Out of all the venues that are on the current International match circuit, I had seen matches at all bar one – The Rose Bowl in Southampton. Except in the modern world it is not called that anymore. I am sure in years to come we will reminisce about our visits to the Ageas Bowl just like we do about the Kia Oval, the Emirates in Durham and the Swalec in Cardiff. Sponsors will be around forever, right? Short term gain for long term what?
The ground last year became the 105th (and newest) venue to be used for test cricket when it hosted the game between England and Sri Lanka. The ground can hold an impressive 25,000 when the temporary seating is put in, but today with only a couple of those stands in place the crowd looked no more than 5 or 6,000. Yet the experience of those stuck trying to get into the car park before the game, and the 90 minutes to try to get out of it after the game calls into question their ability to handle crowds effectively. But more of that later…
This was to be the first meeting this season in the T20 between the Hampshire Royals and the Surrey Lions. After their defeat to Kent two weeks ago, the devastating news was broken that Tom Maynard had been killed in tragic circumstances in the early hours following the game at Beckenham. Their next game, against the Royals was postponed and it is hard to imagine the effect Maynard’s death will have had on the dressing room. Their one day form so far this season has been one of contrasting fortunes – on top of the CB40 league with 5 wins from 7 games, whilst bottom of the FP T20.
Hampshire, on the other hand have been a model of consistency. Second place in both the CB40 and FP T20 coming into this game with Glenn Maxwell bang in form, averaging over 50 coming into this game whilst with the ball ex-England international Mascarenhas had averaged less than 15 for his seven wickets.
Hampshire Royals beat Surrey Lions by 7 wickets – The Rose Bowl – Saturday 30th June 2012
We arrived at the ground dead on start time of 2:40pm, some 30 minutes after we had actually left the motorway a mile away. By the time we had walked up the hill to buy our tickets and then down the hill to enter the gates (don’t ask – another avoidable hassle) Surrey were 9-4. Davies, Kartick, Roy and captain Hamilton-Brown were already back in the pavilion. It looked like we were going to see the shortest ever T20 game.
Wilson put up some resistance but strayed too far down the pitch and was stumped by the impressive Briggs behind the stumps with the score on 26. With ten overs to go Spriegel fell to Maxwell and Surrey were 42 for 6. The crowd sensed a famous victory, although a spirited unbeaten 52 partnership from Ansari and Batty added a modicum of respect for the Lions. However, 95 on a flat pitch was not going to be a challenge for an in-form Royals side.
Despite the Razzmatazz of the T20 game, including the voice over of one Britain’s most famous voices, Peter Dickson to announce the incoming batsmen, and the musical interludes, there is little in the way of entertainment for the crowd at half time. A mascot race in one corner of the field was all that was on offer, which is piss poor really. Gone (unfortunately) is the day when the crowd were allowed onto the outfield with their bats and balls – security/health and safety rule the game today.
I had a bet with Lolly (her spending money for next week) that Hampshire would rattle the 95 off in 10 overs or less. They started steadily at just 3 an over before Vince decided enough was enough and dispatched Stuart Meaker for 18 in one over. Vince celebrated with a shuffle down the pitch whilst Meaker was rewarded for his effort with a call up to the England one day squad. However, in the next over from Kartick he was gone – stumped by Davies. Two overs and seven runs later and the same duo combined to remove Adams for 17. Unbelievably just three balls later Kartick took his third wicket when he trapped Simon Katich for just one. Perhaps Surrey could pull off the most unlikely victory after all?
Alas, there was no fairytale ending for them. McKenzie and Maxwell just waited for the bad balls to punish, and apart from a massive six from Maxwell that had Surrey’s Meaker at full stretch to try to catch it on the boundary, they never looked troubled. With just less than five overs to go Maxwell hit the winning runs.
But our fun was just about to start. We headed back to the official car park. This was 3/4th full and based on our ticket number of 0995 I would suggest there was more than 1,000 cars in the field. However, there was a complete lack of people trying to manage the traffic now trying to head for the one single exit. An hour passed and no car in sight had managed to exit the car park. Traffic continued to pass on the main road – surely someone with any sense (hello Hampshire police?) could have put a simple divert in place that saw normal traffic re-rerouted around the other side of the ground to the M27 and then all exiting car park traffic could have joined the main road? Too simple? Obviously so. The Hampshire innings lasted a full 67 minutes. Our journey of 250 yards to the main road took 89 minutes – more expensive per minute than the actual game! Sorry Hampshire but you were culpable of gross mismanagement on this one, and whilst this was our first trip to your ground, I doubt there will be any more. We weren’t the only ones who felt the same based on the comments on Twitter. It will be interesting to see how they respond. My money is on they don’t. You must be laughing all the way to the bank with our tenners.
More photos from the day can be found here.