Where Were You?

Summer of Cricket – 2005

All the tremendouses, amazings and unbelievables have been said several times over by test players struggling to keep their grip on reality. We followed every minute from some out of the way places: luxury cruise liner sailing around Ireland, the heart of Staffordshire and N. Yorkshire. It was the spine that held the summer together. Tense stuff that could have boiled over into naked aggression but never did. McGrath and Warne’s farewell to test cricket.

1. 21-25 July Lord’s –  lost

We were on a ship cruising the coast of Ireland. Belfast, Killibegs, Dingle, Cork, Waterford, The Scillies and Dublin. There wasn’t a TV lounge as such, not showing Sky anyway, so it was snatched information only. Enough to get that sinking feeling ‘here we go again.’

2. 4-8 Aug Edgbaston – won

We were moored at Leek. The Caldon Canal comes of The Trent and Mersey near Stoke. It originally carried raw materials up to the potteries from deepest Staffordshire. Leek and Froghall are the termini. The Froghall branch was planned to go further to Uttoxeter.

3. 11-15 Aug Old Trafford – draw

Hilton

4. 25-29 Aug Trent Bridge – win

Helmsley

5. 8-12 Sept Brit Oval – draw

President’s Day

2004. Lord’s test against W. Indies. Umbers smiled kindly upon me and got me two tickeks. He is an MCC member of course. Doesn’t worry me. We were on the boat at Alvechurch, south of Birmingham and Edgbaston and beyond Cadburies. We got the train from Redditch up to New Street. Big Dave then got windy, ‘Look at this notice,’ pointing to a warning that those without tickets were liable to a fine. The lady in the ticket office said £120. Together? No each. What? Virgin trains, that’s why. Go silver service. Cost you £20 all in. These amounts may not be quite accurate, but they are close and make the point. Bit slow though, and then we’d to get across London. We just made the opening overs.

Lords was full. Strange men selling beer from barrels slung on their backs. Strange men in funny coloured jackets and ties. A bearded coal black man sat on the bench in front of us in a pork pie hat, ‘Just short of a horn,’ I said. Robert Keyes was in the 90’s at lunch. The Queen came and delayed the restart. A big fat bloke in a different funny coloured tie, right in front of us went beserk. Stood up and turned to all the crowd, must have had a few, ‘I’m as much a fan of the royals as anyone,’ he said. ‘but Keyes is on for his maiden test hundred and play is postponed for the sake of a few handshakes.’ A few nods and no one took offence. I thought he was hilarious. Big Dave knows nothing about cricket and it showed. Everyone was happy to help him out. 301 for 1 and Keyes on a double hundred by close of play.

Ee it were a long way back. I don’t think we made the boat much before midnight. Joan had never been to London before and she didn’t like it. We had a great week across to the Grand Union up to Aston, the Farmer’s flight and moored at Gas Street Basin.

2000. Headingley test against W. Indies.
 

1999. Australia and S. Africa tied the world cup semi-final at Edgebaston. Last over, fourth ball, one to win, Kleusner called for a run and Donald stood still. Australia got to the final because of a higher super-six position.

1998. Trent Bridge Atherton and Donald. Donald racing in like a thoroughbred horse and Atherton trying to survive. He actually punched one ball to the keeper, but the umpire didn’t give it and Atherton didn’t walk. We were on holiday caravanning in Dartmouth. Early evening on my own, sat in the awning and it just happened on TV.

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