The promise of an English summer is always one to warm the cockles during a frosty winter. You might be planning to attend to your first ever game or you might be planning to take up your usual seat to cheer on your County or country in 2018. Whatever the case, it’s always a time to look back on your favourite cricketing moments, so I thought I’d share mine.
I spent my university days at Birmingham, so Edgbaston cricket club is one close to my heart. I saw my first ever game there, as England bowled themselves to victory against the West Indies in 2004, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.
I’ve been lucky enough to attend games around the world, but those home comforts are hard to beat. There are few finer places to cheer England on than from the Eric Hollies stand, too.
I was lucky enough to be invited, along with a friend, to take in Day 3 of the 2011 England Vs. India Test from the hospitality seats at Edgbaston. Great views, great weather (perhaps somewhat unusually for Birmingham!) and great cricket. Alastair Cook was dismissed for 294, Eoin Morgan also registered a century, as England stamped their authority on a series they would go on to win comfortably.
Perhaps my favourite Edgbaston moment – and my favourite day at the cricket – was the third Ashes Test in 2015. I was up there with a load of friends for a friend’s stag do and the cricket on the Friday was front and centre of the entire weekend.
It was an unusual game, however. The drive up on the Thursday afternoon was a nervy one, for there was a very real possibility that England would seal a thumping victory inside two days. As we inched towards Birmingham the clatter of wickets was coming through loud and clear on Long Wave.
I’ve never been so disappointed to see Dave Warner get out. We were desperate for a third day! Messages were being exchanged with plans for alternative activities on the Friday. Australia were collapsing.
Thankfully, they made it to stumps with three wickets in hand, so we were at least going to see some cricket. There was a strange atmosphere around the ground, though, since there was a lot of English support for Australia in the morning, with the crowd keen to see something of a game. There was also an element of cat and mouse; England had Australia well and truly cornered and could play with their prey.
Australia managed to add another 97 runs to their total, with 50s from Peter Nevill and Mitchell Starc. The scene was set and England needed 121 runs to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Of course, England knocked off the runs, but it was special for two reasons, since it was the last time I would see two brilliant players in action. Mitchell Johnson, Pommie destroyer in chief in 2013/14, charged in and gave it everything, receiving intense cat calling from the crowd as he did so. The sense of theatre around him was astonishing, with his every move cheered or derided.
It was, however, the last time I would see Ian Bell bat in an England shirt. Ian Bell, my favourite England player; my favourite cricketer. He didn’t disappoint, with a fluent 65* that reminded everyone of what an aesthetic delight this man was in his pomp. There have been few better to ever watch in full flow, and it was wonderful to see him lead England home to an emphatic eight wicket victory. It was a fitting way to sign off watching him in action, even if I didn’t know it at the time.
It was the perfect conclusion to a perfect day. What’s your favourite cricket memory? Hopefully you can make some more this summer!
By Miles Reucroft