20 May 2007


I presume from the post I left on Friday morning that no-one could think that I don't love going to Lords - of course I do. I'm sure everyone else does as well or otherwise it wouldn't be so hard to get a ticket. But there's always some moaning from people around me and I can't help a lot of that could be easily stopped with a bit of extra thought from the cricketing authorities. Here's just a few examples:

Getting into the ground:

There is clearly a problem getting spectators into all sports grounds - cricket is not alone - and the tightening of security due to an increased threat of terrorism lately makes things worse. But I can't help feeling that the problems could largely be avoided. By that I don't mean that there should be no security checks as some whiners around me in the queue seemed to be suggesting....far from it. I think my exact words to them were "I'd rather queue up for a while than die from a bomb". But there could be a few other things that would help.

The time that people arrive is clearly a big issue. All the moaners around me were struggling to get into the ground at 5 to 11, desperate to catch the first over. One guy even fell over and injured himself as he tried to break into a run to catch the first ball. But there was no-one else to blame but himself as he'd left it so late to get into the ground. The same was true for all those around me having a whinge (and me which is why I wasn't complaining!). It's common sense that spectators should get there early so that they aren't under time pressure if they want to see the first ball. The ground authorities could help with this by putting on entertainment of any variety before the game. Imagine the TMS team taking questions from the crowd between 9:45 and 10:30 from the centre of the pitch etc etc. With a little thought, the authorities could make it more enticing to arrive at the match early. Free bacon roll before 10 anyone?


The grounds want to make as much money as possible, that's common sense and I don't blame them. They do this by restricting the amount of alcohol you can take in, or not letting you take any in at all. Then they charge premium prices to buy alcohol you could have brought with you. We feel hard done by, because we always used to be allowed to bring in as much alcohol as we wanted. But that's not really the main concern. The concern is that there are a couple of idiotic rules that serve no purpose other than to frustrate the paying customer.

Buying 4 beers at a time or one bottle. Why, oh why? Does it reduce the number of people getting drunk? No. Does it create longer queues at the bar? Yes. If common sense was used and any number of cans were allowed the result would be less draught beer being sold as it's impossible to carry many pints. But, 12 or 16 cans can easily be carried by stacking 4 packs on top of each other. Net result: less time at the bar waiting for drinks to be poured, maybe even less bar staff required, customers who can watch more of the game, far less drinks spilt over others as people try to carry four pints back to their friends.

Opening cans at the bar? Some staff do and some don't but I gather there is some legal requirement to do that. Surely that can be got round?

Returning to your seats with you beers is often comical. Clearly your hands are full. You've sat in your seat for a bit before going to get beers so it's not like you don't know where you are going. But the ticket guy always needs to see your ticket. I found myself having to ask the guy to pull out the bottle of mineral water in the inside pocket of my jacket and then find my ticket, which he did and I was then allowed through to my seat. It doesn't bear thinking about what could have happened if I had my ticket in my trouser pocket! Let's see - an alternative ticketing system that involved wearing a band around your wrist once you are in. That should solve that one.

Had a great day at the cricket and fancy a last round of drinks before the close. If that's ever been your thought process you'll know that the bars are shut at this point. How is this sensible? The authorities have shown some commercial nouse by reducing the amount of alcohol people bring in so that you can make the money instead of supermarkets and off-licences outside the ground. So why alter that view later in the day? The sensible thing to do would actually be to encourage drinking towards the end of the day because people will then mill around a lot longer after the game, rather than all 28,500 people trying to get through the exits at the same time. A lot of spectators hit the local pubs to discuss the day's play - I can't help feeling that grounds are missing something here - why not take a share of that post match drinking revenue and help crowd control as everyone tries to leave after the match in the process?

Bad Light

This is increasingly becoming rediculous and a serious problem given that spectators have paid £60 for their entertainment. On Thursday morning the umpires were quite happy playing in what is sometimes considered bad light, but in the final session of the day on Friday they seemed desperate to get the players off, despite the fact that England wanted to carry on. Sarwan was grinning from ear to ear. The cynics around me suggested that umpires never worry about bad light until 25 overs are played and spectators therefore can't claim their money back. The more the players come off for bad light, of course, the more a one-sided match can be extended to the 5th day to ensure the authorities coffers are filled to the maximum.

Here's an idea. Bad light is part of the game. When you elect what you would like to do having won the toss you must consider the chances of bad light. On Thursday, for example, with cloud everywhere it was always going to get pretty dark later in the day, so Sarwan could chose to bowl with the advantages that come from bowling in slightly darker light (or is it all physchological - after all there's a huge sightscreen to help the batsman?), but also knowing that his fielders will find it tough given poor sighting conditions. Come 6pm, the umpires can take the players off if they consider the light poor, but only after 6pm.

As someone that loves going to the cricket I'm a little concerned that these things need to be considered now rather than in a few years time. After all, if I can sit at home with a group of friends bantering in the same way as we do in the crowd, but it takes 30 seconds to get beers from the fridge, rather than 20 minutes in a queue, and we have access to all the replays such as Hawkeye and Hot Spot, won't there come a time when even people like me think that it's easier and cheaper to watch at home, but without the cost?

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