THERE was consternation aplenty on Friday as eager listeners panicked at their inability to receive that summer institution - the ABC Radio cricket commentary - on their mobile phones. Aunty were inundated with messages from folks, at home and abroad, who could or couldn't listen to the coverage from the Gabba, a situation heightened in the morning when technical issues with the Cricket Australia live app played up. The reason punters could not tune in via their mobiles was explained by a CA spokesman. ''ABC hasn't bought mobile rights so they can't run ABC Grandstand through its mobile,'' he said. Listeners were told they could locate the call instead through a stream at the ABC website, although this was not available overseas as the broadcaster does not have the rights for streaming beyond Australia either. However, a couple of intrepid types discovered they could hear the Grandstand commentary via a South African station on the popular app TuneIn.
AT least one Cricket Australia staffer is carrying around enough ribbon in their bag to arm a team of artistic gymnasts. CA were forced into the frantic task in the two days before the first Test of having a new sponsor's ribbon made for the ICC mace, awarded to the No.1 Test nation, which will be determined by the winner of this series. The silverware turned up in a box from South Africa, its current holder, without the accompanying fabric highlighting the world body's mega-rich sponsor, Indian telco Reliance. A new one was made and tied to the mace in the nick of time for it to be displayed at the Gabba with captains Michael Clarke and Graeme Smith.
PAIR OF PATTS
Doppelganger time. Not only does James Pattinson share a surname with the actor Robert, of Twilight fame or infamy, but the Australian quick's new hairdo is also worthy of casting in a teen popcorn thriller.
ABC Grandstand cult favourite Kerry O'Keefe joined Twitter in time for the first Test and by lunch on day one already had almost 4000 followers despite posting only three tweets. He is promising gags, race tips and not the cyberspace minutiae offered up by that other ex-Test spinner Shane Warne. ''I'm going to leave out [what I had for] breakfast. And [there is] a lot of cuddling with his fiancee,'' said Skull. ''I'll probably leave that out too.''
IN THE latest instalment of inspired tales, South African batting great Barry Richards marvelled at a first Test lunch about the power of the late Kerry Packer. On stage in Brisbane, Richards told how after bludgeoning 207 for the World XI against Australia in a World Series Cricket game at Perth's Gloucester Park in 1978, the Channel Nine supremo had implored the batsman to switch teams. Richards, in exchange, asked for a $30,000 interest-free loan to buy a house and for assistance to gain permanent Australian residency. ''At that stage with a South African passport you had to get a visa to go anywhere, you couldn't get in anywhere,'' he said. ''I said, 'How about permanent residency in Australia?'. He said, 'Come and see me in a week's time with your passport'. I won't say who the minister of immigration was but we went straight into his office and I was a permanent resident. I'd never heard of Kerry Packer before and I thought, 'Geez, this bloke has got a bit of influence'.''
LIFT RIGHT OUT
A notorious lift at the Gabba has struck again. Queensland Cricket chairman Jim Holding was caught in the elevator, at the Vulture Street end, for 30 minutes before play on Friday, and almost missed being on the ground for the pre-Test formalities and national anthems. Also trapped in the lift was a Queensland Cricket employee who was supposed to be at the other side of the venue escorting Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards to the field. After a series of hurried phone calls they were released and all made it to the opening ceremony punctually. A few years ago CA public affairs senior official Philip Pope also fell victim to the same lift, and more dramatically, the roof of the elevator had to be removed for him to be pulled out.
LAGER THAN LIFE
South Africa have dismissed as fallacy the suggestion Hashim Amla, who is Muslim, pays the country's governing body a monthly fee in exchange for not having to wear the logo of the team's alcohol sponsor on his shirt sleeve. The story made its way onto the airwaves, and supposedly has the Proteas' run machine slinging Cricket South Africa $500 a month due to his religious indifference to Castle Lager. Good yarn, just apparently not true.