Yesterday brought with it another double-header of county ground visits, as we begun in Wales in the morning before travelling to Bristol in the afternoon. Having navigated the streets of Cardiff with our proficiency in Welsh (or more accurately, the English printed under the Welsh), we made our way to the magnificent SSE SWALEC. It was clear the ground was still suffering the after-effects of the Ashes, banners of Alastair draped over its front, inviting you in.
At Glamorgan, we received a tour (it’s definitely worth visiting to take it) of the ground that started with a brief history of the ground. It was clear that the ambitions of being a club to represent Wales, and possessing a ground to host international cricket, which were decided in 1888 have become actualised today. Having received our brief, we then made our way to the away changing rooms. We’ve unsurprisingly discovered that every ground’s away dressing room plays second fiddle to the home, and this one is no different as old chairs from reception and benches line the walls.
Next on the tour was the media centre, the rows of chairs vacated from the game the night before, but the odd stray crisp reminding us how frequently the room is used at this time of year. The huge glass box is incredibly well protected, its shatterproof specification only one level below that of a nuclear bomb shelter. We ended our tour, having made our way through the Sky and BBC commentary boxes, to the scorer’s box. It turned our tour guide was also the Glamorgan scorer and announcer, and we were priveliged to leaf through his scorer’s book which included England’s crushing victory over Australia in the first Ashes Test.
He revealed a few of the problems of the trade and unsprisingly Sachithra Senanayake name was mentioned as providing a challenge for the announcer.
After a short break for lunch, the train carried us back into England in time to catch the second innings of Gloucestershire vs Derbyshire, the home side needing 284 to secure victory. At first glance, it appeared we were in for another day of fallen wickets, the first ball we witnessed seeing Chris Dent slink off into the stands less than a metre away from us, Klinger following suit two balls later. Nonetheless, Gloucestershire stabilised as Roderick made a composed 54 off 83 balls.
However, Gloucestershire were always behind the required rate, as the game became frequently interrupted with light rain showers. Eventually, a longer spell of rain shortened the game, Duckworth-Lewis settting Gloucestershire an incredible 68 runs to get in 4 overs. The crowd were baffled, and all confident that Derbyshire had all but acheived victory.
A blessing in disguise came for the home side when Roderick slipped and was run out, as his replacement at the crease Jack Taylor slapped three sixes to deep midwicket. It looked as though Gloucestershire had given themselves a fighting chance needing 30 off 12 until England prospect Mark Footitt returned to bowl the second-to-last over. His miserly 10-run over required Gloucestershire to ammass 20 runs off the final six balls.
Jack Taylor continued his heroics, but the home side were left with the tricky task of scoring a six off the final ball. Chesney Hughes bowled, and induced a sky-high leading edge that was well caught at square leg. Derbyshire celebrated loudly as the crowd fell silent, accepting the inevitable that they hoped would never come.
Controversy erupted as the square leg umpire signalled no ball, for Derbyshire fielding six men on the leg side insyead of the legal five. It became clear the single that had been run last ball whilst the ball was skyward was vital, as Benny Howell only needed a three off the last ball to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The final ball was slapped straight back at the bowler past long-off, the diving fielder just failing to prevent the boundary. At once the crowd flew up, the cheers and excitement as loud as if Gloucestershire had won the title at Lord’s.
It was the greatest end to a game we’ve ever witnessed, and it was wonderful to experience the delight of the family of Gloucestershire fans and players alike. We travel on, hoping for more excitement, but knowing it’s highly unlikely that afternoon at Bristol will be beaten.
A quick reminder: the aim of this trip is to raise money for Shooting Star Chase Hospice, Middlesex CCC’s official charity partner, who do tremendous work in bettering the lives of children and their families for kids with terminal illnesses.
They need £9.5 million a year to maintain their brilliant service, and we would highly appreciate it if you could help them to continue their care, by donating here: