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.

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:

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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 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.

 

 

Long To Rain Over Us – Heavy Rollers Edgbaston Trip 2012 – Nigel Hinks’s Take, 6 to 8 June 2012

Nigel in full flow
Nigel in full flow, the following season, at Chester-le- Street

I am very grateful to Nigel for this wonderful, redolent submission in response to my piece, Long To Rain Over Us, about our most heavily rain-affected Edgbaston trip of all.

“The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened’ by Don Robertson is an evocative journey back to the early 1950s. Readers are introduced to a teenage Morris Bird III, considered by some to be one of the most endearing characters in contemporary American literature.

Our Edgbaston trip in 2012 was so lacking in memory that it is now, well, not memorable. Very little that was meant to take place actually did so.

It was as if we had been enticed to this sodden part of the UK to be teased with the promise of things that almost happened. Morris Bird may well have speculated?

Perhaps we were being tested on our resolve as real Heavy Rollers. Could we cut it when things were bad?

I recall my solitary mission to the nearby cricket ground in advance of the others. They were perhaps still somewhere on the M6 arguing about the relative merits of Delta and Detroit Blues genres, while a dozing Nick yearned for some early Metallica.

Knowing Charles’ detailed preparations before any pre match knockabout, the ‘cricket kit’ would have been checked (several times before being unpacked and repacked) in readiness for our long-awaited net. This was scheduled to take place at Harborne CC. To grace this attractive little ground, in leafy suburban Birmingham, was to be a privilege indeed. All a direct consequence of some emotional story- telling from Charles to some unaware individual who was to forever regret their selfless move to the ‘phone with, “I’ll get it”. Charles had become a master of spin. This had little to do with his ability to pick a ‘Doosra’.  Detailed and distressing tales would be discharged to whomever got the job of dealing with random emotive requests, mostly for tickets. Much was at stake this time. A chance to display limited abilities for a donation. It would be a wonderful prelude to the main course.

The scene, however, was a precursor to the forthcoming event. The said ground was deserted. The outfield resembled a small lake. If anything had been planned for this evening it had long been called off. Phone calls from office to office relaying the unhappy, but inevitable, news. I couldn’t avoid observing that the early season volunteers, allocated to small working groups tendering the ground, had failed miserably to:

  1. Clean around the area you want to repair with a wire brush to remove loose paint or rust.
  2. Use an old screwdriver to dig out any old jointing material.
  3. Put the nozzle of the sealant gun into the joint, and run a bead of roof and gutter sealant around the pipe.

One side of the pavilion’s guttering resembled a waterfall. Safe to say the kit wouldn’t be making an appearance this year.

I returned to Harborne Hall with heavy heart, but gratified by the familiarity of our accommodation, and its proximity to some decent restaurants on Harborne High Street for later. High quality Chinese food surely? At least we would be reunited and sustained by our past recollections of basic, but friendly, home-from-home accommodation. It was soon to be revealed that this just was a futile memory, unless your home was a Category C prison.

The corridors still echoed with the long past anticipation and apprehension of eager volunteers, about to make their way to various VSO outposts around the world. The evocative black and white photographs of some wiry young men with mullets, and women in cheesecloth skirts, dancing self-consciously with grateful African children, or in makeshift classrooms, adorned the stairways to our rooms. Such warm recollections were soon to be illusions, as the march of commercialism that had begun to engulf this little haven took shape. It was becoming transformed into something neither here, nor anywhere really. VSO were still present somehow, but surrounded by an impression of a low budget boarding house with an identity crisis.

The futile negotiations over extra breakfast toast rather summed up the whole affair. Jokes about when parole became due and “are you in Block H?” were tinged with reality. As Ian has described, we didn’t see any cricket either. Given that was the whole purpose it could be argued things were not going too well.

I recall walking back from the equally uninviting and playless Edgbaston in time for a planned tour of the local graveyard. This was advertised on a display outside the adjacent church amidst notices, it transpired, unchanged for many a decade. I should have twigged on reading the one with rusty drawing pins, congratulating the Mother’s Union for raising £7 19s 11d for Church upkeep. My children have often reiterated their displeasure when on holiday, mostly in France, when I would enthusiastically jump from the car and excitedly head off (alone) towards a remote cemetery or graveyard. This would make up a little for earlier non-events.

Wet through from my walk back, I just made the appointed time only to be met with a resounding silence, where I imagined the throng would now be congregating.

Just me then. The church was securely locked and, without a guide, any chance of an educational tour of the graves was out of the question. So, given I was staying one further night, I returned to the honesty bar at Harborne Hall before lock down and lights out. I left rather early the next morning, not stopping for toast.

This was to be the final ‘non-event’ of the 2012 gathering, so dominated by things that almost happened….

 

Long To Rain Over Us, England v West Indies, Edgbaston, Days One and Two, 7 & 8 June 2012

It rained.

Photo, thanks to Charles Bartlett, probably unconnected...unless Chas was building an ark and starting to populate it during this trip
Photo, thanks to Charles Bartlett, probably unconnected…unless Chas was building an ark and starting to populate it during this trip

There shouldn’t be much else to say.

It rained for the entirety of our visit.

When I started typing the headline of this piece, I typed “Wet Indies” rather than “West Indies” by mistake. Or was it a mistake? Spooky.

To add to the disappointment of this visit, Charles “Charley The Gent Malloy” Bartlett had, as usual, organised a blinder of a visit, including our front row seats in the Raglan Stand and nets early in the evening on the day before the test, at Harborne CC, just up the road from our residence at Harborne Hall.

We had a roadworks/lane closure filled journey up to Birmingham. Chas had kindly offered to give me a lift from the outer reaches of the Central Line (Redbridge? Gants Hill?), so the three of us (including Nick) had plenty of time to bicker about music choices in the car.

If I recall correctly, Chas and I were both on a bit of an electric blues odyssey at that time, so (two to one) we mostly settled on Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters for that journey. In any case, I’m listening to my playlist of those artistes to tweak my memory as I write.

We crawled through Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire in glorious sunshine, secure in the knowledge that we had allowed plenty of time to get to our net; we thought that we were merely losing “decompress” time between the journey and the net. Not quite Kim’s levels of ludicrously OCD “plenty of time” – see this write up in recent memory at the time of writing – but still plenty of time.

However, once we were on the M6 scooting through the West Midlands getting close to Birmingham, we saw some dark sky ahead. rather a lot of it. Rain clouds. Wet rain. Very wet rain. We arrived at Harborne Hall in what could only be described as a tropical-style storm. That storm passed pretty soon after we arrived, but we more or less knew that the soaking was bound to have put our nets at risk. We went down to Harborne CC in hope more than expectation, only to have our fears confirmed. Pools on the outfield and around the nets. No chance of a net.

We’d seen the gloomy weather forecast for the first two days of the test, of course, but still we hoped for a further 36 hours.

I remember little about our two evenings in Harborne that year. I think we went to Harborne’s very satisfactory Chinese restaurant, Henry Wong, one of the evenings, I think that first night. Perhaps the others can remember where else we went.

I remember a lot of sitting around at Harborne Hall. I remember the other three deciding to go down to the ground, despite the pouring rain and no sign of respite. I remember staying back, making some notes about Heavy Rollers visits from years gone by, which are now proving to be a most useful starting point for this blogging.

I also remember how much Harborne Hall had declined since our last visit. Not down to Beechwood Hotel levels – those depths would take some plumbing – but still decline. Harborne Hall had been the VSO conference centre, run along similar lines to The Children’s Society’s Wadderton. But it seemed that VSO had sold (or at least put under management and attempted to commercialise) Harborne Hall. The resulting approach had subtracted almost all of the friendly, folksy character of the place, leaving only the distressed gentility and a rather grasping approach to commercialism.

The nadir for our visit was on the final morning, when Nigel made the mistake of asking for an additional slice of toast with his breakfast and was informed that he would be charged extra for that extra slice. Did I see steam starting to come from Nigel’s ears? I don’t remember exactly how this matter was resolved. Nigel probably does recall.

The other occupants of Harborne Hall were now mostly peripatetic tradesmen. We played some pool and I think darts with some of them, at least one of the evenings, during that stay. We more or less held our own. Perhaps they were more inebriated or had failed to mis-spend their youths playing those games any more than we had.

I also don’t remember when we bailed out of this hopeless situation. I don’t think we stuck around too deep into the second day. I don’t even remember whether Chas gave me a lift back to the Essex borders or whether I stuck with my original plan to take the train home after the game.

It was the first time that the first two days of a test match had been entirely rained off in England since 1964. Not even the modern drainage could save play from that type of relentless rain. This telegraph piece has a lovely photo.

Despite the fact that we saw precisely nothing of this match live, it still counts as one of our Heavy Rollers matches in my view, so here is the scorecard. No surprises that the match was a draw, but there was a surprising stand between Dinesh Ramdin and Tino “mind the windows” Best who put on nearly 150 for the last wicket, Tino managing a batting-career-defining 95 of them.

Crickey, I have generated some 900 words, merely to elaborate on the main point, which I managed to get across in the first two words.

It rained.

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

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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.

 

Middlesex CCC Season Is Up And Running, MTWD Piece, Middlesex v Glamorgan Day One at Lord’s, 22 April 2009

My article on MTWD tells the tale of the day – the first day of the county championship season for Middlesex.

MIDDLESEX CCC SEASON IS UP AND RUNNING – click here.

You get Charley The Gent and a passing mention of Nigel “Father Barry” White (just named Barry in this piece), together with both of the lads’ wives with pseudonyms long since forgotten.

Just in case anything ever happens to MTWD, I have scraped the piece to Ogblog – only click the link below if the link above doesn’t work:

Middlesex till we die – MIDDLESEX CCC SEASON IS UP AND RUNNING

If you want to know what happened in the match, click here for the scorecard.

You can have various takes on a day of cricket. King Cricket, who takes a particular interest in rotund cricketers, wrote up the same day thus – click here.

Even more strangely, it seems that King Cricket published, that very same day, a short piece about Hippity and his cricket ball – click here.

Just in case anything ever happens to King Cricket, I have scraped the piece to Ogblog – only click the link below if the link above doesn’t work:

A cricket ball in an unusual place

Stranger still, King Cricket published an abridged version of the MTWD piece at a (by King Cricket standards) lightening pace – i.e. within a calendar month – click here for King Cricket’s Middlesex v Glamorgan match report.

Just in case anything ever happens to King Cricket, I have scraped the piece to Ogblog – only click the link below if the link above doesn’t work:

Middlesex v Glamorgan match report

 

Dartmouth With the Worms, 17 to 20 April 2009

It seemed like a lovely idea for Janie, her sisters and the husbands/significant other to gather for a long weekend somewhere nice. We settled on The Dart Marina in Dartmouth. Very nice.

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We gathered on the Friday as the afternoon went on. I think Janie and I got there first, obviously, as we had by far the furthest to travel. We all agreed/decided that the pub adjoining (part of, really) the hotel would be our best bet that first night. It was old-fashioned fish and chips type food, done very well.

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On the Saturday, Phillie, Tony, Hils and Chris had planned a pootle around town while Janie and I went off to meet our friends Nigel and Viv (who then lived in Totnes) for lunch – more pub grub.

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This time we took it easy a bit, though, as we knew we had a big meal planned for the evening in the hotel’s posh restaurant:

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If it looks as though we spent most of the weekend eating and drinking…well you’re not entirely wrong. But that was about to change.

The Sunday plan was for Phillie and Tony to do a bit of gentle shopping while Chris, Hils, me and Janie did a proper walk. Chris and I planned the walk and off we set up the hill. Hils (no aptronym here) started protesting vigorously that we must be going the wrong way as we were walking far too much up hill. Now despite my spatial and directional challenges, I am quite good at plotting routes on maps. Moreover, Chris works for Ordnance Survey and is a specialist map guy.

In short, I think we were going in precisely the right direction, while Hils was barking up the wrong tree.

Still, once we explained the plan to her, which included descending to a lovely sounding village with a pub, she calmed down and cheered up.

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By the time we got to the pub, Hils was a convert to this walking thing and has undertaken many walking holidays since. Must be to do with the pubs…I mean the exercise.

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In the above photo, I’m sporting a West Indies ground staff tee-shirt from Nigel and Viv’s recent sortie to the Caribbean (was it Antigua or Barbados, I forget?) with Charlie and Dot. When I sported the tee-short again in front of Charlie later that summer, it had the desired effect (intense and voluble envy).

That evening we ate in the third of the Dart Marina’s restaurants – the bistro -style one, which we decided was possibly the nicest of the three for our purposes, not least because the weather smiled on us enough to enable us to eat outside under the patio heaters. There was some debate about meal timing and whether or not Chris and I could choose the wines we wanted to pay for rather than the house wine that Hils insists is always adequate. The photographic evidence (below) suggests that, for once, Hils didn’t get her way:

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There are other photographs from that trip – click here for the Flickr set, but in truth they are for completists/connoisseurs – the ones that tell the tale are included in this posting.

Heavy Rollers In Edgbaston and Stirchley, Primarily For England v South Africa Days Two and Three, 30 July to 1 August 2008

We have Charles Bartlett to thank for the most wonderful relic from this trip: a superb stack of pictures – 80 of them – click here to see them all. I’ll pepper this piece with just a few.

30 July 2008

This was one of those rare occasions that the test started on a Wednesday and so we actually travelled up on the first day and watched days 2 and 3.

Thus we gathered for pre match cricket in David Steed’s local park in Stirchley.

Adam was not impressed with his batting performance

Never mind Adam’s body language above, that muck-about game on David’s local green went well for Adam and did not go at all well for me, as evidenced by this page of my jotter.

2006 Muck About Cricket

Nigel “Father Barry” White (and son) did well, as did a local lad, Craig, who wandered along and asked if he could play with us.

Harish (Harsha Ghoble) also had a good go, although I do recall bowling him on one occasion with one of my moon balls which descended vertically onto the stumps. “How are you supposed to play a ball like that?”, complained Harish. Nigel then dispatched my next, similar ball for six. “Like that”, said Nigel.

I also recall lots of bites on my legs afterwards. Yet I was (uniquely amongst those in the following photo) wearing long trousers.

As darkness fell…

…then on to David and Anita’s place for a super barby:

Super barby at Steed Towers

31 July 2008

Chas and perhaps some of the others must have gone for a good walk the next morning, in the grounds around Harbourne House…

Signs of some walking around Harbourne House…

…while Harish and I, great athletes both, exerted ourselves with some morning sports activity:

For those looking in black and white, Ian’s the one dressed in red…
Some signs of mis-spent youth there; not least Ian’s ability to play a little better after a couple of bevvies.
Then the annual Heavy Roller shirt ceremony…
…for some reason Chas got a unique, pink one. As I’m the Middlesex supporter among us, “it should have been me”…
…then off we go to Edgbaston.
All action it was. Could this have been the year that someone started a row with Nigel 20 minutes before the start of play asking him to sit down?

We had the honour of witnessing “that” over from Flintoff to Kallis:

The crowd was just a little bit involved.

We’re all standing now (apart from Hippity and Monkey-Face)!
I think we went to Zizzis that night – correct me if I’m wrong, folks

1 August 2008

We did it all again! But Chas didn’t take pictures that day.

Want to know what happened in the cricket? – here is the scorecard – yes, click here.

I made my own way home by train, as oft I do. Unusually, though, Nigel and Chas stayed on an extra day, having decided to brave the Eric Hollies Stand.

Aftermath – Chas and Nigel in the Eric Hollies

There are plenty of pictures in that photo album, but I’d really like one or both of the lads to write a short side piece describing their very different day “on the other side”…

…the dark side…
…with brigades of Amy Winehouses…
…and extra police protection. Had the fuzz been tipped off that Chas and Nige were coming?

Do tell, fellas.

Postscript: Nigel wrote up the Eric Hollies experience for King Cricket. King Cricket published the piece 8 November 2017 – here.

Indeed, other memories from any of us much appreciated, in the comments section or by e-mail ahead of a post script.

England v West Indies, Day One and Day Two, Old Trafford Test, June 7 & 8, 2007

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.