How to spend a Honeymoon

I love my sport and have never shied away from slipping in a game when I have traveled.  Family Holidays in Orlando, work trips to the West Coast and of course a New York Mets baseball game when I attended the wedding of my good mate Luge Pravda last summer.  Now I cannot claim inspiration for this tale, but I am sure a little bit of TBIR has rubbed off on Luge as he took the ultimate step in going to a game on his Honeymoon.  Over to Luge to justify his decision.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 – South Africa vs West Indies, Feroz Shah Kotla stadium, Delhi

Looking good on his wedding night

Prior to getting married last August, the wife-to-be and I could not agree on a mutually agreeable honeymoon destination. I have always wanted to see the ‘Paris of the South’, Buenos Aries and my significant other, Katie, was pushing for North Africa, either Egypt or Morocco. My choice could have given us a football match no doubt, perhaps even a dream fixture like Boca Juniors vs. River Plate, but it certainly didn’t occur to me that our eventual destination, India, would allow us to go and see an ICC Cricket World Cup match.

This only became apparent in January this year when we firmed up flights and our 2 week itinerary around Rajasthan for the end of February. We were only to be in Delhi for 3 nights having flown in from London Heathrow (in turn arriving there from New York the day before) and as chance would have it we would be able to see South Africa vs. West Indies on an activity free day. No England, or India (I would have to watch that epic tie from a hotel bedroom in Jaipur, a game so gripping even my American wife was hooked, a fact only slightly less impressive when it is understood she once had a boyfriend of Australian extraction) but a game with two proper sides nonetheless (no offence Canada). Continue reading

Are we watching any “Greats”?

In less than 24 hours the cricket World Cup starts in India.  We are very fortunate to have signed up Lizzy Ammond, one of the games foremost experts on the small ball game to blog for us during the tournament. Her opening post for us is just a mere loosener outside off stump.

“Prompted by the Barcelona v Arsenal match on Wednesday evening, I recall having a conversation with a few people about Lionel Messi and whether we were witnessing one of the all time greatest footballers.   I was having the conversation with some slightly grumpy old men but the resounding response was “no you can’t put him in the same bracket as Pele, Maradona, Moore, Beckenbauer, Zidane etc.”   Arguments such as La Liga isn’t a strong league, can he do it on a cold night in Stoke (!).   Surely this Barcelona team contains 1 or 2 players who will go down in history? Continue reading

Forsake all Alcohol

A couple of weeks ago Lewes played Salisbury City the FA Carlsberg Trophy at the wonderful Dripping Pan.  I am not shy to say there are few places better to watch a game of football than the Pan, with the South Downs shining brightly in the distance, like a new set of teeth just polished by a Polish dentist.

Best enjoyed with Harveys Ale

One of the joys of watching football here is to grab a pint of the local Harveys beer and stand on the terrace and watch the game unfold in front of you.  The match may sometimes not be the best in the world, but the top beer helps ease the pain as does the sparkling company.  But for the game on  Saturday this avenue of pleasure was closed.  The reason?  Well the fun police at the Football Association invoked rule xiv) in the FA Trophy Rules and Regulations 2010/11 which state:- Continue reading

It’s just not cricket

Can you imagine Manchester United playing Chelsea in a home game at The Emirates, or West Ham playing Everton at Anfield?  It simply would not happen unless there was a blooming good reason such as some ground redevelopment going on.  Well those crazy marketing people at the Twenty20 just keep the silly season going a bit longer.  We’ve had players wearing microphones when they have been batting or fielding, we’ve had the “lets win a seat in a jacuzzi on the boundary” and this year we have seen the introduction of the dancing “girls”.  So why now do we have the equivalent of the Premier League’s game 39?  The “not at home, home game”.

Step forward Kent Spitfires.  County Ground – Canterbury.  Lovely cathedral city in the garden of England, some 60 miles from London.  And therein lies the issue.  It is too bloody far away from London.  The ideal market for Twenty20 are lads, wanting a few beers after work.  Unless you take a half day you are not going to get down to Canterbury for a 5.30pm start unless you take a half day.  So here is the solution – play the game in London!

Not that I am really complaining of course.  With the chosen venue, the Oval just a beamer away from the office I was guaranteed to be there for the toss.  Twenty20 transcends across all types of people and so CMF’s office had also decided to travel UP from Kent to watch the game.  Who was I to argue – I would get to go out with suitable chums (Mr Grumble of course being one and a guest appearance from Barnet John) for a few beers, whilst being able to lovingly gaze into the eyes of my wife.  Or more likely she would be frowning back at me for being “embarrassing”…Lets just see shall we once that pint of Pimms has been finished! Continue reading

A double dose of disappointment

England woke up on Saturday 19th June to a dark cloud hanging over most areas.  The events the previous evening in Cape Town had taken the wind out of the sails of those horrible car window flags and the press had sharpened their knives in preparation to cut down another promising tournament.  I had taken Friday off, a rare break from the stresses of work.  So what did I end up doing?  Of course, working and then watching sport – a typical TBIR day off really.

Don’t feel too sorry for me though (no please really – I don’t want medals, or even money for such dedication).  The joys of the World Cup meant that by 12.30pm I was watching the Germany v Serbia game in the pub with a cold glass of Fuller’s Honey Dew beer.  A great game thanks to some bizarre refereeing but made even bizarre by the commentary on the TV being at least 10 seconds behind the picture.  It would have been rude not to have stayed for one more and of course the first half of the Slovenia v USA game, which as you will know USA won again (don’t believe me? Look here) before I headed down to the Oval. Continue reading

Sussex by the sea

Sussex Sharks 155-7 beat Somerset Sabres 103 all out by 52 runs – County Ground Hove – Tuesday 1st June 2010 – Friend Provident Twenty20 Cup
Arise Sir Twenty20.  However thought of the concept deserves a ruddy medal.  It is not everyone’s cup of tea.  The sight of Bumble last night watching a rather buxom cheerleader jog behind the bowlers arm in tight hotpants and little else will testify to that, but for sheer bloody entertainment you cannot beat it.

Let the Razzmatazz begin

Last night saw the 2010 season kick off, with a repeat of the final from August last year when the Sussex Sharks beat the Somerset Sabres.  Sharks I just get, being close to the sea and all that, but the Sabres?  What has a curved single bladed back sword have to do with the home of Cider and Cheddar cheese I will never know – but then again apart from having the same letter to start their names, Are Durham electric generators (Dynamos),  Yorkshire Carnegie – isn’t that just cheating and selling out as sponsorship and where are the ghosts in Derbyshire?

Anyway, the TBIR team headed down to enjoy some typical Summer evening weather – cold and wet.  Miraculously the game started on time with Sussex being asked to have a slog first.  The teams walked out to a fireworks style opening and indulged in the football tradition of the hand shake line up – how very inclusive. Continue reading

I hate Sunday’s

Unicorns 327-4 beat Sussex Sharks 325-4 by 4 wickets – Arundel – Sunday 23rd May 2010
Summer Sunday’s in England – yuck.  Honestly, spending all day watching one of the most exciting cricket games played in years in beautiful sunshine drinking beer – give me a cold Tuesday night kick off in December at Waltham Abbey anytime!

What more could a man wish for?

OK – I jest with you.  Sometimes things just click and produce a perfect day.  Today was one such day.  Firstly we had the weather.  Clear blue skies and temperatures touching the thirties.  Then we had the location – Arundel in West Sussex.  Home of the Duke of Norfolk (quite why he doesn’t stay in his own county I don’t know) who has his own cricket pitch in the vast grounds and today hosting the Unicorns against the Sharks.  Now the Sharks are not new to most – Sussex Sharks are one of the most formidable one day teams boosted by the return of England World Cup Winners Mike Yardy and Luke Wright to join over such one day specialists as Ed Joyce, Murray Goodwin, Joe Gatting and Monty Panesar.

The Unicorns?  Not a familiar name to most.  In fact they wouldn’t have existed at all if it wasn’t for Ireland deciding to play in the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies instead of the Clydesdale Bank tournament.  The ECB were left with one team short at the last minute and came up with an idea of putting together a “recreational” team, naming them the Unicorns.  Recreational essentially means players not deemed good enough for first class counties, or those still deciding whether to work for a living or play cricket.  Last week they upset Glamorgan with a 58 run win in Bournemouth in a game that their ex-captain Steve James called “Embarrassing”.

The best ground in the world?

Arundel is probably one of the finest grounds in the world.  It sums up the English game to a tee and when we arrived just after Sussex had put 50 on the board for no loss we quickly rolled out the spread and tucked into lunch as Ed Joyce and Chris Nash made short work of the Unicorn attack.  There was little to fault Sussex for in their batting as Yardy hit the lowest score at 36 (off 34 balls).  The final partnership of 88 by Goodwin (92 not out from 59 balls) and Gatting 55 off just 29 balls saw them edge past 320 off just 40 overs – more than 8 an over.  We predicted a 200 run win for the Sharks, and was even as bold to text such a statement to the master of Sussex Cricket insight, Danny Last.

It'll take a world record to beat that!

The girls took some time to believe that they could go and play on the pitch during the half time break, having been indoctrinated by the nanny state in watching football in England.  Perfect excuse to have another beer – I hate cricket.

So I set my stopwatch and thought we would be back on the road by 5pm.  I was wrong.  Despite a very slow start by Murtagh and Thompson they saw off the opening attack and started to play on the front foot.  Murtagh’s 21 off just 11 balls came to an end in the 5 over and at that point it seemed to be a question of when and not if the Sharks would bowl the Unicorns out by.

Worms eye view

But then came firstly Josh Knappett and then former Somerset all rounder Wes Durston.  Neither had been given the opportunity to carry on playing their game at the highest level but today was their moment.  Knappett hit 90 off 84 balls but more importantly batted through until the last but one over, providing vital support for Durston who hit 117 off just 68 balls including 5 sixes and 13 fours in one of the best one day inning’s most of the crowd at Arundel had seen.  When he fell the Unicorns still needed 80 to win but Knappett and captain Parsons with an unbeaten 41 saw the Unicorns home with just 3 balls to spare.

I'd love it if they beat us

Was the victory that remarkable?  Absolutely.  Firstly, this team had been put together without much notice.  Secondly, no team batting second in cricket history had ever chased down more than 325 in a 40 over game – in other words they had created their own World Record (where is Norris McQuirter when you need him!) in beating Sussex.  And yes finally they had beaten one of the most formidable one day sides in recent years, a team who had won the last two Pro 40 League titles and of course the Twenty 20 cup in 2009.  So hardly a push over.

What a day and what a game to choose.  Just underlines what is rubbish about English Summer Sunday’s.

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Scorecards from the amazing game can be found here.

More photos from the day can be found here.