Day/Night Test Match, England v West Indies, Edgbaston, 17 to 19 August 2017

After a super meal at Colbeh – reported here – and a good night’s sleep at the Eaton Hotel, Daisy and I would have been fit and ready to walk to Edgbaston for an 11:00 start…

…but this was a day/night test match, so instead I arranged to have a music lesson with Ian Pittaway in Stourbridge. It bucketed down with rain on the way to Stourbridge, which made me wonder whether Edgbaston would be fit for cricket by 14:00, but I needn’t have worried. Day/Night One of the match turned out to be a very sunny although slightly chilly affair.

Daisy and I walked to the ground in dry, improving weather. Security was tight but well organised this year, so we joined the others at about 13:40. The others were Charley The Gent Malloy, The Boy Malloy, Nigel “Father Barry” White and Harsha Goble.

Mrs Malloy had made a splendid picnic for us all, consisting mostly of an extremely plentiful supply of big bap sandwiches. Chas went into major-domo mode, insisting that we tuck in at regular intervals, saying:

“I cannot report back to Dot that any of these sandwiches remained uneaten.”

At the end of Day One I sent some thoughts about our day/night experience to King Cricket, who published my thoughts along with those of others –  click here.

Daisy took loads of pictures, which you can see on Flickr – click here – a sample of which are shown below.

 

A shot from the first session
Things seemed to be going England’s way
Lunch at four in the afternoon? Getaway!
Shadows lengthen on the Eric Hollies Stand opposite

After the instruction “Nessun Dorma” (reported on King Cricket), Daisy stayed awake to take the following lovely shot after sunset:

Stunning, although it looks a bit René Magritte

The weather forecast for Day Two was not so special – indeed it was obvious that the weather would close in sometime between 19:00 and 20:00 and there would then be no further play that day.

Daisy, Nigel and I went over to Chas and Nick’s hotel on that Day two morning, hatching a plan that we should eat relatively light at the ground that day with a view to eating a good meal together in Colbeh to make up for the session of cricket that we looked likely to lose. If the weather by chance relented, we could always stay at the ground and eat from the selection of increasingly interesting and decent food outlets at Edgbaston these days.

Daisy captures the look of the pink ball on the big screen

Harsha had, unfortunately, needed to return to London for a funeral on the Friday, but was expecting to arrive back at Edgbaston around 19:00.

The rain arrived as expected around 19:30. We had redirected Harsha towards the “dining at Colbeh rather than watching the rain come down” plan.

Much better than sitting at Edgbaston watching the rain

Once again, Colbeh was excellent.

In truth, it was great to have the opportunity to have a meal together and “chew the fat” after the cricket – this aspect (which would normally be absent for a day/night match) is the biggest down side to such match timing…the colder evenings being less of an issue, although…

…Day Three did turn out to be a chilly day.

Daisy and I walked to the ground all three days; Day Three being the most pleasant walking conditions of the three – sunny but a tad cooler than Day One.

We saw an interesting sight on the way to the ground:

An Ethiopian Orthodox Service at St Georges Church on a Saturday
It looked half service, half church fete.
Dawid Malan fielding right in front of us…I don’t think he spotted me!
There was some freezing cold business with lads behind us clearly not dressed for the occasion and divesting themselves of what little clothing they had
Members of the Mexican community behind the Eric Hollies Stand looked more suitably dressed for a chilly day/night match…
…members of the Flintstone community behind the Eric Hollies Stand less so.

England were all over the West indies like a rash on Day Three. Here is the Cricinfo summary of the  match.

The others bailed out before the end of the match, as Chas, Nick and Harish were travelling home that night and Nigel wanted a lift back to the hotel.

We’d all had a good time – three days had just flown by.

Daisy and I stuck it out until the last ball – the first time I had ever seen a whole first class match, let alone a test:

Close to the last moments of the game

Gosh it was cold by the end; we thought about bailing out a couple of times, but then a wicket would fall. We walked back to the Eaton Hotel that night to warm ourselves up, which worked rather well.

A very one-sided match but also a very enjoyable few days.

A Visit To Edgbaston, Mostly For Warwickshire v Middlesex, 3 to 5 July 2017

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…

Step never on the cracks, No only on the squares, Or else we’d be abducted by the bears.

…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.

Here is how the match panned out in the end – Thursday – click here.

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.

Dumbo behaving well at Boston Manor, in the good old days when the car park was open

A Visit To Edgbaston, primarily for Warwickshire v Middlesex, 31 August to 2 September 2016

I am taking the opportunity this late season to see quite a few days of county championship cricket away from home.

This little trip to Edgbaston was a shorter reprise of the trip I undertook last year for this fixture, immortalised in my King Cricket write up: The Sound And The Fury.

No business visits this time and only Days One and Two for cricket.

Again the excellent Eaton Hotel, but not before driving straight to the ground on the Wednesday morning, after a good early morning workout at the gym.

There’s a regular core of people in the Committee Room at Edgbaston, so it felt a bit like a regathering of the clan. A very pleasant clan too.

Glorious weather for both days. No walking for me on Day One, but Day Two I walked to and from the ground, including the small detour on the way home to see the current state of the “hell-hole” hotel (vintage 2006), which I reported on separately – here.

At the end of Day One we thought that Warwickshire were on top; just. At the end of Day Two, Middlesex seemed to be bossing the game. In the end, as has been so often the case this season, the weather determined the match, on the Saturday.  Scorecard here.

Two overnights, affording time for reading, writing and ukulele playing. I took Luke the Baroq-ulele (of Thomas Gresham Society Soiree fame) this time.

I left Edgbaston just after 10:00 on the Friday, once my early afternoon meeting in London had been confirmed; otherwise I might have been able to enjoy the first two or three hours of play that day also. On the Friday evening, after a relatively frantic (albeit short) day’s work, I got my exercise playing real tennis.

In Search of a Lost Hell Hole, Edgbaston, 1 September 2016

Beechwood Hotel Latterly Renamed But Seemingly neither Refurbished nor Reopened
Beechwood Hotel Latterly Renamed but Seemingly neither Refurbished nor Reopened

I returned to Edgbaston on 31 August for the Warwickshire v Middlesex county match, quite soon after our 2016 Heavy Rollers test match visit earlier in the month – reported here.

On that visit, we reminisced about the worst place we had ever stayed for our Heavy Rollers trips, the Beechwood Hotel on the Bristol Road in 2006 – which I wrote up and Ogblogged here – well worth a read if you want a laugh.  

When reminiscing on that subject recently along the Bristol Road, Nigel identified a dilapidated, disused looking place, The Lakeside Hotel, as the likely location. I said no, because the name did not ring any bells with me. But since my research for the above piece on The Beechwood Hotel, I realised that Nigel was right, that’s the address, so it is the same place, renamed.

So, after stumps on 1 September I took a slight detour along the Bristol Road on my way back to the charms and delights of The Eaton Hotel.

I discovered the place, hiding behind the untamed greenery of its garden:

IMG_0224

Trust me, dear reader, I have put the above picture through the photo software’s “fix it” filters twice to brighten up the picture.

Why the name “Lakeside” I cannot imagine; there was no lake anywhere near, other than the hootch lake the “manager” chap was presumably dipping into regularly. As for the expansive leisure activities promise on the sign on the right-hand side…oh dear.

Sadly, although I managed to uncover hilarious on-line reviews of The Beechwood online, such as…

“hell-hole”

and

“DO NOT GO THERE, you’d be better off in a cardboard box”…

…again return to the feature on that place if you want to see more of that…the Lakeside fails to come up with anything other than name and address listings on searches. I don’t suppose it got any business other than the “half-way house” type residents we met in 2006.

My trusty iPhone (Ivan) found me a delightful walking route back to the Eaton Hotel, walking further up Sir Harry’s Road on the other side of the Priory Club from our regular route; just subtly different from (though similarly lovely to) our regular walk. It occurred to me that the route might even be the tiniest bit quicker when heading for the Pershore Road entrance to the Ground, as we do. So my stroll might have some benefits for the future, as well as being a stroll down one of memory lane’s hell-holes.

The Sound and The Fury, Four Versions of One Trip To Edgbaston, 26 August 2016

king-cricket-logo copyClick here to read my four-part literary report on a visit to Birmingham/Edgbaston in September 2015; The Sound and the Fury, as published on King Cricket.

For some reason, during 2015, I felt motivated mostly to have my artifacts report cricket matches for King Cricket. It started with the idea of Dumbo the Suzuki Jimny reporting on his first cricket match, in Dublin, May 2015 and grew from there.

By the end of the season, Ivan Meagreheart, my smart phone, was also an occasional reporter.

Ivan The Smart Phone Reporting
Ivan The Smart Phone Reporting

For my visit to Birmingham to see best part of three days of the Warwickshire v Middlesex match at Edgbaston (early September 2015) and to get some business visits in to boot, I decided to go for short versions of the same story told from four different perspectives, starting with Benjy the Baritone Ukulele and ending with Ged himself.

The result is this short literary “masterpiece” which I thought King Cricket might choose to serialise but instead he (probably wisely) chose to publish the whole piece as a a magnum opus just ahead of the bank holiday – here.

The Heavy Rollers, Edgbaston, England v Pakistan Days One to Three, 3 to 5 August 2016

Warming up before the start, 3 August
Warming up before the start, 3 August

It’s a little difficult to explain why this outing worked so well this year, but it was indeed a most enjoyable success.

In the run up to the match, I had a sense of foreboding about the trip, in particular when Charles “Charley the Gent Malloy” Bartlett let me know that his knee was so bad he had brought his surgery forward and was unable to join me at Lord’s for day one of the first test (hence Simon “Awesome Simo” Jacobs joined me as a supersub).  Charles said then that he was “still hoping to make it” for Edgbaston.

Charles has previous in the “still hoping to make it” department – as this King Cricket report from 2011 attests.

I started to suspect that all would in fact be well when Chas wrote, 10 days or so before the event:

“I need to see how my first car drive goes on Saturday, I also need to talk to ‘Razor’ and ‘Knuckles’ both Essex members as they offered to take my tickets off me…if I didn’t recover in time – let me see how the drive goes over the weekend and how they respond to the disappointment.”

I replied:

Razor and Knuckles sound like absolutely delightful company; indeed possibly preferable to the original candidates for the roles…

A week later, it became clear that Razor and Knuckles were set to remain in their Essex lairs; Chas again:

To confirm I’ll be bringing some 1st day food up with me on Wednesday. Dot’s happy to provide some sandwiches – corn beef and mustard on soft white and egg mayonnaise on soft white. I have some other stuff (old favourites) and some (new stuff) that looks ok, too!

In fact, Dot’s first day sandwich feast also included heaps of ham on brown and cheese on brown too. We struggled…in a good way, saving most of the other less perishable delicacies (Harish and I had also brought quite a few of those) for the later days.

So, the night before the match it was just me and Nigel dining and at the hotel, as reported here. Chas and Nick “The Boy Malloy” turned up very early on the morning of the match (Nigel and I were still at breakfast). Nigel and I had planned to walk to the ground; Nick and Chas were cabbing it. Harish was a little delayed in traffic, but, still keen to walk, ambled to the ground on his own that morning.

We were all at the ground in time for the toss. Nigel was smarting a bit, in part because the walk was perhaps a bit much for his knees, in part through the indignity of having his minimally-concealed Shiraz-in-a-flask seized at the gate.

I had determined in any case to enjoy the Edgbaston cricket dry during the day again this year, making space for a glass or two in the evening.

The three days of cricket were wonderful. At the end of day one we were all unsure whether England had scored enough runs. At the end of day two we were sure they hadn’t and that Pakistan were close to total control. At the end of day three we knew that England had all-but wrested control back from Pakistan.

Here is the match scorecard.

We played our traditional sweepstake game all three days; this year, unusually, Harish swept the board, especially on one of the days. I wanted him tested for performance enhancing substances but Harish mysteriously failed to turn up for the tests.

Harish and I were keen to walk to and from the hotel each morning and evening. After that first morning, Nigel bowed out of the walk until the Friday evening. On one of our walks, I think it was Friday morning, Harish and I had a very interesting chat about music. We schemed a tabla/ukulele jam for next time but struggled to work out whether some of Harish’s favourite tabla rhythms could possibly work with western tunes, which are usually relentlessly 4/4 or occasionally 3/4 time signatures.

Harish pointed me to the work of Zakir Hussain – click here for a fine short example – on tabla. He also pointed me towards rupak taal (songs in seven beat rhythm – here is an example of one of those with Zakir Hussain again. I’m not sure about adapting western songs to these rhythms – beyond my skills anyway, but we could probably manage some haunting, simple variations on well-known tunes if I work up some broken chords with seven plucks per chord.

On the Wednesday evening, Chas and Nick didn’t feel like coming out at all. Following an extensive investigation on our way back from the ground, Harish and I settled on Mr Idly, which Harish was pretty sure was a refurbed version of the good Southern Indian place he and Nigel had enjoyed the year before. Nigel was certainly up for that, so off we all went. Excellent dosa in my opinion. The idly, which we shared as a starter, was OK but I recalled that idly is not so much to my taste as dosa.

On the Thursday evening, Nick had arranged to meet a friend in the evening but the rest of us were keen to try/return to Colbeh, which Nigel and I had enjoyed so much on the Tuesday evening. We were not disappointed.

Heavy Rollers in Colbeh 2016
With thanks to the waitress for taking the picture

I tried the slow-cooked lamb shank this time, while Nigel and Chas shared the full works of grills. Harish tried one of the vegetarian stews. Again, all the trimmings were wonderful, not least the amazing aubergine and mango sauce (not really a chutney, or at least not a sour chutney), which was new to me because, as we were proudly informed by the (other) son who looked after us this time, that sauce is his mother’s own recipe. To paraphrase Nigel’s eloquent recollection in the comments section from our previous visit, that makes it our sort of place.

On the Friday, all of us but Nigel headed home after the day’s play; in Harish’s and my case via the hotel, which had kindly offered safe custody to our vehicles, baggage and (in my case) Benjy the Baritone Ukulele. Nigel swore on the way home that he wouldn’t eat a thing that evening after three days of feasting and it seems he kept his word – Nigel’s subsequent e-mail report:

My plans for a quiet evening on Friday were ruined by Sharon and Kev’s engagement celebration in the hotel function suite, that really did feel like it was taking place in the next room. After the three day grazing, I took the unsolicited advice barely audible from a Ukulele shaped bag suggesting it wouldn’t harm that big bloke to miss a meal or two. That thing does have attitude.

In short, the whole trip was a great success. It’s a bit difficult to explain how or why spending several days with old friends doing so little can be so satisfying and relaxing, but it is. I guess the whole idea of five day cricket is hard to explain to the uninitiated. Nigel again, writing on the Sunday morning, just before the start of Day Five:

We have once again enjoyed a fascinating Test match, which only really began to be resolved during the last session. Into the fifth day and it is still compelling. It would be impossible to explain that to the Georgian Cabbie, seen to register disbelief at Charles’ response to “who won?” at the end of day one.

 

 

A Few Days in Birmingham & Then Home, Including Warwickshire v Middlesex Days 1 to 3, Edgbaston, 1 to 4 September 2015

I wrote up this trip in literary style for King Cricket. The piece was published here, on 26 August 2016.

I more or less explained it – here – on Ogblog once it was published.

The trip was simply three days in Edgbaston, staying at the Eaton Hotel (first visit there). Straight to the ground day one, walking in to short business meetings in Birmingham proper on each of days two and three before returning to London early on day four for one last business meeting of the week.

Simples. Until Benjy, Ivan, Dumbo and Ged got their teeth into it.

 

 

 

England v Australia, Third Test, Edgbaston, Days Two and Three, 30 and 31 July 2015

I explained in the preceding entry, about our travel day, that Ivan Meagreheart (my smart phone) wrote the Edgbaston Test match reports for King Cricket in 2015.

Ivan The Smart Phone Reporting
Ivan The Smart Phone Reporting

This is a link to Ivan’s Day Two match report, which was published by King Cricket on 22 June 2016.

This is a link to Ivan’s Day Three match report, which was published by King Cricket on 11 July 2016.

I couldn’t have put this stuff better myself…

…no, really…

…so I think I should simply let Ivan tell the tale.

A link to the scorecard might help demystify the material for the less well-informed reader – here.

Everybody loves a happy ending.

England v Australia, Third Test, Edgbaston, Day One, Travelling Not Watching, 29 July 2015

We didn’t attend Day One of the Edgbaston test on this occasion, as the test started on a Wednesday. We booked our traditional Heavy Rollers Thursday and Friday at Edgbaston.

With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been great to have booked Wednesday through Friday, but you can’t have everything.

Ivan The Smart Phone Reporting
Ivan Meagreheart The Smart Phone Reporting

Ivan Meagreheart, my smart phone, took up the King Cricket reporting duties for the whole of this Edgbaston adventure. In June 2016 King Cricket published Ivan’s report on our travelling day, Day One, here.

Ivan summed it up very well, I don’t think I could possibly improve on Ivan’s piece.

Ivan’s reports on Days Two and Three will no doubt go up on King Cricket in the fullness of time and will then find their way onto Ogblog.

Two Wheels On My Roller, But I Keep Rolling Along…England v India Days One and Two, Edgbaston, 10 & 11 August 2011

king-cricket-logo copy
Pretty much everything I want to say about this event, has been said at King Cricket, click the link below.

I think it is fair to say that matters did not go according to plan in 2011, especially as far as Charles “Charley The Gent Malloy” Bartlett was concerned, for reasons explained in sufficient gory detail in the King Cricket piece I wrote about our 2011 visit to the Edgbaston test – click here or below:

England v India, Edgbaston Test match report

If anything ever happens to the King Cricket website, I have scraped the piece to Ogblog and you can click and read all about it here instead…

…except, of course, you can’t read ALL about it at King Cricket, because of that site’s reporting rules…

…so here is the scorecard if you want to know how the match turned out.

Also there was the backdrop of the riots that summer, which were unfolding as we arrived and during our stay, although leafy Harborne seemed unaware of or at least untouched by them.

Naturally Nigel and I made the most of it without Chas. It would be cruel to harp on about the extent to which we were nevertheless able to enjoy ourselves despite Chas’s indisposition. In any case, I doubtless harped sufficiently when I saw Charles again a bit later that season.

It must have been especially galling for Chas as I seem to recall he had gone to a great deal of trouble that year to secure our “honorary” front row seats, book nets, book rooms, book an Indian feast…oy!

I believe that I drove up that year having booked the extra night after the second day’s play. That might have been Nobby’s only visit to Harborne Hall.

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Nobby never really acquired a taste for cricket…unlike Dumbo subsequently...but I digress.