Thursday 27th July 2021 – The Hundred at Lords, London
To be honest the whole of the London Spirit innings, batting second after winning the toss passed me and a lot of the fans in the Compton Stand by as we spent the time looking every way but pitch wards, trying to avoid the flying plastic beer cups. Families left, stewards had no idea what to do and all the while I am sure supporters of the Hundred will laud the “fantastic atmosphere at the home of cricket”. It wasn’t.
There was a decent crowd in the ground, a lot of whom had taken the alcohol policy of four cans or a bottle of wine to mean they would simply drink the latter from the bottle all to themselves. It started off in good spirits – Trent Rockets, less their England cohort, put on 37 for the opening wicket, which in this competition is a serious score, although the run rate wasn’t the quickest.
Hales was the first to go for 21, but Hampshire’s D’Arcy Short, who is having a fine season down on the South Coast, became the first batsman to carry his bat through the innings, and record the second highest innings so far in the competition with his 69 not out.
The Spirit bowling was accurate and tied down the Rockets attempts to lift the score above above 6 an over. As we approached the last 10 balls the mood in the crowd started to change. The start of the football songs and then the beer snakes. I’ve no problem with them, but when people start to throw the cups towards those building the snakes then that’s when problems start.
The interval was supposed to be a live music act and despite it being no more than 20 metres to our right, our concern was the flying cups. The family in front of us got up and left, others behind us also departed. For an event that is being marketed at youngsters and families, it isn’t a good look if they are departing early because of safety fears.
The Spirit innings began but never really progressed despite chasing one of the lowest first innings totals in the competition. The stewards had no clue how to address the issue and whilst they literally tried to cut off the head of the “snake”, it was fruitless as fans just started a new one, with the intensity of cups being thrown increasing. This wasn’t the greatest day for building the fan experience, or as one steward, wearing his MCC tie, “This isn’t the way fans behave at Lords”.
London Spirit’s batsmen simply couldn’t get going. Moores took three victims behind the Rockets stumps whilst Patel and Carter both claimed three wickets a piece. When Mohammed Amir was the 8th man out with the score at just 98 it looked all over but then van der Meere and Cullen gave it a real go. With five balls to go they needed 14 to win. Four off the first ball, then two singles meant they needed 8 from two balls. But two wild swings and misses meant they fell seven runs short.
It was a low-scoring game with only five sixes were scored across the game but one that ended on a whimper rather than the big bang the organisers would have wanted. Let’s hope that the stewards have a better plan in place for the London derby between the Spirit and the Invincibles on Sunday.