Beery Days at the Cricket

I realise many readers of this blog will (a) know little or nothing about cricket and care less and/or (b) dismiss it as just another type of deviant behaviour practiced mainly in English public schools (which is largely true) but bear with me. I love it even though the sport’s governing body do their very best to make it hard to access.

It’s not on free-to-air television in the UK for a start (this year’s World Cup Final apart) so its home star players are unknown to most. It’s easily disrupted by the weather (not solely the fault of the authorities I think we should grudgingly agree). And it’s a sport that confusingly exists in three – soon to be four – formats that can variously last from three hours to four or five days. Some of the practices are arcane and the points system for county championship games, as well as changing every few years, means a team can do quite well without winning many games. There are those who think it’s not as athletic as other sports but this picture of the Worcestershire players’ pod surely proves otherwise.

The four day county games are my preferred choice. But because the England & Wales Cricket Board think they don’t make enough money they schedule these games for midweek dates outside the prime summer months when fewer people can go. Then when crowds are relatively small they say it proves no one wants it.

I started writing this in bracing winds in Liverpool where Leicestershire battled their way grimly to a draw. On the last day and a bit they made 151-6 from 98 overs. That’s slower than slow and may defeat my own argument that it is an entertaining sport.

Where’s the beer?

Tipped off by a sympathetic Lancastrian, I negotiated three requests for my non-existent membership card to reach the top floor of the victorian red brick pavilion, where a glass of Black Sheep was calling my name. I don’t mind it when it’s not served too cold and the alternative (Bombadier) was unthinkable if not actually undrinkable. It’s such a plain beer though.

Just when I thought I was safe the barman asked to see my membership card but by then the beer was safely in my paws.

The Media Centre

The title pic is from Scotland v Afghanistan at the Grange, Edinburgh where the pavilion has bench seats fixed to the concrete roof, which is ideal in a cold and wet climate. We spent a happy afternoon chatting to some lovely visiting supporters who had driven overnight from London to be there.

You see cricket engenders conversation. If we’d been sitting on the same bus as these lads we probably would never have spoken. But sitting in the cold for hours on end watching not a lot happen forges bonds in mutual adversity and we ended up exchanging phone numbers.

My dad is a member at Worcestershire and trips to New Road remain a treat. The view of the cathedral; the cakes served at 3pm in the ladies pavilion (in advance of which an outwardly genteel but subtly vicious scrum forms); a wander up to the Plough at lunchtime for a pint of Salopian beer or the earthier charms of St John’s; all part of a typical day at the cricket.

With New Road recovering from a major flood, we watched Worcestershire play on a club ground at Kidderminster last week. Three beers were on in top condition. They flew off the bar, changing rapidly over the course of a couple of days. You could take the beer outside. I spotted a copy of What’s Brewing in a bin. Sometimes cricket feels like one big outdoor pub.

Kidderminster CC

This weekend was spent in Chester-le-Street where Durham took lunch on the first day at 47-6 against Worcestershire. For the uninitiated that’s not a good score. Rain fell so we had a couple of decent pints in the Sticky Wicket in the good company of home supporters, watching the Women’s Wimbledon Final till the rain abated, briefly.

I am not saying it was better than watching cricket in the Stygian Durham gloom but it was a rather fine way to spend an hour or two. Cheers.

26 thoughts on “Beery Days at the Cricket

  1. Oh yes. Must stop just looking at pics and read a few.

    I find the concept of cricket better than the actuality. I’ve seen Anderson and Cook play the Uni at Fenners the last 2 years and I can’t see the ball. At least on cricinfo there’s numbers to follow, unlike the scoreboards at the World Cup, apparently.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We comment on all topics even if we know nothing about them. I think baseball and cricket both elude people since neither sport has a clock. People love the final minutes of a sporting event. The whole game typically builds to that moment. Losing it completely changes the feel of a game. No clock is part of what makes baseball great. Not sure if that is also true of cricket. (Great stands in that first photo. Really beautiful.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dave. Interesting point. I suppose the effective equivalent of the clock in cricket is the number of overs (units of 6 balls) in an innings, of which there are one or two depending on format. How long an innings goes on in baseball and cricket is potentially limitless. Both sports have their own rituals and blizzards of stats. You must come to a few hours in Worcester on one of your trips and I can interpret the nuances. Good drinking options in town too!

      Like

      1. I have never watched cricket. I have had it explained a few times, but nothing sticks since I don’t see it played. I liked Worcester. Seems a very livable southern city to me.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Very good. Thought you were referring to Denmark’s one run win over Finland. What sport other than cricket would decide a result, not by the number of runs scored, but by how they were scored. Would be like football declaring the winner of the World Cup to be the team that scored the best goals in a 2-2 draw.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was a bit heartbroken for Croatia after they were magnificent in last year’s World Cup Final but that was nothing compared to how I felt for the New Zealand players last night. NZ really couldn’t have bowled and fielded any better than that*, and their sportsmanship was a magnificent example to us all.

        *Obvs should have had someone positioned for the deflection off a sliding Stokes’s bat though.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Loved reading this and so much I agree with, especially in terms of preferring the four day County Championship matches. I particularly enjoy touring the outgrounds and happily remember being half-froze at Aigburth, sunburnt at Horsham and starstruck at Guildford (a certain Ricky Ponting playing for Surrey and proving an immovable object when Warwickshire were pushing for victory). So much of the beauty of cricket is what happens around the game, chatting away, doing crosswords, packed lunches, beer tents, I could go on. Although Warwickshire are my team, I do have a sneaking soft spot for Worcester as almost the quintessential English cricket ground (and not just because of the cake) – never watched cricket at Kidderminster though so I’m hoping to correct that in the final couple of months of the season. Cheers, Paul

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a terrific post🏏👍 and timely too as Martin and you have covered the delights of yesterday 😎 I couldn’t live abroad as I’d miss my cricket too much …love the sound of sticky wicket in Durham and Steve Rhodes, Norman Gifford and Graham Hick were athletes of the highest order 😄 where exactly is KCC in relation to Aggborough?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for that- appreciated. The ground in Kiddy is on Chester Road, quite near the football and a ten minute stroll to the beer-friendly area around the station. They play in the top division of the Birmingham League so a good standard and a fine way to spend an afternoon.

      Like

  5. (pulls randon beer blogger name from hat) – It’s Duncan!
    (also, you’re the only one who didn’t post before I started a two week, two place, holiday)

    “I realise many readers of this blog will (a) know little or nothing about cricket and care less ”

    That mostly fits me I’m afraid. However, with regards to b) I like that fact that it’s mainly a Commonwealth sport (I’m talking full members here of course). 🙂

    “That’s slower than slow and may defeat my own argument that it is an entertaining sport.”

    SCC (slow cricket clap). 🙂

    “The Media Centre”

    Several off the cuff remarks came to mind but I think I’ll err on the side of decorum. 😉

    “But sitting in the cold for hours on end watching not a lot happen forges bonds in mutual adversity”

    Funny how life’s like that at times.

    “all part of a typical day at the cricket”

    Not a bad way to spend the day.

    “Sometimes cricket feels like one big outdoor pub.”

    Maybe the governing body should consider making that one of their slogans.

    “in the Stygian Durham gloom ”

    Is that in reference to the Wimbledon play or just being in Chester Le Street vice Durham proper?

    Cheers

    – And with that I’m off to prepare for our 2nd trip. Just spent four days in Whitehorse. Off for a week in Kelowna Thursday.

    Below is me in front of the Klondike paddle steamer in Whitehorse. Sadly, it no longer has a saloon, or gambling. 🙂

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/gT5VpWXzp4ARQUmV6

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice pic! Looked up Kelowna, it looks beautiful. If it was in Scotland (which parts of it could be but not the vineyards), it would our 4th biggest city. Have a great trip!

      Like

    2. I think the complexity of cricket is overplayed, its not that weird, but I wonder what Russ would have made of the England innings on Sunday.

      The quality of the Kiwi fielding would have been a good comparison with the best of baseball.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The laws and playing regulations are arcane in parts but the general premise is simple. Baseball can be very slow too of course but catching looks ridiculously easy compared to cricket, though cricket probably learned a lot from how they throw.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s