These four scoreboard signs are in the Melbourne Cricket Club Members’ atrium overlooking the Percy Beames Bar. The artwork is titled ‘Best Test performances at the MCG’ and was commissioned for the MCG’s 2002-2006 northern stand redevelopment.
The concept of the four scoreboard signs was by Daryl Jackson Architects. The signs were made by artist Mathew Greentree.
The signs are much, much larger than the name-plates and numbers that would have been on the old wooden MCG scoreboard (now at Manuka). They are made of large wooden panels, with black material stretched over the panels, and steel framing.
The four signs show:
the best Test bowling figures by an Australian player at the MCG (leg-spinner Arthur Mailey took 9/121 against England in February 1921);
the best Test bowling figures by an international player at the MCG (Pakistani swing bowler Sarfraz Nawaz took 9/86 in March 1979);
the highest individual Test innings by an Australian player at the MCG (307 by Bob Cowper, February 1966, against England); and
the highest individual Test innings by an international player at the MCG (208 by Viv Richards, December 1984).
Bob Cowper’s 307 was made in the drawn fifth Test of the 1965-1966 Ashes series. At the start of the Test the MCG scoreboard listed Cowper as ‘Cowdrey’, the English player. Cowper batted for 12 hours and seven minutes, long enough for the scoreboard attendants to rectify the error.
The four panel artwork overlooks the Percy Beames Bar, named after the champion Melbourne footballer of the 1930s and 1940s. Beames also played cricket for Victoria, with a top score of 236 not out against Tasmania in 1938-39. He later became an eminent sports writer for The Age.
Artist Mat Greentree comes from a sporting family but says he is not a competitive person. ‘I always found it hard to read a game, even when I was playing brandy at school,’ he said.
Mat sees sport as a form of tribalism and cricket as ‘a colonial residue’. He describes a cricket pitch as a see-saw: you need a person at each end to make it work.
Mat has a second sculpture at the MCG, in the Ponsford Stand, in which he re-creates the ‘wagon-wheel’ that depicts a batsman’s innings. ‘Boundary Decision’ is a 3D sculptural relief consisting of powder-coated aluminium, vinyl and collected books.
Mat Greentree at Place Gallery
John Harms interview with Mat Greentree about his 2005 exhibition Stadium United
Scoreboard Pressure’s history of the MCG scoreboards
The slideshow below includes movie stills from a Mat Greentree video that places batsmen in various curious contexts. (No scoreboards in sight, but no matter!)