Friday, 25 August 2017

All good fun - but not cricket as we know it.

Posted by Tony Hutton

Thursday 24th August and Test Match Special came to Weetwood, Leeds to celebrate sixty years of this BBC institution. As members of the small group who regularly watch cricket at the Leeds University ground it came as quite a shock to see how the ground had been very quickly transformed into a stadium with stands and seating for three thousand spectators, together with marquees, food outlets and the all essential portaloos.

However despite all the bonhomie of the commentators and guests for what was billed as Geoffrey Boycott's XI v Jonathon Agnew's XI, there were serious problems for the huge crowd waiting to be admitted at three p.m. for a four thirty start to the T20 game. We were aware that no cars were to be admitted to the complex and did find a space in a nearby street, already packed with vehicles which came as a big shock to local residents.

This could have been avoided if the organisers had thought to acquire use of the large car park available opposite the ground at Lawnswood School, currently not in use during the holidays.

This was to prove only a minor problem as when the huge queue began to move only at snails' pace when the gate (only one) was opened it soon became apparent that bag searches and wanding (!) were in operation. When we finally made it to the gate not only were our chairs confiscated but also water bottle and a small box of cakes. How ridiculous. Worse than travelling by plane.

Once inside we were amazed at all the portable stands and marquees had been erected, together with a big screen as the match was being televised by the BBC on the red button. We could just about hear the Radio 5 live extra commentary, initially by Henry Blofeld, who at least gave us the score at regular intervals as the scoreboard was obscured by the giant big screen.

The popular side.

Agnew's XI captained by Phil Tufnell made 140-9 in their 20 overs with Charlie Dagnall and Harry Judd (one of the many 'celebrities' on show) both retired after scoring 30. Some of the bowling, and catching, was unbelievably bad. How can anyone take Allison Mitchell's commentary seriously after the awful over she bowled. A welcome addition to the commentary team all the same. There was plenty of humour from the very well behaved crowd, probably suffering from jet lag, after the long wait to get in.
Vaughan has a bowl.

Michael Vaughan captained Boycott's side and was obviously delighted when Graham Swann was out to the first ball of the match. He even invited a member of the crowd in jeans and coloured T shirt to field on the boundary (he must have been yet another celebrity) only for an over zealous steward to try and remove him from the field.

The giant screen shows highlights while groundsman Richard Robinson consults at half time.

All good fun but certainly not cricket as we know it and despite enjoying the carnival atmosphere in our normally so quiet and peaceful ground, we left at half time and found that T20 cricket on Sky was not quite so bewildering despite the new commentary duo of Andrew Flintoff and Michael Lumb.
It is certainly a long way from the day's of John Arlott, still the best cricket commentator ever. What he would have made of today's antics I shudder to think.

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