Royals throw Surrey to the lions


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… Continue reading

Spitfires make light work of pride of lions


Father’s Day.  A day for the kids to pamper me.  So what better way to spend it than at the cricket, in the sunshine, with a few Spitfires.  And not just the Kent Spitfires, or the Spitfire Sweethearts (too many sweets and not enough hearts in my opinion) but some chilled Spitfire beers.  With Beckenham literally down the road from TBIR Towers it was a day for three generations of the Fuller family to take a chair at the boundary rope and enjoy a thick slice of what makes England so brilliant on a Sunny Summer’s afternoon.

The record books will show you that Kent won by eight wickets with 22 balls to spare, but this was a cake walk for the Spitfires.  From the moment that Roy holed out on the first ball of the Surrey innings to Rob Key at Mid Off you got the feeling it wasn’t going to be Surrey’s day.  After eight overs they had not reached 40 and had lost three wickets.  Wilson’s unbeaten 53 off 43 balls was the only thing between them and a sub-100 score.

Kent’s innings was measured to say the least.  Needing less than six an over they started well, with Key looking confident and despite losing two wickets for fifty one, Key and Stevens put on an unbeaten stand of 69 to see the Spitfires home.  Stevens rounded off the innings in the best possible way, smashing a massive six off Ansari with over three overs to go.

Days like these make you proud to be English, and even prouder to have a family who share in the same interests as you.  Thanks kids (and CMF for her exceptional organisational skills), and Happy Father’s Day Dad.

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Bank Holiday blues as Surrey are thwarted by the rain


I couldn’t hold out any longer…two weeks without any sport and I was a broken man.  So I made my excuses from Her Majesty’s BBQ in the garden and headed to the Oval for Surrey Lions versus the Scotland Saltires.  Yes I knew the weather forecast wasn’t good but with a game almost on the doorstep I couldn’t miss it.

The Lions came into the Ladies Day game as the only unbeaten side in their division with four wins from five games and expected to beat the Scots with ease who had only one win from five.

Surrey Lions v Scotland Saltires 124-4 (23 overs) – The Oval – Tuesday 5th June 2012
Of course the weather won.  Scotland won the toss and made heavy going of their innings, struggling to 23-3 off 8 overs before Symes and Mommsen came to the crease. Their unbeaten stand of 78 looked promising before the heavy rain came down and drew proceedings to a close.

The crowd of just a few hundred were consoled by the fly past of the Red Arrows and free cake celebrating Ladies Day although we missed out on a refund by just 18 balls.

Not exactly the start to the 2012 Domestic Season I had planned, but with so much cricket coming up it can only get better, surely?

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On the sixth day of Christmas…..The best non football day out


“On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, a game that was football free”

Despite our love for the beautiful game we realise that there is more to life than football. Well, we only say that when the football season in England has finished and we cannot get to anywhere abroad to watch a game. So we have to take our hat off and take a bow to those other sports that have kept us entertained in 2011.

3rd – New York Jets 16 New England Patriots 37
“Stu…how do you fancy four hours of drinking, eating and occasionally watching some sport?”
Said Luge Pravda to me back in October when I had booked my work trip to New York. How could I say no? So just a few hours after touching down we climbed to the top of the MetLife Stadium, with a beer (BudLite of course),a foot-long Nathan’s hot dog and a smile a mile wide on our faces. American football is actually a good game – if you take out the bloody pointless stoppages in play.

2nd – Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos
I’d been to a few Rugby League games in my life but they had been of the London Bronco/Harlequins variety, and never a local derby. Castleford is a small town of 30-odd thousand people and when Leeds Rhinos came to town, the locals all came out in force. A capacity crowd saw a real humdinger of a game which saw the Rhinos eventually run out winners.It was a passionate, full bloodied affair played on the part by local players who cared for the shirt. Beer flowed, food that would have Jamie Oliver tongue-tied was being served and we left with a big northern smile on our faces.

1st – Surrey Lions v Hampshire
Cricket is really hit or miss as a day out. If the weather is good, the teams are in form and the crowd are in good voice it cannot be beaten. Last year at the Whitgift School in Croydon we had one of those days. For just £10 we saw 586 runs, 16 sixes and 17 wickets whilst sitting on the boundaries edge supping cold pints of Spitfire. On a day when you needed to keep an eye on where the ball was heading you could could not have asked for better entertainment at one of the finest natural cricket grounds in the country. Without any permanent seating, spectators laid out on the grass bank or simply sat cross-legged on the boundary rope.

No alcohol allowed


Spot the missing part in this statement..

A hot summer’s night spent watching the most traditional English game with a sumptuous picnic”

ALCOHOL…Wine, Pimms, Magners, Gin & Tonic….BEER! Here we were in the Garden of England, the home of the Shepherd Neame brewery amongst other beer makers, just down the road from Barkham Manor where some of the finest English wine is produced and we couldn’t get a drink for love or money.

This is one of the problems with cricket these days.  Or more specifically the Twenty20 version of the game.  And if the counties are not careful the huge bubble of interest in the game will go pop.

Let’s start with the facts.  £70 for a family of four is pricey to start with.  Counties want to bring more youngsters into the games but the pricing structure is still not right.  Look at the facts:-

Twenty20 game – 40 overs in total – £22 for adults, £8 for children
Clydesdale 40 – 80 overs in total – £20 for adults, £8 for children
LV Championship – 90+ overs – £15 for adults, £8 for children

There are discounts for buying in advance but the maths here is that the longer games are the cheapest ones?  Is there some economic logic in there? Possibly. And kids tickets are the same price irrespective of the game?

So we arrived, paid our £10 for parking and then had to take out the couple of bottles of beer we had packed in the picnic bag.  I asked why you could not take alcohol in to a steward. “Because there is beer on sale inside” came the answer.   Of course. Continue reading