Sports Magazine

No Alcohol Allowed

By Stuartnoel @theballisround

Spot the missing part in this statement..

A hot summer’s night spent watching the most traditional English game with a sumptuous picnic”

ALCOHOL…Wine, Pimms, Magners, Gin & Tonic….BEER! Here we were in the Garden of England, the home of the Shepherd Neame brewery amongst other beer makers, just down the road from Barkham Manor where some of the finest English wine is produced and we couldn’t get a drink for love or money.

This is one of the problems with cricket these days.  Or more specifically the Twenty20 version of the game.  And if the counties are not careful the huge bubble of interest in the game will go pop.

Let’s start with the facts.  £70 for a family of four is pricey to start with.  Counties want to bring more youngsters into the games but the pricing structure is still not right.  Look at the facts:-

Twenty20 game – 40 overs in total – £22 for adults, £8 for children
Clydesdale 40 – 80 overs in total – £20 for adults, £8 for children
LV Championship – 90+ overs – £15 for adults, £8 for children

There are discounts for buying in advance but the maths here is that the longer games are the cheapest ones?  Is there some economic logic in there? Possibly. And kids tickets are the same price irrespective of the game?

No alcohol allowed
So we arrived, paid our £10 for parking and then had to take out the couple of bottles of beer we had packed in the picnic bag.  I asked why you could not take alcohol in to a steward. “Because there is beer on sale inside” came the answer.   Of course.

This was Kent’s first game in this season’s Twenty20 competition, and they were taking on last season’s losing finalists Somerset.  Nothing like an easy start then.  And this was the the peak of Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week, so the crowds had flocked to the Nevill Ground which ranks high up in my top ten for the best cricket grounds in England.  Best in terms of location and setting for sure, but not in terms of facilities for the fans that is for sure.

No alcohol allowed

A £22 view

Sorry, but as a paying fan you simply cannot get value for money from a venue that was stretched to over capacity in terms of facilities and where the views from anywhere apart from the “official” seating areas (an extra £5 to sit here) or in the front row of the school hall seats around the boundary.  If you were in any other row then your view was basically of people’s heads in front.

5.30pm came around and the teams emerged to do one of those silly “friendship” lines that we now see in Football.  Another pointless gimmick. And still people piled into the ground.  They had set up two bars on either side of the ground, facing away from the action, meaning you couldn’t even really see the game whilst you queued.  And queued some more.  In fact I eventually got back to my seat after nearly fifteen minutes.  By which time Kent had almost thrown away the game.

Kent 163-8 lost to Somerset 166-1 by 9 wickets – Nevill Ground – Friday 3rd June 2011
Kent won the toss and elected to bat.  With a decent upper order they would have hoped to post a score of 180 plus on a pitch that had shown itself to be a batting track most of the week.  That confidence had evaporated by the time I returned from the bar with Denly, Coles and van Jaarsveld back in the pavilion with just 32 on the board.  Fear not because Robert Key was still at the crease, and with Stevens at the other end Kent started to build a decent score.  The bumper crowd forget all about the lack of alcohol as put on 80 runs in double quick time including five sixes before Key was bowled by Kartik for 43.

No alcohol allowed
It was left to Stevens to try and accelerate the scoring.  He was running out of partners though, losing Mahmood and Jones cheaply before he was eventually bowled for 68 off just 41 balls.

One hundred and sixty three was never going to be an issue if Somerset could start strongly.  And that is exactly what they did.  They lost Trego cheaply with the score at 16 but from that point onwards they never looked back, scoring at 9, 10 and then 11 an over as Marcus Trescothick and van der Merwe battered the Kent attack.  Tredwell went for over twenty in one over, with van der Merwe hitting him down the ground for three consecutive sixes.  In total he hit 54 in boundaries out of his unbeaten 89 and never looked in trouble.

In the end Somerset reached the target with three overs still left.  They could have carried on past the two hundred mark with ease and they showed exactly why they are one of the favourites again this year.

A final message to the powers that be.  Men + cricket = beer.  So put more bars on and then you will get more money in that bulging bank account from charging an arm and a leg to watch the game.

More pictures from the thrashing can be found here.

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