Posts Tagged Cricket

The Oval, Surrey

We end at the venue where I have spent far and away the majority of my live cricket-watching hours. This photo nicely juxtaposes the modern OCS Stand and the rather older gas holder.

I first went to the Oval in the summer of 1989 to watch the touring Aussies. I can’t remember the details, but I strongly suspect they ground us into the earth that day, as they spent most of the tour doing just that.

Most of my seats at the Oval down the years have been in the vicinity of the scoreboard in front of the gas holder on this picture. Perhaps my most abiding memory, however, is from seats close to the pavilion in 2005 against the Australians (yes, them again). As I gazed absent-mindly towards the dressing rooms and balconies before the day’s play began, I suddenly realised I was staring straight at Shane Warne.

And how exactly was the world’s greatest ever spin bowler breakfasting in the twilight of his international career? With at least four rounds of white toast and a bottle of Coca-Cola. At least he wasn’t texting at the time.

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Trent Bridge, Nottingham

I’ve only been to Trent Bridge the once (for the 2010 one-dayer against Bangladesh pictured here). I spent a surprising proportion of my time idly wondering how I’d cope with working for Nottingham City Council (in that gorgeous grey building just there), sitting in window seat on the cricket-viewing side of the office… right behind the scoreboard on the second floor.

In this preposterous. entirely fictionalised world of mine, I did very, very little work during the summer and used up all the paper in the printers on the 9th floor.

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The County Ground, Derby

Ian Botham is said to have described Derby’s County Ground as “the bane of any cricketer’s life”. I can only hope the adulterous, reactionary, self-important fool was rarely on England duty when his county sides played Derbyshire here.

This is not to question his absolute match-winning genius on the pitch. As he himself said (in response to a TV colleague gently pointing out his mis-pronunication of ‘marscapone’): “oh yeah? How many test wickets did you take?”.

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The WACA, Perth, Australia

I’m still not entirely sure how, but I managed to persuade my wife that this was a must-see destination as part of our honeymoon.

Had I gone through with my threat/promise to scale the locked fences into the ground (it was the Australian winter and there were very few people around to let us in) she might have begun to question the wisdom of her decision.

In the end we (well, I) found someone to open up the ground’s museum (officially the DK Lillee Museum) for us to wander round. Just inside the entrance was a seat “for the wives to sit on”. Those crazy Australians…

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Old Trafford, Manchester

No, not that Old Trafford in Manchester. Good grief.

Anyway. This is a ground I’ve visited five times, three times for the cricket, and twice for music (the first of these was a fairly depressing experience which saw Oasis headline. My abiding memory is of plastic pint glasses full of urine being thrown around, which says it all. The second of these was much, much better).

As for the cricket, two of the three days were back-to-back during the Ashes series of 2005. On the first day me and my companion saw Ashley Giles’ ‘ball of the century’ and were inadvertently included in a promo for Channel 4’s coverage of the series, while on the second it rained most of the day: having bumped unexpectedly into a couple of other friends we spent most of the dry drinking expensive lager under dripping stands, later getting a part-refund on our tickets. And what, indeed, speaks of an English cricketing summer more than that eh?

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Queen’s Park, Chesterfield

This is the only place to begin, frankly. A small but perfectly formed venue for cricket, it’s quiet, pretty, and ideal for the English county game (ie. it’s not very big but that’s ok because there won’t be many people coming anyway).

Its size and setting means specatators are able to take a full 360 degree wander around the boundary, and it hasn’t been too sullied by the commercial side of the game: there’s invariably an ice cream van or two, perhaps a couple of burger stalls, and maybe a small rickety table selling cricketing memorabilia and/or second hand books. In short, just about the right amount of stuff you would want/need/feel able to put up with.

Derbyshire County Cricket Club stayed away from this venue for several years in the 1990s and early 2000s, but have recently (re)adopted it as their ‘on the road’ home venue for when they’re not playing at Derby’s County Ground (more on that later). In practice this means around one ‘proper’ county game and two or three limited overs games a year.

I have lots of fond memories of Queen’s Park, including being unable to find my way back to my Dad from out in the middle at the end of a tea break (in the days when spectators weren’t generally suspected of being terrorists), and, many years later, playing football on the same outfield with my Dad and my, then 18-month-old, firstborn. Speaking of which, the park itself also features plenty of places to explore and play; ideal for those with a slightly shorter attention span.

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How’s that?

Time for another theme week. This time, cricket grounds that I have visited. Oh yes, make sure your seat belts are fastened for this roller-coaster ride.

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