Hoot! Hoot! Clap! Clap! Hoot! Hoot! Clap! Clap! Hoot! Hoot! Hoot! Clap! Clap! Clap! Hoot! Hoot! Hoot! Clap! Clap! Clap!; went the endless air-horn & human percussion for 4-days at Bourda Oval, Georgetown, Guyana!
The red, white, and blue dressed Pepsi Man (Joseph) paraded the stands with his incessant trumpeting exciting the crowd only too pleased to follow his lead, during the 1st Test between Australia and the West Indies.
Guyana may not be in the Caribbean that we dream or expect, and though being a South American nation that excels at cricket, the Guyanese know how to celebrate the great game as just West Indian 'islanders' do.
The 1st Test of the 2003 series between Australia and West Indies was by no means sold out but you could be excused for believing it was with the buzzing crowd rocking to the tunes thumping out from innumerable sound systems blaring from around the ground.
It was said the Test Series got off to a 'bad start' by playing in Guyana. Easy to believe if you've never been.
Georgetown does not have the coastal ambiance of Barbados and Antigua but since we were in Georgetown for the cricket, it mattered not there was no beach, for the atmos in the ground was on par with what to expect at the 3 other Tests.
That said, Guyana has many attributes Barbados and Antigua could only wish for.
West Indies Test Cricket Grounds are very similar, but you do know when you are at one and not the other, whether because of the crowd, the food, the beer, the music, or backdrop.
When at Bourda Oval however you do know you are not at an island venue, and when you take in the full picture of following the game to South America, you should be pleased you've come here.
'Bourda' as it is shortened, only holds 8000, so even with what we would call a small crowd by Australian standards, this crowd was large.
The rickety wooden stands rise high over the ground, putting you on top of the action.
An open terrace runs the full length of Eastern side and is home to the first scoreboard I've seen that displays each team's 1st & 2nd inning batting scores for the entire game; never do you have to 'recall' how many Steve Waugh got in the 1st inning!
This vast terrace is met at the North end by the Media Centre and Lance Gibbs Stand, and the South end by the Rohan Kanhai Stand. Kenny Wishart and Clive Lloyd stands are on the Western side with the Laparkan Stand, a small high rise, wedged between Clive and Lance.
It is a beautiful, antiquated, little ground. The tiny exit stairwells leading from the back of the stands possess intense charm. It's something we won't experience again.
Providence Stadium was built for Cricket World Cup 2007 to replace this famous venue that most can now only recollect from aged video footage.
Bourda's main drawback for the humble spectator is the fence keeping everyone on the right side of the terrace; the security measure made higher and stronger after crowd invasions marred the end of the Australia v West Indies One-Day International in 1995.
From our vantage in the upper level of the Laparkan Stand (at third man to the right-hander) the only vision impairment in the front few rows were Joseph with his horn when passing and the travelator of vendors keen to flog us anything from beer to bikinis, if not West Indians coming to greet us!
Many West Indians travel game-to-game, so very often the same smiling faces appear when you least expect them. And when they do, you don't mind them stopping in front of you for a handshake, a fist pump, or brief conversation on the status of play, if you can hear them through the sound systems.
Bourda was the first ground I'd been where the public announcer had to ask the DJ's running the sound systems to only play music between overs. In Australia, you can't bounce a beach-ball across the terrace, so heaven knows what they would do if someone smuggled in a 12-speaker sound system.
The first 30-mins of the game was hard to follow with the sound system in the Laparkan stand blaring endlessly, but once the jam was pumped only at the end of each over or when a boundary was hit, the game was the full focus.
The 55 that joined our Australia Test Cricket Tour to Guyana swaggered to the music, whilst absorbing Guyana's finest El Dorado Rum and a classic test match. It seemed one-sided once Brian Charles Lara won the toss and elected to bat only to be bowled out for 237, but it was still full of surprise and opportunity.
Australia smashed 489 with Justin Langer a wild 146, Ricky Ponting 117, and Adam Gilchrist 77. To take positive's from a loss, the West Indies captured 9-204 either side of the incredible 248-run partnership between Justin and Ricky. Still, the two lads did their job with the bat and our bowlers did theirs.
With a 252 runs lead, it was looking like a 3-day game but the Windies for a moment looked to do a 'Kolkata 2001' by chasing the deficit, getting a good lead, and then bowling us out.
Brian Lara whacked a superb 110 and with Daren Ganga's classy 113, the pair easily erased the 252 deficit and went to stumps on Day 3 at 5-389; a generous lead of 129 and plenty of time left to play.
Day 4 was a different story as Jason 'Dizzy' Gillespie ripped through the Windies weak lower order.
An injured Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who hit the 3rd fastest hundred in test history in the first innings, was out for 31, and the rest not worth a mention; Dizzy routing them for 5-18, and yours truly winning the sweep after wagering A$2 on the Windies only making 22-runs for the morning.
Set 147 to win, Matthew Hayden left us for 19, leaving Alfie (79) and Punter (41) to wrap it up in the 43rd over.
The Day 4 crowd of just 2000 was disappointing as the Windies were in a great position and could've used greater support.
They needed Shiv to help reach a lead of 200+, which would've been a lot harder to chase, but that's all part of the game and post-game analysis over local beverages many of which were shared late into the night at the Dutch Bottle Cafe even though an early-start day trip to Kaieteur Falls (above) was on the cards to replace Day 5!