For some months, I have been less than pleased with measures taken by my club, Lancashire CCC, regarding Covid 19 protocols. In particular, the digital ticket delivery systems that have been forced on Members and other customers. At Trent Bridge and Headingley, we were sent traditional tickets. But not at Old Trafford, oh no. The choice was a phone app called Tix -n- go, or the print at home option – which is fine if you have only bought a ticket for one days play, but not very user friendly if you have ordered three five day passes and sundry additional guest tickets for the Test match. The task was, in fact, almost too much for my ancient printer, and ended up requiring nearly half a pack of A4 paper. Im sure that even the eminent doctor Jonathan Van Tamm would have difficulty explaining to me how this strategy protects the ticket buyer from Covid 19, but I’m sure he could easily explain the potential savings to Lancashire CCC on printing and postage costs. Memo to the Lancs CEO and new Chairman – if you really want to attract new members, this isn’t the way to go about it.
I need not have bothered stressing over the print quality in the end, as Im sure you will know, the resulting reams of paper never even came close to being used.
Even before the game there were sinister omens. Lofty phoned to say that he was laid up Ill, and would not be making the journey north. So immediately, we had a set of spare seats.
Higgy arrived as usual the night before the Test and we enjoyed our traditional refreshing appetiser of beer and curry. On Friday morning I rose at 7am, got ready, and went downstairs to make the bacon butties. At this stage there had been no mention of any issues with the match on Talk Sport.
As the bacon was grilling, I turned on Sky Sports to be greeted with the breaking news that the Test match had been cancelled – this at about 8.30 am.
The news was followed by a series of interviews with cricket supporters from all over the UK – some of whom had travelled vast distances to watch this showpiece.
How can anyone in the entertainment business justify cancelling a sold out event like this less than three hours before it is due to start?
We were both shell shocked for quite a while, then it became evident that we were far from the only punters left in the lurch. PC Tintin, Tufty, and Luke made contact and a visit to my neck of the woods was quickly arranged.
Or more particularly a visit to my local pub, The Wellington. We were soon joined by my pal Doubter of Dobcross, who had also booked the day off work to accompany us to Old Trafford.
Imbibing commenced at around 12.30pm, and my landlord, Scott, was at first puzzled by this strange influx of Southern folk into his establishment. He may even have thought I had brought some refugees in from Kabul by their appearance, I know not.
In any event, the Southern lads were entranced by the low Northern beer prices and as the session became ever noisier, we moved outside. I had already needed to remind Tufty that he was in Saddleworth, not Streatham, and that the ladies who were sat enjoying a quiet sherry at the bar could probably live without his constant stream of loud expletives.
Sadly the kitchen was closed, but at around 2.30pm the Southern lads needed feeding and PC Tintin headed off to Tesco. When he returned and walked back into the pub with Cornish Pasties, Scotch Eggs and Pork Pies this caused some hilarity with the locals, which increased empirically when he requested plates and cutlery from behind the bar.
To my utter astonishment, landlord Scott cheerfully complied with the request, obviously greatly amused by these Southern folk and their odd customs. “I bet you do this in London all the time!” I think he said. An outdoor picnic unsued, fuelled by more beer, and lucky Luke even received a Bailey’s liqueur shampoo treatment from PC Tintin, which I guess must be another quaint London custom.
The party broke up at around 5pm when Luke’s brother Matt appeared to ferry the Southern reprobates back into Manchester for more beer and a trip down the curry mile in Rusholme. That was the last we saw of them – seriously, great to catch up again lads it has been far too long.
Higgy and I enjoyed a local curry and a quieter night I suspect.
So, what to do on Saturday, which would have been just day two of the Test match. Higgy had decided to return home on Sunday so we had a day to kill. Football provided the obvious solution, especially with Ronaldo back in town. We headed off to watch United with pal Doubter at short notice. Not the Old Trafford lot, but my local team Ashton United, who were at home to table topping Buxton. Ashton isn’t renowned as the most skilful side but the pies at Hurst Cross are reputedly the best in non-league football, and the banter amongst the funniest you could ever hear – which of course is the real reason we go. The hapless referee and linesmen had to endure a torrid time from the local crowd and the game finished in an entertaining and boisterous 1-1 draw.
Ashton’s goal was a worldie which Ronaldo would have been proud of and if you would like to see it, it’s available to view on You Tube.
The remainder of the evening was spent in my friendly local, where the tee shirt worn by barman Matt caused some amusement.
Higgy has a direct feed to the CCTV at Long Eaton cricket club on his phone and I took great pleasure in texting an astonished Sam, who was about to go out on the lash, reminding him to bring in the boundary rope after their game.
We also took the opportunity to catch up with Lofty by phone and I’m pleased to report that he now appears to be on the mend, thanks to a supply of tablets from his South American doctor – I forget his name, think it begins with the letter ‘M’.
Our evening finished with a Chinese takeaway and Higgy excitedly watching Emma Raducanu perform sporting heroics that may have even put Ben Stokes Headingley effort into the shade.
I’m sure we will never get to the bottom of what happened with this Old Trafford debacle.
Everyone we have spoken to blames the cancellation on a desire by the Indian players to return to the UAE in time to compete in the Indian Premier League, including Michael Vaughan, and Freddie has posted MPV’s comments on Addis twitter which I think represent the closest we will ever get to the truth.
The Indian cricket team have caused us all great inconvenience and annoyance which will not be diluted by a ticket refund. They have also caused my County great financial loss and reputational damage. Worst of all, they have actually made me feel sorry for the officials running Lancashire CCC, which is a truly heinous crime.
I will neither forgive, or forget – that is the last time I watch the Indian cricket team live in any capacity, home or away.
As for the IPL – I would rather watch the Test Match – or even the Test Card, come to that.
For once, there is a totally valid reason for the very low cricket content in one of my reports! Regards, Midnight xxx