Days 3 and 4
Two years ago I went to Prague. Not a great place to see cricket, but a fine city of culture, good beer, and ladies of negotiable affection…it was a stag do.
Baby Dave had become a good friend and was marrying another good friend of mine – the Lovely Lisa. He kindly invited me and Little Andy (Worcester College Groundsman – Oi! You! Get off my square!), on his do but the others were unknown to me as they were his old school and College friends. Amongst the general debauchery, we found that a good number of us all loved cricket.
Last summer a ‘Stag Reunion’ was arranged with two days at Trent Bridge where we had the joy of many drinks, finding a splendid tatty straw hat (still with me), and Jimmy Anderson’s ‘Burnley Lara’ fifty and the record-breaking stand with Roooooooooot. We did also let rip on a group who booed Root for not taking every single during this stand so protecting Jimmy – okay it was me who ranted at them and yes, there was a bit of spittle flecking the corners of my mouth. Nurse, nurse, pills please.
This year we decided to do it again, so Cardiff Ashes it was.
We had tickets for days 3 and 4. I had to drive with Baby and Little from Oxford after work on Thursday and we got to Cardiff for 9 pm. We chatted about the Test on the way. To be honest we are all very pleasantly surprised at how well England are doing so far, but assuming the Aussies will strike back The Convicts were 264/5 overnight so still 166 behind, but, but, but, they are so often the ones to spray ‘dampness’ all over our little fires of hope…
Meanwhile, our SatNav is not happy with our trying to find our ultra-cheap booked digs at the University student blocks. It’s not good for gadgets when you have bridges and roads on different levels. The stern direction to ‘turn immediately left’ whilst on a bridge crossing a railway was particularly unnerving. Anyhoo, we got there. I never was a ‘Rupert’ as we call students back home, so quite enjoyed having a true student’s room with desk and everything! They live in luxury those work-shy, tax-dodging, soap-dodging, tax-draining, oxygen-thieving…
Baby Dave’s mates meet us in the pub next to the digs. We Oxford 3 have been sensible and eaten the decent pub grub on offer to accompany our sensible 4% beers. The other 3 arrive from London and immediately are onto the ‘Old Rosie’ (7.3%). I am familiar with the effects of this product, and was amused to find the ‘London 3’ get louder and louder by each inch of Rosie consumed. The sensible thing with cricket tomorrow is to get off to our little rooms and get some sleep in. Bright eyed and bushy-tailed for the morning.
We got in at 3. Another of us not until 6, and this was after being woken on the floor of the students union where he had curled up after becoming ‘lost’. Old Rosie anyone?
Now to cricket, can we get these five wickets and get a decent lead? You bloody bet we can. Great stuff from the England bowlers and much joy in the stands. Substantial amounts of Wombat-worriers were in their groups in the stands and it was great to see their faces slowly change to expressions consistent with having been slapped with a wet Halibut.
How will we bat? Well, it seems okay then a proper wobble as per England’s recent DNA and then Bell decides ‘Sod this’ and starts creaming them through the covers, and is joined by Root. Wonderful to watch. Mitchell (have the Aussies got more Mitchells than Eastenders?) Starc is fielding near us on the boundary and a row of Aussies in front are annoyed that he isn’t signing a kids souvenir bat. This goes on for about 3 overs. Then I get up in a quiet lull and shout ‘Oi! Tache-face! Sign the little convict’s bat!’ He didn’t, but the Aussies in front all appreciated my efforts.
Another flurry of wickets and we think – we’ve got enough, surely? Haven’t we? Then Moeen Ali slaps it about and young Wood carts Lyon for a huge six followed by a sublime reverse-swept four. It brought the house down. All out at the close and we have a lead of over 400. Had met up with with 2 famous Addis Army members (the Wurzel Contingent) of Tufty Squirrell and Toll Pocket which was great, although the former bought a 4th day ticket and then bottled it. Disgraceful. A much more important AA member ‘Five-Oh’ himself is also in our company for the two days. Although his dress is more sombre for home tests, he is still great company. Top man.
Pub, another pub, eat, um yes…gets a bit vague. I do remember that I visited an establishment called ‘For Your Eyes Only’ which obviously wasn’t true to its word. Live lounge music, wandering around lost.
Got in at 4.
Fourth day. Surely we can win, surely? I’m interviewed on the way in by ESPN/Cricinfo (fast forward to 1:23 on the video) and tell them of the little voices that keep saying the Aussies can do it, but no, we will batter ‘em!.
We battered ‘em. Tension and joy and a brilliant Ashes victory. Much hugging. Marvellous, marvellous, marvellous.
Out again and we are all in agreement that Cardiff, although against my own idea of Test Matches only being at Headingley, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston, Lords and the Oval (old school, me), is a great place and a very good place to have Test cricket. The City is very convenient in having the Castle, cricket ground, Rugby Ground, Football stadium, and large pedestrianised shopping centre full of bars and clubs all very close to each other. Place kept clean and I didn’t sense any anti-English behaviour from the locals.
The walk past the castle through lovely gardens by the River Taff to Sofia Gardens was a delight. Quite different to going to Blackburn away.
Highly recommended. Sorry if I’ve missed out anything, but my memory is a bit hit and miss! Come on England!