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

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

Beckenham Palace

You may remember dear reader that last Sunday on Father’s Day I was absent from the Fuller household, enjoying the sunshine and “local” sights in Oslo.  Instead of simply dismissing this US-created excuse for the card industry for another year, the little Fullers wanted to treat Daddy and so we postponed it a week.  So queue a lie in, breakfast in bed, some very pleasing presents and an offer to attend the cricket at Beckenham was forthcoming – which of course it would have been rude to have turned down.

I had actually managed to sneak another quick Twenty20 game in on Thursday night, watching Surrey get absolutely stuffed by the Essex Eagles at the Oval.  Surrey had been the team to beat for nearly five years but their team had grown old and the way that Alastair Cook destroyed their attack at the Oval was a sign of the new order.  Cook went on to get 100 not out in an innings of power and control, not giving one single chance away in his 57 ball innings.

So Surrey were already eliminated from the competition, and Kent’s successive wins over Surrey and Hampshire meant that they were guaranteed a Quarter Final berth anyway. So it appeared to be a “dead rubber”, but as the game was being played at Beckenham, it was  too much of a draw to miss.  Beckenham is our closest “county ground” and I use that in the loosest sense of the word as although it is only 5.2 miles from Chez Fuller it is certainly not in Kent!  It sits almost on the South Circular in the shadow of the huge TV ariels of Crystal Palace in South London.  The ground, which Kent use once a year for two matches sits on the old Lloyds Bank Sports Ground.

It was here that in 1989 I completed a unique treble.  At the time I worked for the bank and played for them in three different sports.  In early May 1989 I hit 102 not out on the very square that Kent Spitfires would be using.  My innings was not quite in the same league as Mr Cook’s as it look me over 3 hours and I believe from memory I faced nearly 150 balls, but it still remains one of my two only centuries.  The following day I played for Lloyds Bank Park Lane versus Lloyds Bank Mayfair in a real grudge match.  I had the type of game that newspapers would have a field day over.  A hatrick by halftime, including a 25 yard free kick and a very very rare Fuller header (only three in my whole career) had set me up nicely, and when I back heeled a fourth in after an hour it was all rosey….and then I got Sent Off.  I rose to the bait of a young whipper snapper from the machine room (banking sounded so exciting back then) and smacked him one.  Right in front of the referee who happened to be our Area Manager as well…Ouch.

Three days later I was back, making my debut for the bank at Hockey and I managed to score a goal, although the four I had chalked off still riles with me today – after all what sort of game has rules where you can’t “turn” or use the outside of your stick to dribble!

Those were the days and today the Bank’s sports ground is no more – sold off to finance an Exec’s pension fund or something.  I would like to think that the small plaque that was put up on the wall to commemorate my century still sits with some historian somewhere, although I doubt it very much.

Kent Spitfires 184-7 beat Surrey Brown Caps 168-9 by fifteen runs – Beckenham – Sunday 28th June

Robert Key's right at home here!

Robert Key's right at home here!

 London was in the grips of a heatwave and after a morning in the garden with our new Teepee fully erected and the fire pit ready and stoked, we headed over to Beckenham.  We prepped Littlest Fuller to say, if asked, that she was five and thus avoided paying for her entry, although CMF did put a ban on my idea of putting both girls in the boot so we wouldn’t have to pay for either.  The crowds had come out in force early, enticed by the fact there was absolutely no other sport on anywhere in England apart from the bore that is Wimbledon.

Kent won the toss and elected to bat first, on a track that I know only too well did not play spin.  Unlike Essex on Thursday night, Kent made heavy work of the Powerplay, with Key more interested in the food stands it seemed that attacking the poor Surrey bowlers.  With the score at 53-2 after 7 overs, Geriant Jones was joined by the run machine Martin van Jaarsveld.  These two demolished all comers and put on 96 in double quick time with Jones plundering 47 off 30 balls (including two huge sixes) and MVJ as he is known to his fans scoring another half century, eventually departing after forty balls for 64.  184 in the end was a disappointment and it was only some excellent bowling by Spreigel with 4 for 33 that kept the score under 200.

Surrey had only honour to play for and whilst wickets fell regularly the first six batsmen all made over 20 and all scored at over a run a ball.  But they simply ran out of decent batsmen and fell fifteen runs short in the end as the storm clouds gathered all around us. 

We got home for CMF to cook roast beef, a quick Super Mario competition and the Little Fuller’s first bowling lessons in the garden, using our new Teepee as the wicket…what a spiffing Fathers Day!

Twenty20 farce….

I wasn’t there but got angry watching the game from Hove last night.  Sussex beat Kent because Kent were 2 runs short on the Duckworth Lewis method after 11 overs because the light was so bad – in the opinion of the umpires.  The game was an officially classed night game and so according to the rules the Floodlights had to be switched on for the duration of the game.  However, four of the lights had failed earlier in the day yet the game was a) allowed to start, b) not reduced in length.  So after Sussex huffed and puffed to 131-3 Kent had to bat in a situation which should never have been allowed to happen.   Kent kept ahead of the required run rate for the first 10 overs without losing a wicket.  In fact only 3 teams so far this season have gone as far as the 10th over without losing a wicket.  After the 11th over with Kent at 61-0 and 2 runs behind the D/L score the umpires confired and said there would be one more over.  Kent needed to score 5 to win….As Martin-Jenkins was running in to bowl the umpires stopped play and said it was too dark and in the confusion announced Sussex had won….No offering the light or anything.  A complete farce!

Secondly, start of the Twenty20 World Cup and England are playing Holland.  I have no issue with the smaller teams playing but the ECB want £60 a ticket for this one!  £60 for a game which if England bowl first could be over in little more than an hour…..