Faultless Adelaide Oval is simply a class above
THE trouble with getting interstate fans to concede the Adelaide Oval is Australia's best cricket ground is that Test venues are a bit like beers.
Remember those days when people loved their home state's beer so much they would block their ears to the suggestion a better drop could be bought across the border.
A man's home (brew) was his castle, so to speak.
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Logic was often swept away by deep parochial sentiment passed on from one generation to the next.
Sometimes you just don't want to know …
But it's true. Adelaide is now the standard setter. The benchmark.
Ratings are never permanent. If something goes "pop'' during the weekend's Test against Pakistan we'll let you know about it and make any necessary concession.
But when Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood said recently Adelaide had the best pitch in the country that sealed the deal because it had just about everything else covered.
Ambience, beautiful old touches such as the tree-lined hill and old-fashioned scoreboard, easy access from the inner city, spanking modern grandstands … it's all there.
Last year during the Boxing Day Test snorefest - er, sorry Test - in Melbourne I did a quick sweep of the press box to survey 10 journalists with more than 100 years of cricket watching and asked them to name their top three Australian cricket grounds, anonymously so there was no tummy-tickling.
The scribes made no pretence to speaking for everyone but it was striking that all 10 plumped for Adelaide as top seed.
The Oval picked up a maximum 30 votes compared to Sydney (16 including seven twos) with Perth's Optus Stadium (seven), the MCG (five) and the Gabba (two).
Only two of the 10 voters lived in Adelaide.
Most of the 10 nominated for their top choice in a few seconds then said things like "right, ok, number two …. Hmmm … let's see.''
People like myself got it wrong suggesting the massive Adelaide Oval redevelopment would ruin the ground when, in fact, it has been the making of it.
Adelaide is the only ground in Australia without a fault.
Sydney has a historical charm all of its own and a delightful "new and old'' feel to it but the match deck has the flavour of a service station sandwich.
Melbourne is big and bold and famous but the problem is the match deck is so timid the contest seems to shrink from Mr Universe to Mr Puniverse once the new ball is taken.
Brisbane has a wonderful pitch but is hot and suffocating, lacks character and has a deflatingly boxed-in feel about it.
Perth is grand and has a surprisingly good deck but, understandably, like any new venue, lacks a sense of history.
The last little edge Adelaide has relates to a theory from the respected cricket writer Mike Coward who said the best grounds have a sense of "place'' where you know where you are from the scenery you can spot outside the ground from inside it.
Do a lap of the Adelaide Oval and you can spot the hills and the terraces outside forming a serene backdrop to a wonderful venue.