Not playing more Tests at the SCG is New Zealand's loss

New Zealand should be glad Yabba isn't in the stands at the SCG for the last Test Getty Images

If New Zealand thought they had been poorly treated in not receiving an invite to the MCG for a Boxing Day Test in 32 years, the situation at the SCG is even worse.

It's been 34 years since they lost to Australia by four wickets, and that is one of only two Tests they have played at the iconic ground. Many fine New Zealand cricketers have been denied a treat. The SCG was my favourite ground as a player and it has remained so in 40 years of commentary and writing.

Generally there was no emotion in my choice of favourite cricket grounds. It was a simple case of if I enjoyed success there, it was a good venue, if I missed out, I wasn't fond of the place.

However the SCG was an exception; it was my favourite ground despite experiencing little success at the venue.

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The reasons I loved the SCG as a player are many. Firstly, its size - for Test matches each boundary is roughly the same and fair to everyone. Then there are the stately Members and Ladies stands, a picturesque reminder of past glory days, as is the dressing room. Adding to an all-round enjoyable experience, it provided a good cricket wicket that gave every player a chance. And finally there was the humour - as well-timed as a Doug Walters on drive - that emanated from the notorious Hill.

For someone who wasn't that emotional about cricket grounds, there was something exhilarating about changing in a dressing room that was virtually untouched since the fabled Victor Trumper donned his creams and boots in that space. It didn't hurt that it was also the home ground of my boyhood idol, Keith Miller, for the bulk of his illustrious career.

As I got to know him, Bill "Tiger" O'Reilly became one of my favourite characters, and to celebrate the Centenary of the SCG, he wrote a column extolling the virtues of his favourite cricket ground.

He recalled walking out to bat for the first time at the SCG and how. As his foot hit the lush green grass, the booming voice of "Yabba" - Stephen Harold Gascoigne - the famous barracker of the '20s and '30s called out, "Son, the O may be in front of your name now, but look where it is on your way back."

Sadly, Tiger recounted, Yabba's prediction was correct.

Even though Yabba was long gone by the time I played, the humour emanating from the Hill was still evident.

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In 1975-76 the South Australia Shield team had adopted a bright red baseball cap rather than the navy blue baggy style that had been in vogue for many seasons. Red turned out to be an unfortunate choice of colour, because it coincided with what was depicted as a South Australia player's strike in the lead up to the match at the SCG.

As I stepped onto the SCG at the fall of South Australia's first wicket, a voice from the Hill reverberated across the ground: "One out all out."

The only other ground that came close to matching the humorous ripostes from the SCG patrons was Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad.

In the late '90s, local fast bowler Mervyn Dillon produced three late outswingers in his opening over, all of which eluded the edge of the bat. Such wastefulness was too much for a female in the Learie Constantine stand. "Dillon," she cried out, "enough of the foreplay, let's have some penetration."

There have been massive changes to the SCG since New Zealand last played there in a Test, the major difference being the disappearance of the Hill - a sad but necessary upgrade to accommodate the modern facilities required by patrons.

Consequently, the humour has been somewhat diminished, but it's still there in spirit as the SCG Trust has erected a statue to Yabba in the vicinity of where he held court. It's a good thing for New Zealand it's only a statue since their lacklustre form in Australia would have provided ample ammunition for Yabba's biting humour.