Hero worship … a sign outside a church near Bellerive Oval. Photo: Supplied
Cricket Australia says there is ''no threat at all'' of Tasmania losing the right to host Tests despite another low turnout at Bellerive Oval on Sunday. But it will be three years before Hobart will stage their next Test. Only 4388 attended the third day's play, following crowds of 6221 and 3810 on the first two days of the series-opener against Sri Lanka, leaving Cricket Tasmania under pressure to meet its budgeted number of between 26,000 and 28,000. Cricket Tasmania said factors such as the forecast for wet weather and the busy lead-up to Christmas were behind the disappointing patronage. Ticket prices, the cheapest being $43 for an adult on Friday and Saturday, have also been blamed. ''Your Saturday and Sundays we would have expected better crowds but it was raining in the morning and people have decided they don't want to take the risk and that's unfortunate,'' said CT chairman Tony Harrison. But he dismissed suggestions Tasmania, the country's sixth Test venue, would be stripped of its Test status. ''The model we [CA] use in cricket is to make sure we play cricket in all our capital cities. There's no threat at all,'' said Harrison, who is also a CA board member. With Australia set to host only five Tests next summer and four the summer after, Hobart will not be in contention to host a Test until the 2015-16 summer.
Harrison saved a backhander for the ABC commentary team for what he deemed to be their unfair criticism of the crowds. ''I'm a bit disappointed with some comments I've heard on the radio in the last two days that are not only critical of the crowds but critical of Tasmania,'' Harrison said. ''What I'd say to the commentators who do that: 'If you don't like Tasmania, don't come here.'''
Ben Hilfenhaus's injury allowed Jordan Silk to have a Sunday afternoon he will never forget. Deployed as a substitute fielder after Hilfenhaus left the field early on day three, Silk made several fine saves on the boundary and claimed a well-judged catch in the deep to dismiss Nuwan Kulasekara. It justified the big wraps on Silk, whom one Tasmanian state squad member regards as being in Ricky Ponting's class as a fieldsman. Silk, who made his state debut this season in a one-day game, joins former West Australian player Theo Doropoulos to have taken a Test catch as 12th man. Doropoulos recently said his favourite memory of Ponting came during Australia's celebrations of the wicket when the former captain high-fived him then asked, ''Who the hell are you?'' Silk can exchange memories of his day with Test opener Ed Cowan, who performed 12th man duties for Australia at the SCG in 2005 against Pakistan. Silk was not the only substitute used on day three - uncapped 19-year-old Beau Webster took to the field while players took turns to respond to the call of nature. For those wondering, the cap Silk wore was not the official baggy green but one similar to that worn in Australia A matches.
Punter v God
Ricky Ponting is a big deal in Tasmania but he's not bigger than God, at least for one church in Hobart. The Tonk spotted a sign outside St Mark's Anglican Church, just a stone's throw from Bellerive Oval, comparing Ponting with God. ''20 year career, 13,378 runs, Ricky retires,'' the sign read. ''2012 year career, 2 billion followers, Jesus …. not out.''
Sri Lanka's exit from the ground on Saturday night was delayed after the team bus was bogged in a garden bed. Some team members were seen helping push the bus to rescue it.
Son of a gun
The son of wicketkeeping great Ian Healy is generating plenty of excitement in Queensland cricket. Tom Healy, who is a gloveman, like his father, is representing Queensland in the under-17 national championships in Hobart. The year 10 student made his first-grade debut for Northern Districts in Brisbane club cricket this season after the departures of state stumper Chris Hartley and Ben Dunk, who left for Tasmania. The youngster is regarded by Queensland's high-performance manager, Terry Oliver, as ''probably a better bat than his dad at the same age''. So highly rated is Healy, who still has two years left at under-17 level, he has already been included in Queensland's under-19s training squad. There must be some fine pedigree in the Healy bloodlines. The former Test star's niece Alyssa Healy plays for the national women's team.