby League teams hail from Sydney
Part of the Olympic park's roads is annually turned into a street circuit to host the Homebush 500, the final race of the V8 Supercar season that will be held on 5th December this year, and 125 miles west of Sydney lies Bathurst, site of the most prestigious race in Australian domestic motorsport - the Bathurst 1000.
Sydney hosts many other sports and is the starting point for the prestigious Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Sydney Cricket Ground
The first games of cricket on what became the SCG took place in 1848, with the 11th North Devonshire Regiment and others based at Victoria Barracks playing there as the Garrison Club from the 1850s onward. With British troops leaving the barracks in 1870 the NSW Cricket Association took residence and began to develop the ground, with two grandstands having been completed at the time the first Test Match at the ground was held in February 1882 with Australia winning by 5 wickets.
At present the ground is surrounded by nine separate stands, namely the M.A. Noble Stand, the Bradman Stand, the Daily Messenger Stand, the Bill O'Reilly Stand, the Victor Trumper stand, the Clive Churchill stand, the Brewongle stand, the Ladies' Stand and the Members' Pavillion, with a total capacity of 46,000 people. Plans are afoot to extend the ground's capacity to 50,000 with developments to the Noble, Bradman and Daily Messenger stands. The Members' Pavilion is the most well-known section of the ground, having been first built in 1886 and extended in 1903, with the similarly-styled Ladies' stand immediately to its right. Next to the Lord's Pavilion it ranks as one of the most famous landmarks in World Cricket.
For much of its life the SCG was seen as very much a batting pitch, with some enormous scores being compiled including then-NSW man Don Bradman's 452 not out against Queensland, which stood as the all-time first-class record for many years. However since the 1970s the ground has developed into a spinner's ground, with the performance of appropriately-initialled New South Wales leg-spinner SCG MacGill's 12 for 107 against England in 1999 being my own favourite example.
England at the SCG: P53 - W21(39.6%) L25(47.2%) D7(13.2%)

Did you know: The area around Sydney boasts an enormous amount of pre-historic rock carvings

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