Many years ago I used to regularly go to the County Ground at Hove and watch Sussex Cricket Club play. I was a member. Those were the days. John Snow and Imran Khan (now Pakistan Prime Minister) were the bowlers. I cannot remember who the batsmen were. I used to watch the greats like Vivien Richards, Ian Botham, Tony Greig and so many others play.
I hadn't been to a county 5 day game in years. Well, so long that they are now apparently 4 day games. I have been to a few one day games in various formats and even recall being at Lords to see Sussex beat Lancashire in a one day final but not to a county match over a number of days.
Lords is not far away and Sussex have been playing well recently. I saw them win on the tv in a one day game away at Durham to qualify for the finals day at Edgbaston in the Vitality T20 series and decided to go along. I missed the first day due to other commitments but the game was finally balanced at the end of the first day.
I am a season ticket holder at Queens Park Rangers and am used, as a football supporter, to being treated like a second class citizen. How refreshing it was to go to a cricket match. I could order alcohol and drink it watching the game. What is that about? Oh and there was no segregation of supporters. Behind me were a group of friends drinking their beer - some were Middlesex supporters and some were Sussex supporters. All very civilised.
For my foreign friends who are reading this and do not understand cricket, it is not that difficult to understand. There are two teams and they have two innings (turns at batting).
Each bowler bowls the ball (throws it) for an over. An over is 6 throws of the ball. At the end of the over, another bowler has 6 throws of the ball, and bowls from the other end. The bowler throws the ball towards the wicket - three wooden stumps (sticks) with bails on them. The bails are bits of wood that rest on the stumps. The bowler tries to hit the stumps. If he does it, the batsman is out. Each batsman has one innings (turn at batting). There are eleven players in each team. You need to have two batsmen as a minimum so when 10 men are out, the whole team is out. Bowlers get batsmen out by hitting the stumps, getting the batsman to hit the ball or getting one of the fielders (the players not in the team batting) to catch the ball before it hits the ground. Another way of getting a batsman out is lbw - leg before wicket. Basically the batsman gets in the way of the wicket and stops the ball hitting the stumps. There is a rope boundary. Hit the ball on the ground as far as the boundary and the batsman scores 4 runs. Hit the ball over the boundary without touching the ground and the batsman scores 6 runs. Hit the ball and run between the two wickets (sets of wooden stumps) and the batsman scores one run for each time that he runs between them. There is an area where the batsman stands (the crease). If a fielder hits the stumps with the ball when the batsman is not behind the crease, the batsman is out.
It is all very simple. Each side has two turns at bowling and batting and the game is supposed to last up to 4 days. The weather can affect the game. You cannot bowl in the rain. And sometimes the game is over without both teams having their two innings because of the weather.
The winning team is the one with the most runs who gets the other team bowled out for the two innings. Sometimes the game is over within the 4 days. Other times 4 days is not enough for a team to be bowled out twice. So you can get a game that lasts 4 days and there is no result. Cricket is a lot more complicated than that and is affected by things like spin, the condition of the ground, and the condition of the ball. Some bowlers bowl (throw the ball) fast. Others throw it slowly and make the ball spin. There is a special way of throwing the ball (a delivery) but I am trying to keep this as simple as possible.
Lords the ground where the match was played prides itself on being The Home of Cricket. It is where cricket was first played. There is a Members area at Lords - the Pavilion area. Only Members can go there. They wear jackets and ties. Very difficult to become a Member. I walked past the Members area. Lots of white elderly faces and lots of posh accents. Not the most multicultural of areas. In fact county cricket does not seem to be anything other than a sport for middle class and upper class (mainly upper class) white supporters. I am sure that there were a few working class supporters in the ground, but they did not stand out. I checked my photos. I saw mainly white men. A few non English people were in the ground but they provided the security at the entrances, served refreshments, or were in the teams playing on the pitch. With VERY few exceptions they were NOT spectators!
Lords is most definitely a bastion of privilege and attending a cricket match there was like going back over a century. St John's Wood (the area where the ground is located) is a million miles from the London where I live! And the Eton educated cricket commentator Henry Blofeld is leaving Chelsea for Spain because he thinks London is "horribly violent". These people do not know what the real world is like!