I’m currently in the process of putting together a new digital story from Rodley CC, Malcolm Woodhead, Mike Wright and John Fenton talk about the most memorable matches they have played in over their cricketing careers. I’ve never played cricket, but they got me thinking about my most memorable matches as a spectator – and here they are!
Yorkshire Tea Village cup Final 2012, Reed C.C. vs. Woodhouse Grange C.C. Lord’s 9th September 2012
An unexpectedly beautiful September day after another disappointing summer. A perfect day for watching cricket. The match wasn’t particularly close or thrilling and I didn’t know anything about the teams playing, but I’ve chosen this match as it was one of my nicest days as a spectator. I’d been working at Lord’s for over six months and was starting to feel really at home there. My husband had finally found a job after nearly 11 months of stressful job seeking. I was feeling full of optimism and the joys of late summer! There was a great atmosphere and it was just a wonderful day’s cricket.
4th Test. England vs. India. The Oval. 22nd August 2011.
I remember during days 3 and 4 of this match watching on TV thinking ‘come on England, make in 4-0…just not yet!’ I’d booked tickets to day 5 back in November the year before because they were cheap, I’d had no idea at the time it might mean the chance to see England crowned the world number 1 test side. I was fairly disappointed not to see Tendulkar’s 100th 100 (he was out on 91) but overall it was a fantastic day. It was pretty clear early in the day that there was only going to be one result and the crowd were able to just sit back and enjoy it.
World Cup 2011. 11th Match, Group B: India v England at Bangalore, Feb 27, 2011
England versus India again but a very very different match! I was watching on TV this time and also I didn’t enjoy this match very much so it’s here for drama rather than fun. When India racked up 338 I thought England didn’t have a chance, especially after their scare against the Netherlands, but almost as soon as the chase began I started to believe. This is possibly my favourite innings ever from Strauss, and I’m generally a test cricket fan, but he was so impressive, proving all those who said he shouldn’t be in the One Day squad wrong. While he was there I was confident England would win as the required run rate dropped over after over – I would have loved to see him there to the end but couldn’t begrudge Zaheer Khan his wicket with that perfect yorker. After that viewing became less pleasant, after one ball – England have no chance, the next – I think they can do this! Many said that a tie was probably the right result – but I still maintain Swann could have run 2 off that last ball.
3rd Test. England vs. Pakistan. Headingly. 6th August 2006.
I’d been watching cricket for a while by this point but I always identify this as the day I fell in love with it. The 363 stand between Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf was painful to watch at times. It looked like there was nothing England could do, but this was proper test cricket and I learnt that anything can happen! This was also the day I fell in love with Strauss as captain, throughout the long long partnership his demeanor in the field remained thoughtful, determined and positive. With him as captain I felt there was always hope and started to think maybe the Ashes that winter wouldn’t be so awful after all, England had been hit with injuries but with Strauss at the helm…I don’t want to talk about that decision that occurred the following month as the memory is still painful (and also makes me rant and froth at the mouth!)
4th Test. England vs. Australia. Trent Bridge. 28th August 2005
I imagine this match will be on a lot of people’s lists but for me it has special significance as day 4 of this match was the first cricket I ever saw. I’m not sure how I managed to get to my mid-twenties without seeing a single ball bowled but I did. I grew up in a very anti-sport household and the flashes of football I’d witnessed confirmed to me just how unpleasant sport was so I just assumed cricket to be the same and it never entered my head to give it a chance. On this day, however, I was incredibly hungover and lay dying on the sofa, I hadn’t the energy to protest or care when my husband asked if he could put the cricket on. What I then saw before me through my blurry vision was utterly hypnotic, I didn’t know the rules or who’s side I was supposed to be on, but it didn’t matter – I just couldn’t look away.
So that’s my top five in my career as a spectator. If you’d like to hear a more active account of top cricketing experiences keep an eye on http://www.takingthefield.com Rodley CC members will appear there to talk about their favourite matches soon.