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E-cyclopedia Tuesday, 24 November, 1998, 11:46 GMT
The Gabba: Great Aussie Batting & Bowling Again?
Gabbing on, but rain stops play at The Gabba
As followers of English cricket nervously waited for the rain to set in which gave their team a lucky escape in the first Ashes Test, their minds may well have mused on the name of the scene of their most recent collapses, The Gabba.

Or, more correctly, The 'Gabba.

Other famous Australian cricket grounds such as Melbourne's MCG and Sydney's SCG are pretty self-explanatory.

And while the onomatapoeically named WACA in Perth is spelt out as the West Australian Cricket Association, the 'Gabba will defy any attempt to find a fitting acronym.

For the name The 'Gabba is part of Australia's aboriginal heritage - it is short for Woolloongabba, the part of Brisbane where the ground is.

What's in a name

The names of grounds are a little considered aspect of the game of cricket, yet they do much to inspire the atmosphere and magic of games.

Like the 'Gabba, most grounds seem to take their name from the area they are in. It's not always the case though.

Consider Johannesburg's Wanderers Stadium, named after the amateur club to whom the ground is home.

Lahore's stadium, in Pakistan, which was once known prosaicly as the Lahore Stadium, is now known as the Gaddafi Stadium, in honour of the Libyan leader.

No horses

Bombay's Brabourne Stadium, built on reclaimed land, was named after a governor of the city. It took over as the Test venue from the Bombay Gymkhana, a word which has entered the English language for a sporting event, from the Hindi, literally meaning ball house.

However, the reclaimed land of Brabourne was only used for 15 matches before Tests switched to the Wankhede Stadium in 1974.

The Foster's Oval in Kennington.
Lancaster Park in Christchurch, New Zealand, held a special place in the cricketing history of that country, being the scene of their first victory over Australia, and home ground of legendary player Sir Richard Hadlee.

However, the name has now been lost with the re-naming after a software company. Jade Stadium does not somehow have the same ring.

The Basin Reserve in Wellington was once literally a yachting basin. But an earthquake in 1853 raised the whole area, making the water drain away into the Tasman Sea. It became unsuitable for boats, but suitable for bats.

Grounds for influence

The British influence, which took cricket to the much of the world, also extends to the naming of grounds. Thus there are several Ovals, for example in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Bridgetown, Barbados, and Adelaide, Australia.

Old Father Time looks over Lord's
Incidentally, Trent Bridge in Nottingham, was not named after the bridge over the River Trent, which is next to the ground.

It in fact owes it to the Trent Bridge Inn, whose landlord William Clarke enclosed the field next to the premises in 1837.

And if ever there was a name to conjure an atmosphere, it is Lord's, the home of cricket and the MCC.

Lord's owes its name not to the aristocracy or to religion, but to Yorkshire-born entrepreneur Thomas Lord, who established the ground.

And this brings us full oval. Because Woolloongabba has its own MCC.

It's not clear, however, whether the Metropolitan Community Church can turn out a decent XI.

Is there any issue in the news that you would like defined, or clarified?

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See also:

02 Dec 98 | England on Tour
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