Jack And Ross Go To The Hundred!
Jack Hope talks about him and Ross going to The Oval as press
Yesterday Ross and I attended our first match officially as “the media.” In the eyes of the righteous we will now clearly be marked us dirty scumbag shills for The Hundred. But, we had a lot of fun, the game was good, and I thought I’d write a few words about how the evening went.
First things first, and this probably should have been more obvious, but it was a pretty different experience versus being a fan. Illustrative of that was an incident in the first over of the game, when Zak Crawley pulled a boundary in front of square. Ross and I both instinctively shouted “SHOT!” and started clapping. Everybody else was silent. We felt very silly.
In fact, there was a real “first day at the office” vibe to the whole thing from our point of view. Which, admittedly, makes total sense when you remember that we were effectively at work. A couple of moments stood out on this front.
Firstly, on our way in, one of the guys on the door told us that we were “expected on air in 8 minutes,” which was slightly disconcerting and definitely not true. I hope they found who they were really looking for.
Secondly, after opening several wrong doors, we did eventually find the press box and then literally had to declare “hi guys, this is our first time here, what is it that we are supposed to do?” Thankfully someone was on hand to give us a quick lo-down at this point.
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Watching the match live also gives you insight into a lot of things you just don’t pick up on the TV. And don’t necessarily pick up on as an in person spectator, because you’re concentrating on other things, like beer.
A few of these things are basic, like tactical field changes from ball to ball, or Sunil Narine actually being even slower than he looks on the TV. Others are a bit more nuanced. I’d not seen Glenn Maxwell bat in person before, for example, and his ability to hit the ball wherever he damn well pleases is so impressive.
Watching him I was actually struck by the possibility that he may be too good for his own good, on this front. Yesterday he was out in preposterous fashion, slicing a spinner to deep backward point, from a ball on off stump, to deep backward point. Checking the highlights today it looked like a stupid shot straight to the man, but he was actually pretty clearly trying to toy with Oval, by hitting to deep extra-cover which had just been vacated. It should also be acknowledged that it was a much better piece of bowling and captaincy than it would have looked on the TV.
Atmosphere wise, The Oval was electric. I didn’t run a survey, so I can’t tell you whether there were more kids, or new fans, or whatever at the ground than normal, but I can tell you it was loud, and I can tell you that there was a pretty significant home bias. Especially at the end, when it looked like they were going to pull off the miracle.
Walking about pre and post game, and based on the fans sitting around the press area, I’d speculate that it was a significantly younger crowd than for a Test match. With a mix of Hooray Henrys on the after work Thursday circuit and a lot of families too.
My top crowd watching moment was when a woman sat a few rows in front leapt from her seat to celebrate a crowd catch, spilt most of a glass of wine down herself in the process, and then blamed her son next to her. The son, for his part, wasn’t fooled into thinking it was a wicket, and had remained perfectly still. That didn’t stop Dad giving him an earful about behaving himself.
As a final note, and we’ll talk more about this on the podcast, it was a really incredible cricket match. Purely judging it based on the 200 balls of entertainment, so slightly in a vacuum, you couldn’t really ask for much more. A boat load of runs, a couple of vital bowling spells, a gang of superstars and a last ball finish. Decent.