The Surrey County Cricket Club sometimes plays its home games at Guildford. A few times, years ago, I’d meet up with Nicktor and some of his workmates at what they called ‘The Gay Pub’ for lunch then a slow wander down to the cricket ground for an afternoon of sun, fun and first class cricket.
Surrey’s actual home ground is the Oval, which isn’t in Surrey anymore. It has been the home of Surrey Cricket Club since 1845 when it WAS still in Surrey. But, whenever international games are being played at the Oval, Surrey plays at Guildford.
Guildford is a lot easier for me to get to (particularly with the new direct train service) as well as being a lot closer. So, when I found out that the return county match against Somerset was being played there this week, I decided to go on the first day. That was today.
Of course the weather had to be accommodating and, apart from about 37 drops, the big black clouds just drifted away somewhere else and left us all dry.
I figured I’d be pretty lonely on a Monday at a first class cricket game, especially with the Cricket World Cup on at the moment. When I arrived (half an hour before the off) I more or less had carte blanche in my choice of seat. Naturally I headed for mid wicket.
Unfortunately the prime mid-wicket spot had already been taken by a chap with pencils and spiral book, preparing to record everything that happened in the game. I sat two chairs from him and set myself up…which took about five seconds.
The place looked quite empty and I figured I’d be able to move around freely if I grew bored with my seat. This thought was strengthened when I looked at the long, long row of plastic chairs lining the outfield.
An hour later, most of the seats were being used and the stands directly across the ground were also well stocked with eager pension age fans. I’m not as good as Nicktor as guessing attendance numbers but I’d say there was more than 1,000 but less than 2,000 there. It was a good, solid and knowledgable crowd who were there to see some great cricket.
And they weren’t disappointed.
The bus full of supporters who had travelled up from Somerset were especially delighted with the beautifully played 137 scored by George Bartlett. And the supporting batsmen also showed great skill and finesse as balls were stroked all round the ground.
But it wasn’t all about the batting. In the field, the Surrey team seemed confident. The bowling was generally consistent producing wickets throughout the course of the day, the final four falling in 5.3 overs.
Somerset ended on all out for 344 and Surrey came on to bat for two overs before stumps.
After lunch, I was rather pleased to see that a school had allowed its pupils to come down and line the boundary ropes. They all seemed quite keen to watch and there was a flurry of excitement near the clubhouse when an outfielder happily signed autographs.
Above is one group of boys near to where I was sitting. There were other groups dotted around the ground. This is how you keep the game going rather than making shorter and shorter versions of it. Instil a love for the game at an early age. And make it accessible. Anyway…
It was lovely day out, I have to say. Although I didn’t do an awful lot beyond eating nuts and having a couple (literally) of beers, it was brilliant being able to sit and watch my favourite sport for a full day without resorting to television.
When I walked into the house, Mirinda asked how the day had gone and I told her how much I enjoyed it. She then asked who had won. I told her there was another three days yet so no-one really. She rolled her eyes.
Actually, I reckon I won.