Well the Summer is over, with the Vitality Blast T20 Finals Day bringing a conclusion to what has been an exceptional summer of Cricket.
The One Day International (Pakistan), World Cup (New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies – sorry Windies!), T20 (Yorkshire, and my adopted Birmingham Bears), the Ashes (Australia), Headingley, Old Trafford, and Edgbaston. Parents, Sandra, Brother In Law, Old School Friend, Old Cricket Coach, my first Bank Manager!, an oldest friend, a female professional cricketer ……. as I said an exceptional summer.
It has certainly been a full, varied and enjoyable summer, but why and did anything stand out?
First Day, Third Test at Headingley. Just walking into the ground again with my father the best part of 40 years after our last visit was simply brilliant …. even him banging on about the 1948 Series was a joy (but don’t tell him that).
There were a few contenders: I am far from convinced that Smith, Warner and Bancroft should have been selected. Personally I think they should have been banned for life and Australia banned from all cricket for a year as without punitive punishments crimes will continue to be committed (but that is a subject for another day). The hostility of the crowd towards them, and as the beer flowed towards each other was at times very unpleasant. It wasn’t really commented on by Sky or the BBC, who continued to bang on about redemption etc but the fact remains that the decision to select them caused much unrest in the crowd.
Headingley was one bad decision after another for Australia but really who cares!!!
No the worst decision was ……. picking Anderson was a grave error that pretty much everyone apart from the England Selectors saw coming (why is it across all sports England continually rush back iconic players before they are ready? Has it ever worked?)
Headingley! Not only because it is the Test Ground of my childhood (we also went to Trent Bridge regularly), and I will forever remember being there for Boycott’s 100th Hundred, but because they have done such a good job (so far) in developing it and I reckon (trying to be impartial) that the Yorkshire Crowd is the best in the country.
2019 saw me complete the set as far as the ‘original’ test grounds are concerned. I had been to a number at Test Matches over the work years at Lords and The Oval, so adding Old Trafford and Edgbaston completed the Original Six.
With respect to Chester-le-Street, Cardiff, Southampton, Bristol and Taunton I suspect I wont be venturing to any of these grounds. Nothing personal but I sort of resent them as it means less Test Cricket at the grounds I like!
Edgbaston I love. It is very much my ‘second home’ as far as cricket is concerned. The ground itself is a little battered and bruised in more paces than I suspect it likes, but the new stands and facilities are great. It is easy to get to and I have to say the crowd runs the Yorkshire fans very close indeed.
Old Trafford I liked a lot. Ground, facilities and access all excellent, but on the days I went I thought the crowd a little disengaged from the cricket. Others will tell you differently, and as you will see below I am heading back in 2020 so nothing much to complain about!
Ironically it wasn’t a game I was at, but the Ben Stoked innings at Headingley was amazing, and for us it was a great event as Sands and I were at Edgbaston watching a T20 match. I had been at the first and third days, but we had to make do with watching it at one of the bars in the main stand at Edgbaston ….. along with pretty much everyone else I think. Edgbaston had been great in keeping the crowd updated on the score, and at the interval people started to converge around the TV’s and as Stokes innings unfolded the crowds just got bigger and louder ….. a truly great spirit for a truly great innings from a very impressive man.
Test Match: end of story. Can be no debate in my mind. I fully appreciate the focus being on the White Ball and the World Cup, and without doubt it was a success, but really all that proves is that equal focus is required on all formats. If the Coach can’t handle all three formats, get a Coach for Red Ball and one for White Ball. If the players can’t play both formats either through skill confusion or fatigue, then make them pick a format.
The public pay a lot of money to attend a match these days, the least they deserve is that every time they watch the team is 100% prepared and focussed and have trained to the best of their ability.
As sign of the times I am sure: cricket has a healthy following and the marketing machines kicked in before the season had even ended. Yorkshire emailed that as an existing member I could book next years internationals in September. Old Trafford emailed that as an existing customer I could book internationals in September, and Warwickshire played a blinder with a combined Membership and Internationals offer ….. in September.
All of which means I already have the following booked for next year:
- June 11th and 12th: First and Second Days of the England v WIndies Test Match at Edgbaston
- July 5th: IT20 England v Australia at Old Trafford
- August 29th: IT20 England v Pakistan at Headingley
- September 5th: T20 Finals day at Edgbaston
Seems rather sparse after this summer, but probably a more sensible amount and as I intend to supplement with the T20 season and county season at Edgbaston.
I have two Full Memberships for 2020.
I will retain my Yorkshire one as although I rarely get a chance to go given the distance, I want to continue to support my home county. I love Headingley and want to retain the option to pop over for a T20 or County Game if time (and weather) permits, and I really want to go to a game at Scarborough with my parents. My parents friend organises the 364 Club Lunch, an annual event, and we will be going to this in 2020, and my plan is to carry on this ‘family tradition’, and who knows I may also get involved with this in a more official capacity.
Both Sands and I have joined Warwickshire as Full Members, which (unlike Yorkshire membership) includes T20 so we will be watching the T20 from the comfort of a members lounge, as we will the First and Second Days of the Windies Test Match and T20 Finals Day. I am also looking forward to being able to ‘pop down the road’ to catch some County Cricket, and am prepared to put on a Club Tie for a sporting dinner or two.
Sorry but I just can’t get excited about this. Hard to find too many positive comments online, but a lot of money is being thrown at it and regardless of the quality of the Cricket I am sure it will be spun as a success, but why?
Why do we need another short game format? T20 works really well, the ODI games are a good balance between the T20 and Tests, and Test (sorry Red Ball) needs more focus. The gulf between County and Country level is already too wide, so surely that is the area to ‘solve’ first. It is not as if we don’t see the international cricketers playing in the UK enough already: T20 contracts, the non stop touring of the modern day international, county overseas and Kolpak players ……
I suspect that I will watch a little on TV, but I certainly have no allegiance to a team or the structure, and I can’t see any treason to spend any money or time on it. I have a full enough cricket schedule already thanks, and as for spending more money …… Yorkshire Man remember!!