There is no sound in sport quite like the clunk of a cricket bat hitting the ball. Especially when it reverberates and echoes around a, sadly, mainly empty stadium. It’s one of the reasons I love cricket so much.
I remember getting into cricket. I’ve told the story a million times, but just in case you haven’t read it, I’ll recap it for you. My mum was making an IKEA bed in my bedroom and I felt lazy so crept downstairs to watch T.V. Unwilling to help, but unable to find something I liked, I settled for the only live sport to be found. England v West Indies on Channel 4. Within hours, I was hooked to the sport that seemed to do nothing and everything at the same time.
I was engrossed by the sport for the next year, culminating in my Dad getting me tickets for a day of a test at Old Trafford. The year? 2005. The match? England v Australia, first day of the third test of an already thrilling series. I sat there and watched Michael Vaughan cover drive his way to a magnificent 166 (I still struggle to recall a better innings), Ian Bell grind out a 50, insignificant in the picture of the series but huge for the young man’s confidence, and had my first taste of players such as Andrew Flintoff (even if it was just the reception when his name was announced!), Kevin Pietersen and Marcus Trescothick. I even witnessed Shane Warne’s 600th test wicket.
Over the next few years, I started to go to county matches, beginning a love affair with Lancashire County Cricket Club. Initially, I went with both my Mum and my Dad. Mum’s first cricket match was a T20 between Lancashire and Yorkshire. Lancashire won, and a young uncapped Faf du Plessis took a wicket with the first ball of the match, and then didn’t bat. He’s now South Africa’s captain and one of the most reliable batters in world cricket, who very rarely bowls. It’s funny how these things change.
In time, I started taking myself to cricket matches. Lancashire played twenty minutes down the road from me, and I was starting to understand why so many people just spent hours sitting watching cricket. I was engrossed enough by the sport that I never needed a book, or work, however, I understand why people bring such items. I’ve never been a huge fan of summer but going to cricket makes it all worth it. I rarely find times when I’m so relaxed.
Of course, money is an issue these days, but I make sure I’m at one or two days of cricket a summer. I can no longer afford to go see England play, but I don’t mind this – county cricket is just as gripping and the smaller crowds mean you have more time to enjoy isolation and relax. It’s a great place to sunbathe should the weather be nice, enjoy a book or do work. If you can spare a day, it takes away the hassle of everyday life and replaces it with a feeling that is hard to match.
It’s the very reason cricket is my favourite sport.