It would be fair to say that today, Mr Tickle found the cricket far from thrilling. Quite apart from his moaning about how boring it was, he seems to have missed some of it. Mind you, just before this photograph was taken, he had asked me to explain Swedish politics.
And, to be fair to Frank, it wasn’t the most exciting day’s cricket I’ve ever sat through. It was not improved by the weather. It was a traditional Yorkshire summer’s day with thick cloud cover all day and a few hints of rain. Still, the company made up for it. Those that were awake, anyway.
With no hint of the dullness to come, the four of us met in the breakfast room. I had spent a lovely night in my old room (number 22) and was quick to order a delicious breakfast of smoked salmon and poached eggs. Steve from Number 11, who, according to Frank, is just as posh as me, was amazed at the amount of salmon we had with our eggs royale. And I agreed. We both had a whole fish, I reckon. I was prepared for this glut of pescatarian fare given I’d had it the last time we stayed.
On the other hand, for the not-as-posh, coeliacs among us, it was a gluten free breakfast that resembled a normal cooked English breakfast. The lack of gluten was not apparent. Speaking of which, I mentioned to them that I find it a bit odd that people have to pay a lot more for something that has less stuff in it.
Suitably nourished and filled, Nicktor rang for a cab and we headed for Huddersfield where the plan was to meet most of the rest of the contingency. They had already met up somewhere in town for breakfast. Unexpectedly, we did all manage to find each other on platform 8 at Huddersfield station.
Today, there wasn’t just a cricket match being played. The Leeds festival was also on. We were surrounded by a few normal people going about their daily business, quite a few cricket fans and a fair smattering of under dressed teenagers with glitter on their faces and rips in their clothes.
The train to Leeds was, as a consequence, jam packed. In fact, when I left the train at Leeds, I understood why raspberries are so prone to claustrophobia.
Things did not exactly improve when we reached Leeds and changed trains. While the festival goers had gone, the amount of cricket fans had quadrupled. The three carriage train to Headingley had more people in it than room. It felt like the 5:30pm out of Delhi. How the ones on the roof managed to maintain their grip is beyond me.
Finally, though, we arrived at the ground, scanned our tickets and joined a queue for beer.
And so we enjoyed another day, sitting back with occasional walks and watched an exciting day’s cricket. Except it wasn’t. Though, to be completely fair, it was an amazing feat of endurance by the Indian batters. They were dismissed on day one for 78 and, in reply, the England batsmen clocked up an impressive 432 before declaring shortly after we arrived.
The declaration came shortly after a light rain started falling. This gave the grounds people a chance to demonstrate their skills with the covers, light roller and various other grounds tools. If I was completely honest, this demonstration, which lasted for about half an hour from start to finish was possibly the most exciting part of the day. From a spectator’s point of view at least.
No, actually, that’s not correct. The most exciting moment was when the pitch was invaded by a man wearing an English cricket outfit, carrying a bat. He managed to get to the crease and started to take guard when the security people suddenly realised that the English cricket team did not have a number 69 in the squad. Also, his pads were a bit fake given they seemed to be flowing off his legs.
He was dragged, kicking and screaming off the pitch. He did manage to become wedged in the boundary rope for a bit but, eventually, the troops hauled him away. For him it’ll be a hefty fine and ejection from the ground. For the rest of us it was a joyous bit of much needed entertainment. I like to think he did it for the rest of us. A noble sacrifice indeed.
I think he must have come from the stand over to our left. It seemed full of people in various costumes. There were the two cheerleaders, for a start, complete with short dresses, hairy legs and beards. Every time they returned to their seats a huge cheer would go up. Though, I think my favourite was the big group of nuns. Every now then they would all stand up and, when they sat back down, a whole bunch of sheiks to their right, would stand up and point at them.
I’ve said before how it’s weird, this dressing up thing at Test cricket. But, what I can’t get over is how some people can spend a summer’s day in a complete nun’s outfit and not die of the heat.
Of course, I’d go for the cheerleader outfit every time. Nice and short with breezy access.
Our stand, by comparison, only had one bunch of Wallys and they were right in front of us.
Still, dull or exciting, our cricket days are always an excellent time to catch up with people we haven’t seen for a while. It was lovely having long, catch up conversations, which isn’t always possible if the cricket is too exciting. It was a shame, though, that Steve from the squash club was busy and couldn’t come. He was missed.
There was one more bit of excitement I feel I have to record for posterity.
Late in the day, Yorky Pete met an old friend during a random wander around the ground. He flung his arms wide and embraced his friend but, unfortunately, his right hand connected with an innocent passer-by, clocking him on the side of the head. He was mortified and shocked, as was the innocent passer-by. It did make a great story and I don’t think he was responsible for the sudden closing of all the bars. Though, to be fair, they did all close shortly after this incident, due to excessive violence.
The game was gradually crawling towards stumps. Our valiant leader, Napoleon, suggested we leave a bit early. Unfortunately, the other 20,000 spectators must have heard him as the ground started emptying faster than a flood of otters released into a sewer.
We managed to get seats on another crowded train, this time, back to Leeds then another to Huddersfield. Napoleon managed to lose a few troops but, the bulk of us reached our destination and headed up to an Indian restaurant for dinner.
Once encamped, we proceeded to eat far too much food washed down with nice cold beer.
It was an excellent end to another great day of cricket.
Later, once goodbyes had been shared, hugs exchanged and kisses distributed to those that may not have wanted them, we caught a taxi back to Holmfirth. It was during the ride back that I asked why they always went for a curry. I didn’t get a reasonable explanation until Frank suggested it was because you could be loud and raucous in a curry house. I accepted this but then, the taxi driver who was with us at the time, said it was because Indian food had lots of heat and spice while other food was bland.
I have no idea what food other than Indian that the taxi driver has eaten, but I don’t accept his explanation. In retrospect, I think it also might just be habit.
Actually, it was only the second time the driver indicated he was actually in the car with us. The first was much funnier when Frank said that Ian was 66. I said he was the same age as me. Frank then asked how old I was. The taxi driver actually laughed at that.
Back at the hotel, we settled in for a lovely, sedate night cap. Unfortunately, a group of young chaps only just out of nappies, was having a very loud party which was pissing Nicktor off. At one stage I thought he was going to yell at them to “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” but he managed to restrain himself and happily sipped a whisky.
Eventually, we drifted upstairs to our respective rooms and retired for the night. Except for Nicktor and I, who were already retired.
By the way, India managed to get to 215 for the loss of only 2 wickets. A valiant effort.