PUBLISHED: 21:38 28 March 2016 | UPDATED: 21:38 28 March 2016
Radio Kent broadcaster and producer Andy Garland is planning a trip to Canterbury for his first county cricket match of the season
I’m planning a trip…
More than one actually, although to be fair if I achieve a single visit in 2016 that would be a victory; you see, I singularly failed to attend last year and managed just one outing in the 12 months before that.
It is not unpleasant either, this jaunt, the destination being the dreaming spires of Canterbury. But this siren call is not from the cathedral, nor my former faculty or even the Red Lion at Stodmarsh; April’s beckoning finger summons me to that gladiatorial amphitheatre of the St. Lawrence ground, where once again my adopted county will set out on its herculean task to recreate the glory days of the 1970s.
I’m hoping that the accompaniment to my spring and summer will be that most evocative of sounds – the thwack of willow on leather, closely followed in the aural mix by muted applause, the rustling of a broadsheet newspaper and the murmur of an appreciative crowd responding to a perfectly timed cover drive.
Surely watching cricket has to rate as one of the most civilised experiences in Kent? Sadly from a first XI point of view, it’s a case of delayed gratification as Worcester and Leicester get first dibs this year. Kent’s trophy-winning women’s team aren’t in action either until the first of May with their initial two games away to Somerset and Sussex respectively.
Thankfully, attitudes to the excellent women’s game have improved since General Melchett refused Lt. George permission to save Captain Blackadder, noting that such a mission would be as pointless as trying to teach a woman the value of a good forward defensive stroke.
The women’s County Championship game is played over a single day; the men’s over four. Oh, to be retired and attend every match! I’ve no time for Thierry Henry who stated: “The only thing I won’t watch is darts. And I don’t watch cricket. How can you like a game that requires you to take four days off work to follow a Test?”
I feel as if I owe it to history to put in the required effort to safeguard the viewing of a sport with at least 300 years’ worth of inter-county heritage.
And if I’m lucky I might sneak over to the Neville ground during Tunbridge Wells Week for the last couple of hour’s play.
A previous visit saw an elderly steward knocked out after a lofted six straight over long-off felled him as neatly as a swift left-hook.
But as pleasant as the Neville ground and its bank of rhododendrons is in providing a welcome diversion to the gardener in me during tea, it’s the pull of the east of the county that will draw me back time and time again. I wish it could be more
“Endless cricket, like endless anything else, simply grinds you down,” said former Chairman of England selectors Ted Dexter. He could not be more wrong, constant cricket ensures that failure at the crease one day can be triumphantly salvaged the next; tomorrow’s overcast, cold, cloudy conditions may mean revenge for being sprayed all over the pitch by the batsman who’s seeing the leather ball like a football and the application of ice-cold concentration in the slips means that you can cling on, when others will let it slip through their fingers.
“But cricket’s sooooo boring” is the oft-heard refrain, “nothing ever happens.” But for me that is the very crux of the matter; on the next ball, anything might just happen. w