Do you like noise? What? Do you like Noise? Huh? Do you like a cacophony of sound that does not abate for 4 hours? Say Whaaat?
Oh yeah and you get to watch a bit of cricket. Sorry I still can’t hear you.
T-20 Sri Lanka style is the noisiest sporting event I have ever been to. I know this is a big call but I have been to an AFL grand final, a Bocca juniors game in Argentina, a soccer world cup qualifier and none of them came close to the constant blaring racket of a T-20 in Sri Lanka.
At the AFL the roar of the crowd rises and falls with each passage of play and at the soccer the sound is harmonious with chants and songs that last the entire game. The cricket in Sri Lanka in contrast is an uncoordinated, relentless, overwhelming, ear-piercing deafening noise. Constant clamor at 140 decibels.
Arriving at the ground at 6:30pm for a 7:00pm start was a bad idea. If traffic is generally bad in Colombo then cricket traffic is traffic Armageddon with half the city converging on the stadium. Once we got to the ground there were no signs to direct us where to go so we just headed for what we assumed was an entry point and made the best of it. After 20 minutes of being stuck in a human-sandwich conga-line we reached the gate where the attendant was more interested in whacking people rather than collecting tickets. After a slap on the way through, we burst out into the ground and raced to claim a seat. For the first innings we stood on the lower level terraces, the domain of the most hardcore fans. In other countries this could mean imminent death, but in Sri Lanka you are most at risk of being surrounded by drunk old men wanting to dance, take your photo, and cop a feel. This was a man zone to the max, a real bloke festival.
As the start of the game drew closer the crowd outside grew tired of waiting (and probably annoyed at getting hit) so they just stampeded through the gate and surged into the ground to assume their positions and instruments. The only reminder of the chaos that had been was a battlefield of ‘blown out’ thongs blanketing the entrance.
From the moment the Sri Lankan team entered the field the noise started and did not stop for the whole game. People were over come by cricket fever and started to jump, dance, convulse, clap, shake, yell, scream, blow horns, bang drums, and generally lose their mind. The only time there was a variation to the noise level was for a wicket or boundary. When Sangakkara hit a six the stadium went into extra stupid mode and all hell broke loose as if everyone simultaneously did a giant Harlem shake.
One innings was enough on the lower levels and with half our contingent heading home with migranes, we climbed to the top tiers of the nose bleed section, to seek some relative respite from the noise (no chance, I only escaped the groping). So after three hours of ear splitting noise, a severe case of tinnitus and I think a game of cricket, we stumbled out of the ground along with 40,000 cricket fans into the relative quiet of the Colombo night.
Oh yeah Sri Lanka lost, not that I think anyone noticed.