Monday, 11 August 2008

Ovaltine For The Soul

This morning I woke up after yet more feverish dreams (I have been having these a lot lately, not sure why - illness hangover possibly) and decided to hightail it from BackofBeyond, Glos, to The Oval for the last day's cricket of 2008. Test cricket, that is. It was one of those rare occasions where the 5th day is meaningful (ok ok the series was lost but the match was in the balance).

So 4 hours of car & train and there I was, in this beautiful, calm stadium. £15 on the door - not bad at all. Cricket is often accused of being white, or middle class: well I clocked loads and loads of ethnicities there today: an old West Indian guy sat in the seat below me, greeting me warmly ("how y'a doing, alreet?") and an Asian family occupied the four seats to his left: loads of other types of people came in: people in suits, in patkas (not as a tribute to Monty, but for real), wearing skullcaps, in veils.

Yes alright I'm making a fuss of this but that is because we always hear this crap about cricket in this country, that only privileged whites like it: today told you in a broad saaf Laandan accent, that this view is a load of old cobblers.

Also the atmosphere was great: from being greeted by the West Indian guy to the people around me who were happy to chat, to the Saffers who passed by without any abuse or pisstaking: the atmosphere was just for good sport, that was all.

"nee trouble, mate, I divven't want nee trouble" - you often read this in Viz!! Well there was "nee fuckin' trouble" today, that's for sure.

And England won, which helped: and Fred hit a 6 to win, which was even better. But to feel so relaxed so far from home (I am so parochial these days), at what could have been (and was, for a little bit) a tense sporting occasion: to feel free to enjoy the sport in the company of others who wanted the same - was just great.

Oh and a word about the Barmy Army. As readers of this blog might recall I used to be part of this organisation. They have been great, supporting England all over the world.

But today they were twats. Why, guys, why the blinking flip did you start damnfool Mexican waves, chants and hollers of "woooo" when the match was at its only delicate moment: with England at 147-4 and wickets going down and new batsmen in and the conditions dodgy: all the ingredients for thrilling, absorbing cricket; why did you start all that bloody stupid arsing about? It couldn't possibly have helped England and it might have put them off.

Leave all that for when its 364-1, or restrict yourselves to just cheering good shots, clean blocks and near misses, eh? Not when the bowler's steaming in at 90mph with the match (nearly) at stake.

Great day, great sport (Cook was outstanding - that boy is a real talent; Ntini bowled brilliantly; umpiring seemed pretty good from where I was ((Peter May stand)); shame about the trains, but never mind.

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