On Friday 5th July my husband decided to take us to watch an evening’s cricket, Middlesex v Surrey, at the Oval.
Twenty20 is a fairly new version of the game – faster than a test match and comprising 20 overs a side with a total duration of around three hours. This makes it appeal to an audience who want to watch cricket in one short burst – in this case, on a pleasant summer evening.
Did I say ‘watch’? There’s the rub, as our friends of the theatre would say. Twenty20, as we quickly discovered, was designed on Friday nights for those who 1/ have no interest in watching the game, despite having paid for a ticket and 2/ drinking as much as possible in as short a time as possible.
So we were not only frustrated by not being able to properly watch the game because of people standing up blocking our view, being more interested in people making snakes of their plastic glasses and/or doing Mexican waves, but also, by the time it came to the last over, feeling as if we were in the middle of a rugby scrum at the pub where people were actually throwing full glasses of beer around.
At which point we left.
My husband, being a long-time cricket fan and visitor to the Oval for over thirty years, was understandably miffed at not being able to enjoy an evening of the game he loves, and wrote to the powers-that-be at Surrey to request, politely, that they consider assigning an area of the ground (as they do at Twickenham international sevens rugby) where you can watch the cricket if you wish and drink sociably without getting totally legless. He pointed out that he has never left a cricket game early before, and that both he and I felt uncomfortable with the drunks who probably couldn’t tell the difference between a bowler and a batsman.
The Oval has not even had the courtesy to reply. And sadly, we will not be supporting them again by going to a Twenty20 match.