I’ll just put it out there, I have never really been a cricket fan, I know next to nothing about cricket and it has never crossed my mind to attend a cricket match however, my Dad loves his cricket and spends hours in his shed listening to Test Match Special (TMS) whenever England are playing. I therefore decided to buy him tickets to see England v Pakistan at Old Trafford for his 60th Birthday. Obviously I couldn’t let him go on his own, so in the end, 4 of us accompanied him to the cricket.
It was a Sunday in July and thanks to the typical English weather, it was far from summer. However, being true Brits, that did not deter us one bit. It was raining slightly on arrival but nothing much to cause alarm. We ventured seamlessly through the gates and made a bee line for the portable radios, so my Dad could enjoy his Test Match Special whilst watching the cricket. We were all going to get one but when we saw the price (£10) our plan changed and just my Dad and boyfriend bought one as they were true fans of cricket and TMS.
We had arrived at the ground with about 45 minutes to spare before the game started. We sauntered around the various food and drink stalls, sampled some free food from Waitrose, purchased our first drinks of the day and found our seats. We were seated on the third row in Stand C, right by the players lounge. They were amazing seats and although not the cheapest (around £50 a ticket) they were worth the price. We would see the players as they came on and off the pitch and felt like we were really a part of the action. We were also close enough to enjoy the chants coming from Stand D (the party stand) but far enough away that it didn’t cause an annoyance.
We settled into our seats and soon the stadium filled with the familiar hymn, Jerusalem, and the England players ventured out onto the pitch. England were pitching at the time so we got to observe the entire team in action. Including poor Moeen Ali who was constantly serenaded and bombarded with comments from Stand D. He took it all in good stride though and often waved when they shouted to him. Even when they sang over and over how they wanted to know how he grows that beard.
The cricket action soon started and between each bowl I found myself asking cricket questions and by the end I was really into the game, and kept an eye on how England progressed the next day and also in the next test match. I seem to be a cricket convert now I actually vaguely understand what is going on! Every now and again those with the portable radios would erupt into laughter and it soon became apparent who was listening to TMS. I had to keep asking my boyfriend and Dad to repeat the jokes so I didn’t feel left out!
Unfortunately, due to the true British weather, play was stopped a few times when the heavens opened. Cue the awesome hover craft/pitch protector that whizzed across the ground to keep the wicket area dry. Each time it rained we always waited to watch it hover into place, not sure why but it was entertaining to watch!
We would then leave our seats and retreat to the covered champagne bar area (pretty much the only covered area in the ground). We would buy some more glasses of pimms, champagne or beer and huddle around with the huge crowds of people who had flocked to this small marquee, waiting for the rain to pass. The rain passed pretty quickly each time and was followed by some boiling hot sun. The sun was so strong that surprisingly my entire family came home sunburnt! Despite the constant clouds and on/off rain!
When it came to lunch we failed miserably with our choice. We panicked from all the choices and went for the hot filled baguette van. Bad choice. It was overpriced, not proper baguettes and not by any stretch of the imagination warm. I had a cheese and bacon baguette, which turned out to be a soft roll, with only slightly cooked bacon and grated cheese – the cheese wasn’t even melted!!
After a less than satisfying lunch, we then ventured off to explore the other food and drink vendors and came across the Hardy’s wine van and small bar area. I loved this place! They offered a bottle of wine in a plastic carafe, served in a portable ice bag! The wine was delicious, we went for a classic Sauvignon Blanc, split between 3 of us. It was £17, but for a bottle of wine of that quality at an event, I thought that actually wasn’t too badly priced. We took our portable ice bucket and wine back to our seats ready for play to restart after lunch.
I forgot to say here, on our way back to our seats the lovely Henry Blofeld was sat outside the cricket shop signing various items and taking selfies with admirers. My Dad is a huge fan of his and TMS, so I stopped by and asked him to sign my ticket for my Dad. He was such a lovely bloke, who sounded even posher in person than he does on TMS. My Dad was made up with his signed ticket and every time Henry comes onto TMS my dad messages me thanking me!
We enjoyed an afternoon of more cricket, with intermittent stops due to rain. To be honest, the stops proved quite useful as it meant breaks for the toilet/to get drinks etc could be taken during these stops, avoiding missing any of the action. We broke for tea just as England had stepped up to bat and I queued for ages for a Krispy Kreme doughnut. I had seen the van earlier on and decided I would treat myself in the tea break. Well, this did not work out how I planned. As I got closer to the front of the queue, I noticed the doughnut numbers dwindling. It was not looking good. By the time I was second in the queue, there were 6 original glazed left, and that was it. I thought I was going to be lucky as there was a group of four in front but NO, the bloke in front bought all 6! Despite him only actually wanting 4, but the deal was for 6 doughnuts. So, after a lot of back and forth he took them all, much to the loud disappointment of those of us left in the queue. I have to say, he was probably the most hated man in that moment!
Distraught (and that is not even an exaggeration) I walked away from the now empty Krispy Kreme van, full of disappointment and empty of doughnuts. This was a low point in the day for sure. Eventually, I got over the doughnut disappointment and enjoyed the last couple of hours of cricket before venturing home for a film and takeaway.
It was a great day out (doughnut disaster aside) and I would hands down go to the cricket again. There was a great atmosphere, so much food and drink to try and Stand D with their chants, repetitive songs and beer snake was highly entertaining. And to top it all off, England won the Test Match the next day!