The away fixture list has not been quite as kind to me this year as it was last year – fixtures not perfectly timed for my other commitments.
Indeed I almost let this match go, as I had booked out time for the Lord’s Test later in the week, but nearer the time I saw sense and booked the whole week off work and a couple of nights at The Eaton Hotel for this fixture – as last year.
So, on Monday morning off I set from Noddyland towards Edgbaston. I did the journey door to door in just under two hours without breaking any speed limits or records – just a low traffic journey which ought to be straightforward most times.
The hospitality and company at Edgbaston was cracking good, as usual. On this occasion, though, there were very few of us from Middlesex, probably because of the match’s proximity to/overlap with the Lord’s test.
On the second day, I was, in fact, the only Middlesex guest in the Chairman’s lounge. I explained that, as an only child, I was quite used to being the centre of attention, which I am sure put the burghers of Birmingham/Warwickshire at their ease.
But it was on the first day that, unusually, some of the Warwickshire folk came for a walking circuit with me and showed me some fascinating sights around the ground.
One of those sights was Barmy Kev and some of the Middlesex travelling band, over at the Birmingham end. This encounter was more revealing for my Warwickshire hosts than it was for me. Barmy Kev asked me to write a Day 5 match report for the MTWD web site, which might have confused my Warwickshire hosts even more than the sight of Barmy Kev.
Another interesting sight was a collection of bears, due to be exhibited the next day, presumably to promote the T20 tournament…
…or perhaps their role is to abduct a few county match attendees, e.g. those foolish enough to set foot on the cracks.
In cricket terms, the match felt utterly poised throughout my stay – two-and-a-half days. Whenever one side seemed to be nudging ahead, the other side would rally with a partnership or wickets.
To add to that sense of poise, Middlesex ended Day 2 on 302/6 exactly the same number of runs Warwickshire had scored on Day 1 (302/7). The scores were tied at the end of the first innings, quite early on Day 3. It nearly ended as a double tie – i.e. tied at the end of both the first and second innings, which I think would have been a first class cricket first, at least with completed innings.
On the Monday night I went to Stourbridge for a music lesson – long story – now Ogblogged separately – click here.
On the Tuesday night I practised my baritone ukulele and read in the hotel.
On the Wednesday I left Edgbaston at about 14:45, after a chance encounter with Chris Woakes who was having a sneak peak at the match from the tunnel. I needed to be at Lord’s for tennis at 19:00. The heavy traffic made me wonder whether I’d make it on time, but in the end I had a reasonable amount of time to get to Lord’s…
…but boy was I buttock-weary, after two-and-a-half days of cricket and three-and-a-half hours in the saddle.
At Lord’s, Dumbo was thoroughly searched (the night before a big match day) but then allowed to park in the Allen Stand gap, where he had a perfect view of the pitch. When I emerged from two hours of tennis, Dumbo threatened to stay there for the duration of the test match, but he relented when I mumbled to him about car scrappage schemes.