Saturday, 11 July 2015

The Rose Bowl, Southampton

Hampshire V Glamorgan

T20 Blast - 3rd July 2015

T20, so we are being led to believe, is going to be the saviour of English domestic cricket.  It will single-handedly get kids back playing the sport once more, halt the seemingly inexorable decline in attendances and, in the longer term help put England back in it’s rightful place at the pinnacle of world cricket.  Maybe.  Thus, in an attempt to suss what all the fuss is about, when down in the South-West recently, I decided a T20 Blast match was just what was required.

Somerset’s tussle with Gloucestershire was my first choice, but accessing the club website to buy a ticket, I was more than a little taken aback to be met with a screen jauntily stating “We’re all sold out!” – a message which simultaneously succeeded in sounding both apologetic and not a little bit smug.  Whatever else T20 was achieving, it was clearly floating the boats of the good people of Taunton.

Plan B involved at drive further south to Southampton to take in Hampshire’s encounter with Glamorgan at the Rose Bowl (or the Ageas Bowl, as it is presently being marketed).  But this venture also did not go to plan.  I was delayed on both the A34 and M3 (just Friday traffic apparently), with the consequence I entered The Rose Bowl with the visitors half-way through their allotted 20 overs.  

Furthermore, as a latecomer, it swiftly became apparent that my only parking option appeared to be to grudgingly hand over a tenner to join another few hundred cars in what was plainly just a farmer’s field - one I bleakly noted boasted but a single narrow exit.  Clearly, given the number of vehicles crammed  into the place, if I wanted to get to my Salisbury hotel before midnight I would have to forego the conclusion of the match to make the proverbial sharp exit.

Welcome to what was The Rose Bowl

Glamorgan's Andrew Salter thwacked this one high and straight into the waiting hands of Christopher Wood

The Ageas Bowl has incorporated into one end a Hilton hotel where,
for a hefty supplement I assume,
one get a room with a balcony overlooking the ground.

At the break between innings Bart Simpson put in an appearance 
to fire tennis balls into the air..... 

......which a series of pink-clad ladies failed to catch.

Panorama of The Ageas Bowl, Southampton.

Anyway, what I did witness was the visitors post what I felt to be an eminently reachable tally of 181 by the conclusion of their innings.  Hants however, made heavy weather of the business of chasing down their guests’ total, even failing (if memory serves) to score in either of their opening two overs.  They were well behind on the required run-rate when I left early, due mainly to the fact the Glamorgan lot really looked a well-oiled fielding machine, who clearly took the loss of each run as a personal insult to be avoided at all costs.  It surprised me not a jot to subsequently discover that the hosts had fallen short of their target by some 24 runs.

Embracing the T20 ethos, Hampshire County Cricket Club had clearly pulled out all the stops in an attempt to pull families into The Bowl.  This evening had been designated Ladies Day, and there were a few clumps of pink-dressed females scattered around the ground.  A jazz band had set up beneath one of the stands which as I far as I could tell anyway, appeared to do little more than tune-up.  And goodness me there was even a miniature funfair for the kiddies.

Regretfully, the club had also incorporated, as has the one-day game I discovered recently, the irksome habit of punctuating each boundary or over completion with a burst of toe-curlingly crap music over the public address system.  This nonsense even drifted toward karaoke at one point, as the lyrics to Sweet Caroline were displayed on the big screen.

But for all this, what the organisers of T20 have failed to grasp yet, is that no matter how one tries atmosphere cannot be manufactured – it really just comes along naturally or, in this case, not at all.

So what is next?  T11 perhaps?  Eleven overs per side, with each batsman facing an over each – with no fielders present, and just a bowler and wicket-keeper to perform all the fielding?  That would at least satisfy those seemingly insatiable run-hungry administrators of the game.

The Ageas Bowl, Hampshire CCC

Bouncy castles etc.

Hampshire v Glamorgan - July 2015

I have often pondered what real students who have toiled for
three to four years to achieve their qualifications feel when
these Honorary qualifications are handed out to celebs.

Panorama of The Ageas Bowl, Southampton

No comments:

Post a Comment