S.N. Don's blog
What on earth am I going to write about this time?
You know when someone is struggling for a topic to write about when the author resorts to first hand reminiscences of major cricket matches seen. I blame it entirely on Christmas, the New Year and Brexit.
Back in 1981, I tried to get into The Oval for the last Test Match of Botham’s Ashes. Even though I got to the ground by 9.30, it was a complete sell out. There was only one thing for it and that was to hot foot it across London and head into Lords to watch the County Championship fixture between Middlesex and Yorkshire. I don’t remember much about the day’s play but I do remember thinking that there were a lot of people in attendance for a County Championship game.
My next attempt to get to see some Test cricket was in 1983 when I headed to Lords for the third Test vs New Zealand. What I remember of this was a first ball duck for Chris Smith on debut and a typically elegant 100 by David Gower. I don’t know what it is about left handed batsmen but they just make batting look ridiculously easy. Three years later and I think that I might have gone back to Lords for another Test against New Zealand. But this is where my memory starts to play tricks and I might have seen Martin Crowe’s hundred but I wouldn’t stand up in court to admit to it.
In 1995, I took in an amazing one day match at Reading CC between the Minor Counties and the touring West Indies. Somehow, and it was probably due mainly to wides and no-balls counting as two extra runs, the Minor Counties romped to an incredible 4 wicket win. A Brucie Bonus was getting to meet the legend in the Reading area that was Shaka Hislop. Having consumed a ridiculous amount of canned ale and emptied the food stall of Caribbean fish cakes, performing the Wayne’s World greeting to the great man seemed the most logical thing to do. That my best mate Baz who scoffed a ridiculous number of fish cakes was also there made it all the more special. Not happy with one view of the West Indies in action, a few weeks later I was at the old County Ground in Southampton for the tour match that ended in a draw. Highlight of the day was meeting and speaking to the giant of darts, Jocky Wilson.
I finally made my Ashes debut on Saturday 21st June 1997 not that I saw anything happen. Rain played a dismal part of the day and no sooner did it look as if play would resume, the heavens would open once again. I think that I stuck around until about 5pm and slowly trudged back to the tube station without having seen a single delivery.
1999 was the ICC Cricket World Cup which saw me take in three games at Taunton, Amstelveen and Southampton. Three great days out.
Undoubtedly, the best day out that I had was on the final day of the 5th Ashes Test in 2005. Much of the afternoon and evening sessions was spent calculating the runs per over that Australia would need to score at to win. It was also the least that I have ever drunk at a cricket match. There was absolutely no way that I was going to leave my seat while tension within the ground was at an all-time high. Before stepping foot inside the ground, I spotted a bunch of Australians and just had to engage with them. “Are you lot nervous?” I asked. “Yes” they replied. “Good. So am I” was my parting shot. If Carlsberg did Test Matches...
My first overseas Test Match came about during my time working in Australia. As I was based in Melbourne, I knew that I had to take in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. Unfortunately, I arrived three years too late so had to make do with watching Sri Lanka make a complete horlicks of their first innings in 2013. Our tickets (by this time, my partner had arrived for a two month visit) were a couple of bays up from the notorious Bay 13 and the occupants didn’t disappoint. Three players of the Aussie Rules club Melbourne were arrested having consumed way too much Carlton Draught. That was headline news on TV that evening. It was also hot. Ridiculously hot which was exaggerated when we set foot outside of the G for a smoke where we were met with a gentle breeze.
My most recent visit to a Test Match was the final day at The Oval this year. It would have been nice to see Alastair Cook score his final century but, as I was always a better bowler than batsman, seeing Jimmy Anderson break the quick bowler’s world record more than made up for it. And to think that we defeated India 4-1 last summer. Three months is a long time in Test Cricket.