The usual Heavy Rollers gig is Edgbaston, of course, but this year there was to be no test match in Brum.
Indeed, there has been much musing and debate since June 2007 as to whether this outing comprises a Heavy Rollers event or not.
In short, it does as far as I am concerned.
The evening before the match started, we were supposed to have a net at Old Trafford. Charles had arranged it all. The Old Trafford lot had been reluctant at first, priority for test match teams, can’t have oiks in the same nets as international players, blah blah. But when Chas explained that it was our tradition to net at Edgbaston the night before the match (based on a sample of one previous occasion, the year before, negotiated through similar reluctance), someone at Old Trafford was daft enough to relent and take our booking…but was then too polite to tell anyone to keep the place was open for us.
Result – disappointment the night before – only consolation being an amazing meal at Yang Sing (yes, my idea, yes, I know what I am doing, Chinese food-wise) for the four of us who had ventured that far north. Given the fuss-pot group involved: Nick, Harish, Charles and “me-no-fuss-pot” , the Yang Sing team worked wonders with a feast with plenty of food for all to enjoy.
The first day at the test was a day to watch England batting pretty well. Chas was still fidgeting about the net; I suggested that our best chance of real redress (i.e. a net) was to try and get them to allow us a net the next morning before the start of play. So we went to see the indoor school people and managed to find a suitably apologetic and sympathetic lady. She agreed that we had been seriously inconvenienced, to the extent that merely getting our money back was not adequate; she also managed to arrange for us to have our net at 9:00 am, before play the next day. She even arranged for us to have a parking space at Old Trafford when the inevitable question came up. Yes, Chas could then leave the car at Old Trafford all day. Quite a result.
So in the end, we were able to drive into old Trafford for Day two of the test early in the morning, as if we owned the place. Into the nets and let the fun commence. Around the time I came to have my bat, a small posse of West Indian stars turned up in the adjoining net. I especially remember Ravi Rampaul bowling to Shiv Chanderpaul. I also remember having to encourage the heavy roller guys to bowl at me rather than rubbernecking at the adjoining nets.
Whether Shiv Chanderpaul rubbernecked to observe my technique I couldn’t say, as naturally I was concentrating hard on my batting – watching the ball all the time, all the way. But Shiv did make a 50 that day, so I suspect he picked up a few ideas through observation in those nets.
The day got weirder once we were in our seats. Someone behind us spent more or less the whole day on his feet in a Borat mankini. He and his mates were also doing some strange business, passing around a whole cooked chicken while singing its praises. And of course the inevitable Old Trafford beer snakes etc., as was the case Day One.
I also ran into Mike Redfern and a bunch of his mates from the Red Bat Cricket Collective. I noticed the Red Bat shirts walking past us and stopped the guys, asking them if they were by any chance still in touch with Mike. “We sure are – he’s sitting over there with us”, was the reply. Really nice to see him again.
Of course we went home at the end of Day Two (driving off into the sunset straight from the ground), but the test remained weird after we left Manchester, with a streaker incident the next day. Strangely, that incident was recently (at the time of writing, December 2015) reminisced about on King Cricket – here.
For the actual cricket, here’s the scorecard.