Seasoned visitors to grounds across the country will have a well oiled routine to spending a day at the cricket. There’s likely to be a favourite hat, which has not missed a Test for decades, or a trusty pair of binoculars who spend the winter sitting in the picnic bag awaiting the next day of cricket.
Whether you have lost count of the number of days spent watching international cricket, or if this season is your first time, our six ‘Test Match Hacks’ will provide food for thought. With Pakistan to face England at Lord’s on Thursday, it is time to dig-out the cricket-watching paraphernalia for another year. Here’s all you need to know for a day at the cricket, according to Sofia Westaby.
Bring a cushion.
Other than Lord’s or The Oval hospitality areas, Test match grounds have not yet invested in cushioning. All favour the fold-down plastic chairs, which result in a slight loss of feeling to particular areas of the body. If you are heading to Headingley when England play Pakistan, or Edgbaston, Trent Bridge, Southampton or the Oval when India arrive, pack something soft to sit on. I would recommend a cushion for a classic garden chair, they fit just perfectly. First time visitors to the Lord’s Pavilion, you suffer for tradition. The famous white benches are the only seats in the ground without built in padding (MCC cushions are available).
Don’t forget tea!
This is really two pieces of advice for the price of one. Firstly, pack a picnic. Test match grounds make their money off your boozing and eating. Lord’s, for example, famously has a £20 burger…! So, if going in a group, ask each person to contribute. The real hack is, however, the need to ensure you think about tea. Most have, at one time or other, decided ‘we shall eat lunch leftovers at tea’ and, I am sure, discovered what a mistake this turned out to be! I have seen a group of 30-year old gentlemen assemble an entire cream tea; scones, clotted cream and jam, during the tea break at Lord’s. I can tell you, there is nothing more depressing when everyone around you breaks out cakes, biscuits and scones and you pull out, a now warm, couscous salad. Avoid food envy and pack a cake! Oh! And don’t be tempted to eat it at lunch.
If you’ve been before, don’t forget your radio.
It is very special to plug into Test Match Special or the Sky commentary whilst in the ground. Radios are widely available to purchase at every venue. But, be warned! They come at a price. Normally £10 (£20 at Lord’s), there is nothing more annoying than being forced to add to your ever growing collection, having left previous year’s radios at home. If you, like me, have quite a collection going, bring your extras for those who have forgotten!
Dress for the occasion.
If you are lucky enough to watch cricket on a day of classic English summer weather, this means you must pack for a multitude of different events. Likelihood is you will be both a tad chilly and swelteringly hot at some point throughout the day. Most grounds will bask you in direct sunlight, before plunging you into dark shadows. And with Pakistan facing England in May, the sun’s warmth is not significant enough to warm the early evening shadows. Layers, therefore, are you friends. Whether male or female, a linen or cotton base layer will keep you cool when the sun is shining. Gentlemen, pack a light layer and a jacket or thicker jumper in case you find your seats are in significant shade. Ladies, cardigans or jackets that you like undone and done up are a must. Top-Tip! If seated in the Upper Edrich or Compton stand at Lord’s over the bank holiday weekend, pack and hat and sunscreen. Even on cloudy days, I have failed to take this advice, and returned with a hint of rouge.
Bring a newspaper.
You will be the stereotype, but there is something fun about that. I would recommend arriving at the ground between 1000 and 1030. There will be an atmosphere, without the frustrating queues. You can orientate yourself, visit the member’s side of the ground before they become rammed, and watch England’s final preparations. Essential to this part of the day is a newspaper. Better yet, a broadsheet. There is nothing more English than a person reading the biggest newspaper possible, with international cricket going on in the background. If you happen to be watching on a day when one team is building a large base of runs, at some point – particularly on slow wickets – you will rather catch up on the day’s headlines.
Visiting Lord’s? Take advantage of the alcohol allowance.
Lord’s is special for many reasons. One quirk of the Home of Cricket is that it allows you to BYOB. The only international cricket ground in the world where importation of alcohol is permitted. Each ticket allows its holder to bring in 2 pints under 6% ABV or a 75cl bottle with an ABV between 6% and 18%. Note that, whilst Lord’s have this generous, and much loved, policy on alcohol, fancy dress and musical instruments are not permitted. You win some, you lose some.