Imagine telling Morne Morkel at the peak of his powers he would one day make his Big Bash debut as an X-factor player for Brisbane in Canberra and nobody will be there to see it.
That's just what happened as Australian cricket's domestic showpiece went behind closed doors at Manuka Oval when the Brisbane Heat beat the Melbourne Renegades by five wickets on Thursday night.
A classic catch that would have fans jumping out of their seats was met with little more than a pat on the back. Blistering shots were greeted by a silence interrupted only by the sound system.
The few security guards, broadcast staff members and volunteers inside the venue were about all that occupied the seats. The job for those volunteers? Fetch balls belted into the stands.
There would be no long line of fans clamouring to get through the gates. Two Brisbane players in the nets by the main entrance were able to go about their work in silence interrupted only by the grunt of a bowler and the crack of leather on willow.
Food vans and bars had their roller doors slammed shut. There was no ground announcer ready to whip a waiting crowd into a frenzy before the game.
It felt like something of a glorified club game, minus the sprinkling of photographers lining the boundary and broadcast network staff roaming the ground.
The atmosphere was so quiet Manuka Oval curator Brad van Dam joked his ground staff would have to spend their night cheering from their vantage point beneath the Jack Fingleton Scoreboard.
However once the time came for the players to make their way to the crease, there were signs of normality. A countdown appeared on the big screen, music played, a ground announcer came to life.
"I'm glad they've still got the music going. It gives us something to sing along too," Lisa Sthalekar laughed in commentary on Channel Seven.
"They want to entertain people. When you can't see them, because they're all behind the TV, it can get hard."
One quickly missed the buzz of the crowd when Xavier Bartlett trapped Shaun Marsh leg before wicket for a golden duck in the opening over.
Bartlett would soon be substituted out at the expense of international star Morkel (1-29), who picked up the wicket of Jack Prestwidge - who was seven when Morkel debuted for South Africa - for 40.
Beau Webster finished unbeaten on 50 as the Renegades posted 6-149. Chris Lynn loomed as the key wicket in the run chase and he was gifted a pair of chances to get Brisbane home.
Lynn was dropped once. Eventually he was caught off Prestwidge for 37 and made his way towards the Sir Donald Bradman Stand before being recalled due to a back foot no ball. He rode his luck until he was bowled for 51, and at that stage the Heat were right in the box seat.
Late wickets brought Melbourne to life but an outstanding finish from Joe Burns (31 not out from 15 balls) carried Brisbane over the line with eight balls remaining.
"It was a little bit different with no fans in the crowd," Burns said on Channel Seven.
"In this competition, if you're taking games as deep as possible, you're a chance of winning more games. We're on to Melbourne now and some slow wickets."
The scenes on Thursday night were in stark contrast to those offered 24 hours prior, when the Sydney Sixers outclassed their cross-town rivals the Thunder in a top of the table clash in front of a strong Canberra crowd.
The match was originally scheduled to be played in Melbourne before restrictions on travel to Victoria forced Cricket Australia to scramble and find an alternate venue.
It is understood Cricket ACT officials were only told on Monday this game would be wedged in between a trio of other matches shifted to Canberra from Sydney.
The tight turnaround and biosecurity protocols which dictate tickets to Big Bash games at Manuka Oval must be purchased more than 24 hours in advance were behind the decision to play behind closed doors.
But officials will swing the gates open when the ladder-leading Sixers face the Perth Scorchers on Saturday in a 6.40pm timeslot.
AT A GLANCE
Big Bash League: BRISBANE HEAT 5-150 (Chris Lynn 50, Joe Burns 31*; Peter Hatzoglou 2-28, Jack Prestwidge 1-26) bt MELBOURNE RENEGADES 6-149 (Beau Webster 50*, Jake Fraser-McGurk 40; Mark Steketee 2-24, Xavier Bartlett 1-2) by five wickets at Manuka Oval.